Managing Stress and Depression

You cannot remove all of the stress from your life, but you can decide how you will respond to it. The goal is to recognize stressors and learn how to deal with them. The more coping resources you have, the better you’re able to manage stress.

Relaxation

* Stop! Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel air slowly leave your body. Do it again! You just experienced one form of stress reduction. Deep breathing can often give you immediate relief from stress.
* Quiet Time – Find a place where you can get away from everyone, even for just 5 minutes at a time.
* Relaxation Media – Listen to cassettes or CDs with relaxing music or content. Even if you can do this while falling asleep at night, you will find more peace.
* Stretching – Many people don’t realize how much stress we hold in our bodies. Tense muscles can cause headaches, stiff neck, sore shoulders and a knotted back. Stretching can help relieve stiffness and soreness.
* Avoid chemicals such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and refined sugar. These can make stress worse.

Depression
One of the best ways of dealing with depression is communicating your feelings. There is a link between expressed and unexpressed emotions and adverse health outcomes.

* Express your frustration or disappointment regularly
* Be clear about your feelings
* Stay in control of your feelings
* Tell others your needs and emotions

Stress Kit for Life
(presented by Allison Boyer)

* Rubber Band – To stretch our ideas and our mind to new limits
* Tissue – To see the tears and needs of others
* Candy Kisses and Hugs – Everyone need kisses, hugs and encouragement
* Life savers – To think of your fellow Mended Little Hearts as OUR life savers
* Penny – The value of our thoughts-big and same-share them!
* Eraser – We all make mistakes, we are all human and mistakes can be overcome
* Toothpick – To pick out the good qualities in others and ourselves, be tolerant and accepting of others differences
* Paperclip – “Keeps it all together”. Find balance in our personal, profession, and spiritual life
* Playdoh – To play and have fun…keep in touch with our creative spirit
* Marbles – In case you feel you have lost all of your own

Stress Reduction and the Relaxation Response
Sandi Hughes, RN of the Cardiac Wellness Center at St. Mary’s Hospital led a fabulous discussion on stress reduction. Sandi is a Cardiac (Adult) Critical Care Nurse that practices the “Relaxation Response” (like meditation) by Dr H Benson, who went to Harvard.

To begin, we need to understand what stress does to the body. The definition of stress is “the perception of not being under control.” When we are stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. Stress causes increased blood pressure, decreased immune system, increased blood sugar, and increased heart rate.

Dr Benson studied Meditation Monks by measuring heart rate, etc. while they were in their deepest relaxed state. Their brain waves changed…they were at peace. Dr Benson came up with a way to do this “at will,” called the “relaxation response.”

To begin the relaxation response, you must start with a 5 minute period of time…. and over time, work your way up to 20 minutes to get the best results. It is hard to learn to relax at first….your mind will wonder (Ex. Did I leave the stove on?). This needs to be done on regular basis to be able to master it. Sandi had us relax…… go to a peaceful place and focus on relaxing our bodies and breathing (There are great books and tapes at Barnes and Noble to help with guided imagery by Beth Napersick). Children should learn this; it can actually help them learn better.

Some other things to think about are Cognitive Restructuring-changing the way you think; and, Automatic thinking (normal thinking) always tends to lean towards the negative (ex. I have too much to do). We should begin the day by saying 5 positive things about the day you are about to have. This will help your brain to rethink in a more positive manner.