By UnityPoint Health on Wednesday, April 10, 2019

8 expert tips to help you reduce stress

This blog was written by Kevin Vermeer, President and CEO of Unity Point Health:

Stress can stop us in our tracks if it goes unmanaged. From childhood to pressures we face in adulthood, it’s important to have healthy coping mechanisms in our back pocket, so we’re better able to control our response in stressful situations.


Gretchen Diem, Ph.D., and Shelly Komondoros, Ph.D., health psychologists at UnityPoint Health, have offered some tips on how to recognize common signs of stress and what you can do manage it for a happy and healthier life.

“Stress is the body’s automatic physical reaction to events that require behavioral adjustments,” Dr. Komondoros says. “It’s important to remember if your body’s stress response continues for too long it can cause health problems, due to its effects on the cardiovascular system, immune system and nervous system.”

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Common signs of stress include:

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
  • Upset stomach, loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”
  • Dry mouth or anxiety
  • Chest pains, rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty falling, staying asleep and fatigue
  • Short temper, irritability

“Developing self-awareness and recognizing when your body needs extra care is essential. Most likely, you intuitively know how you react to stressful situations, so when things aren’t going your way, or you feel like you are losing control or are overwhelmed, pay attention and tune in to your body,” Dr. Komondoros says.

How to relieve stress

Recognizing you’re stressed is one thing, but stress management is another. Dr. Diem lists these 8 tips to reduce stress:

  1. Put yourself first. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do right now to take better care of myself, physically and emotionally?”
  2. Keep things in perspective. Try to respond to any mishaps with compassion and grace. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to be at peace with your circumstances.
  3. Prioritize. Selectively choose the activities that are most satisfying for you and your family.
  4. Stick to your budget. If you’re worried about your wallet, be realistic about what you can afford. Create a budget and stick to it.
  5. Use technology to help you relax and be mindful. Several free stress relief apps can help you practice mindfulness, including Headspace, Smiling Mind, Calm and others.
  6. Breathe! It sounds so simple, but we often hold our breath when we are feeling frazzled. Even taking a few slow, deep, belly breaths as a relaxation technique can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of seconds.
  7. Express gratitude. It’s easy to focus on daily frustrations and annoyances, especially when feeling stressed. Take notes of the good in your life and take time to reflect on these blessings.
  8. Focus on what really matters. Take a few moments each day to reflect on social connections, special memories and other aspects of our lives for which you are grateful.

You can read the full article here.

kevinKevin Vermeer assumed the role President and CEO of UnityPoint Health (formerly Iowa Health System) in January 2016. He's served the organization in a variety of leadership roles since 2000. Vermeer has over two decades of experience managing financial operations for leading health care organizations. Vermeer participates in community organizations, such as the Iowa Business Council and Greater Des Moines Committee. Vermeer also serves on the Healthiest State Initiative Board.