Stress is a common factor we must face in our everyday lives. At least two types of stress exist. Good stress, otherwise known as "eustress," helps us perform better. Bad stress, often referred to as "distress," causes us to become sick or upset. Often, the reaction to stress is automatic or immediate. This is called "the fight or fight response" because it provides us with strength and energy to either fight the situation or run from danger. Our reaction to stress results in increased adrenaline, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, tense muscles, increased mental alertness, increased blood flow to the brain, heart, and muscles. In addition, we see a rise in platelets and blood clotting factors in order to prevent hemorrhage in case of injury. Fats, cholesterol, and blood sugar also increase, giving us extra energy.
Common symptoms of stress generally fall into the following four categories: physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral. While under stress, we may physically experience fatigue, insomnia, headaches, nausea, trembling, frequent colds, sweating, chest pain, and muscle stiffness. Most people tend to hold tension in neck, shoulders, and lower back.
Some psychological effects resulting from stress include decreased memory and concentration, indecisiveness, mind racing or going blank, confusion, and loss of sense of humor. Some symptoms may affect us emotionally such as feeling anxious, nervous, depressed, angry, frustrated, worried, irritable, or inpatient.
Behavioral changes to look for include pacing, fidgeting, nail biting, foot tapping, increased eating, smoking, drinking, crying, yelling, swearing, blaming others, and even throwing or hitting things. How can we cope with stress when we are constantly faced with it?
First, we must recognize what is causing us to be stressed. We easily place the blame on external factors such as work, family, or other relationships when often times the problem lies right in front of us. Most stress stems from within ourselves. This means we can formulate a plan to make some positive changes in our lives. Once we have identified these stressors or "triggers," then we can better deal with the stressful situations that we encounter. Remember, everyone experiences stress, but if we let it go too far, it is possible that it could lead to more serious problems resulting in anxiety, depression, or other major medical illnesses.
Stress does not have to rule our lives. Stress not only effects the individual who experiences it, but also their entire family and their friends. The key to successful, healthy living is to identify our stressors, identify positive coping skills to help us deal with stress, and learn to utilize and practice these skills in order for us to remain healthy, physically and mentally. Manage stress before it manages you! If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress and feel like you are spiraling out of control, you can seek help right here in the community. If not treated, stress may lead to more serious problems or illnesses requiring treatment.
Contact Daviess Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services for further assistance at (812) 254-8634.
How Can I Exercise When I am Sooo Tired?
Exercise? Who wants to exercise at this age? Do you often feel like you need to be active, but just cannot find the strength or energy to do so? Well, like many Americans, you are not alone. Maybe you think, “I’m too old to start now,” or, “I can’t do that anymore.” Let’s figure out why you are too tired and find some motivators to get you moving.
First, let’s identify why you may be feeling too tired to exercise. Maybe you are experiencing changes in sleep patterns or eating behaviors. If so, then you may need to take a look at some of your daily habits that could be causing decreased energy. You may also need to consult your doctor for a detailed evaluation if the problems persist.
The following may help you to get the right amount of sleep and rest:
Nutrition: The foods you eat effect the way you feel. Be sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal. You may need to refer to your health care provider, dietitian, or other medical professional to put you on the right track. If you notice that you are practicing unhealthy eating habits, this could be a contributing factor to why you do not have much energy.
Limit or eliminate caffeine: If you find yourself consuming excessive amounts of caffeine, this may be what is slowing you down. Caffeine is only a temporary, quick fix. After it wears off, it may leave you feeling more exhausted than before consuming it.
Drink lots of water: Water helps in the digestion process. Six to eight glasses of water a day is ideal, not including with meals, especially during exercise. Our bodies are made up mostly of water and require it second only to oxygen.
Exercise: Exercise alone can help us have more energy, be more alert, and sleep better each evening. You should exercise three to four days each week for 20–30 minutes per session. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced meal, getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine, and participating in regular exercise are methods that when combined together will allow you to have more energy and increase your self-esteem.
Find out what motivates you to become more active. Generate some ideas of activities you enjoy doing. Make it fun! Exercise with a friend.
Walk outside instead of just using the treadmill. Walk to the park, feed the ducks, walk a dog, push a baby in a stroller, walk around the mall, take the kids or grandkids to the park, use the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator, park farther away from the store and walk a longer distance. Don’t wait until tomorrow or the next day or even next week. Do it today and start feeling better about yourself now. You will breach the physical as well as the psychological effects!!
If you continue to have low energy, you may be experiencing some more serious problems requiring medical attention. Depression, anxiety, stress or some other medical condition could be the cause of your feeling fatigued. Depression often times leaves us with low energy and motivation. It can become difficult even to complete simple daily tasks such as personal hygiene, running errands, and preparing meals as well as doing the things we enjoy. In addition, you may experience a change in appetite and sleep patterns as a result of depression. Learn the signs to look for and know that depression can be treated effectively.
It is important to identify what is making you so tired and then make the positive changes to help you feel better. You may need to seek professional help to assist you to improve your overall health and well-being.
For further information, please contact Daviess Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services at (812) 254-8634.
Is it Important to Like Myself?
What we think about ourselves can effect our abilities, relationships, and our attitudes about life. The value we place on ourselves is called self-esteem. Young , middle-aged, or old, many of us are now struggling with self-esteem issues. All of us go through times in our lives when we feel down about ourselves.
With high self-esteem we accept ourselves exactly as we are. We appreciate our value as a human being. We accept responsibility for our lives, and have a feeling of control over what happens to us. We have respect for people around us, and believe that they are entitled to the same rights we wish for ourselves. With high self-esteem we have more energy, and we take more healthy risks to learn and grow. We are more enthusiastic and confident, and we are able to stay more positive.
When we suffer from low self-esteem we may feel worthless, flawed, and incompetent. We have problems finding anything we really like about ourselves. We may be afraid of new situations, and avoid activities where we have to be around people we don’t know. Low self-esteem keeps us from setting and achieving goals, forming meaningful relationships, trying for promotions, and taking other kinds of healthy risks. Our mood may be sad and depressed, or we may be irritable and angry to cover our feelings of worthlessness.
The journey to higher self-esteem is worth the struggle. Each step gives us forward momentum. A critical point to bear in mind is, “I AM WORTH IT.” If we can just get started and keep going, we will immediately feel better about ourselves. Our chances for success will improve as our self-esteem improves.
Here are some simple steps to help get started on the journey to feeling better about ourselves:
We need to respect our feelings and share them with others.
We need to keep a sense of humor, find things to laugh about.
Accept compliments from others with a simple thank you.
Take time to do something for ourselves that we enjoy.
Try a new experience and learn something new.
Meet new people and make friends.
Spend time doing relaxing activities.
Be honest with ourselves and others.
It will take some time and effort, but the journey is worth it. It is not a journey that we have to take alone. We need to seek out support from others if we are having difficulty taking the first steps to feeling better about ourselves. Support can come from family, friends, ministers, or mental health professionals. Remember: feeling good about ourselves can improve all aspects of our life. It is never too late to get started on the journey.
For more information, call Daviess Community Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services at (812) 254-8634.
Isn't Everybody Anxious?
Anxiety is a word familiar to most of us, but is often dismissed by many of us because it seems so ordinary. Anxiety clearly dates back to our ancient ancestors, and was utilized many years ago as one of the only mechanisms by which one determined if great harm was nearing. Thus, the "flight vs. fight" phenomenon developed in order to best predict safety and level of comfort — “should I stay or should I take flight?” We can be grateful to our ancestors in that this basic sociological concept has prepared us well for many day-to-day challenges we may face.
Anxiety is as much a part of our life as is waking and sleeping. It enters into each of our lives, but it affects each of us in very unique ways. That is, for some of us, anxiety never interferes with our day-to-day living. And for others, it is crippling and sometimes causes one to be a prisoner of their own home. Yet, anxiety is very poorly understood and few persons with anxiety disorders actually seek treatment, in spite of the rising number of persons affected by it. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental health, some 19 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, and it is thought to be the most common form of emotional illness from which people suffer.
“Anxiety disorders” refer to a group of illnesses: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Of these disorders, each present with their own characteristics and the treatment for each of them varies.
Many persons suffering from an anxiety disorder may first notice unusual physical symptoms such as:
Because there tends to be many physical symptoms present, it is always prudent to first have a complete physical work-up from your primary care physician in order to rule out any underlying health concerns that you may be experiencing. Provided that your physical work-up does not demonstrate any underlying medical illness, you may need to make an appointment with a mental health provider to better determine if your symptoms are related to an anxiety disorder.
fear of losing control|
compulsive traits or rituals|
irrational thoughts and beliefs|
hot or cold flashes|
choking or smothering|
shortness of breath|
preoccupation with death|
Treatments for anxiety disorders fall into two broad categories: medication and therapy. Often, the most effective treatment involves both aspects, so that one can not only receive the chemical effect from the medication, but also begin to learn the degree to which they can take charge of their illness and recovery.
If you believe you are suffering from an anxiety disorder and wish to seek treatment for it, please call DCH Behavioral Health Services at (812) 254-8634 for a free, confidential assessment. Please don’t suffer needlessly from an illness that responds so well to treatment.
Ordinary People Helping Ordinary People
Did you know that as an ordinary person you can actually help someone who is suffering from a crisis? The prescription is really very bearable.
Let the person know you care. Just knowing that someone cares about us and is aware of our hurt feelings, worries, or difficult decisions can mean a great deal. Burdens shared are often lighter to carry. As someone once said, “A joy shared is doubled. A sorrow shared is halved.”
Be a good listener. Good listening encourages people to talk, and in turn to realize the anger, the pain, the trouble, the real elements of their problem.
Don’t give the troubled person false assurance. People in trouble desperately want to be reassured, and we may want to give that assurance. But the “There, there, everything will be all right” approach may not help. It puts the person in the role of a child and makes them weaker rather than stronger. Rather, make the statement of faith that they will be strong enough to work it out even if everything is not all right.
Don’t encourage blaming others. Don’t encourage the person in trouble to speculate on the villains with the idea that he or she will feel better if the blame can be placed on someone else. Blaming is a way of avoiding the truth and not looking at the problem at hand. Blaming may make it harder and less likely that he or she will come out of the crisis strengthened.
Know your limitations. If the person you are trying to help is very troubled for more than two or three weeks, the best help you can give is to persuade him or her to consult a professional counselor. Be aware that you can act as a support, but the person may actually need professional help, especially if there is any suspicion of suicidal intent, thought, or plan.
In conclusion, a wise, warm, kind heart can do much to ease the emotional distress that comes from the worries, disappointments, and conflicts of life. If enough of us can be aware of the ways in which we can help each other in times of trouble, more and more people will be helped to work through the difficulties that confront us all. As Harvard psychologist Gerald Caplain says, “It is remarkable to see the power that ordinary people have to adapt to reality, however unpleasant. They have a great deal more strength than we often give them credit for. Unassisted, in a time of crisis, this strength may fail them. But if we recognize it and build it up, we can help each other through times of trouble”.
For more information, contact Daviess Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services at (812) 254-8634.
The Role of the Paraprofessional in Mental Health Care
Behavioral healthcare provides psychological and psychiatric services to patients who may or may not have medical problems. The behavioral healthcare workplace is a unique environment. For example, a front desk receptionist is faced with situations unlike those of other workplace environments. A distraught client may be crying in the waiting room and need attention, which is unusual for most clerical staff, yet a commonplace for the person who works in a mental health setting.
One unique feature of a behavioral health paraprofessional is the close monitoring of the patient's legal status. Examples of this feature are: assuring that patients and guardians are informed of their rights; whenever a patient's rights are denied, justification must be documented. Further, special consents must be signed by the patient or guardian, and particular attention is needed for patient confidentiality due to the restrictive nature of the information. Legal requirements must be carefully reviewed when both planning and managing patient information.
Paraprofessionals in the psychiatric setting are knowledgeable in the areas of techniques required for working with patients, their families, and staff. They are trained to assist psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and other mental health professionals. Education and working knowledge of the more common mental illnesses, their symptoms, and appropriate terminology are assets in the paraprofessional's work day. They must possess the skilled ability to take prompt and effective action in emergency situations, the awareness of the psychological and social aspects of the people they serve, as well as insight into the highly sensitive needs of the communities in which they work.
Educational programs for paraprofessionals in the behavioral health field are available at many vocational, technical, and community colleges. These programs are Health Information Management, Medical Assistant, and Medical Secretarial, just to name a few.
For more information, contact Daviess Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services at (812) 254-8634.
Becky Wininger RN, Outreach Coordinator