SpectraCare provides stress management advice during April’s Stress Awareness month

SpectraCare Health Systems is one of the resources that assists those who seek help in the Wiregrass. The staff encourages people to recognize their stress trig
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 1:46 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - No matter your age or social class, everyone is going to have some type of stress, according to Candy Gaff.

“A lot of times people know their own bodies and they can tell when they are just getting wore out when they are not able to concentrate, not able to focus, when things become overwhelming to them, they can recognize those as signs,” Gaff, the director of community services at SpectraCare Health Systems, said.

Gaff said a little stress every now and then can be healthy, but often it can develop into a challenge.

“It’s very important to recognize those signs and symptoms because nobody usually knows themselves better than themselves,” Gaff said.

The National Institutes of Health states it is critical to take the time and recognize what stress and anxiety look like, build strength and know where to get help early on.

SpectraCare Health Systems is one of the resources that assists those who seek help in the Wiregrass. The staff encourages people to recognize their stress triggers whether it is finances, work, relationships, or even holidays.

“The best thing for someone to do when they are feeling stressed is to find the target of that, ‘What is the reason behind that? Why are they feeling this stress?’ and to deal with those things and that’s what’s going to help the person get through it,” Gaff said.

Along with the experts, SpectraCare offers visual tools to help find that target by offering educational brochures that break down ways to not handle stress, such as avoiding eating too much or too little or isolating yourself from family and friends. These brochures also give tips on how to identify those stress triggers and provides techniques to turn to, like breathing exercises, when someone may need a moment to slow down or suggestions of adding activities, such as journaling, to a routine.

Gaff said if you aren’t sure where to start, begin by taking care of yourself physically because mental and physical health are more connected than a person may realize.

“If we don’t recognize those signs and symptoms and realize when we need a break, our bodies are going to do that for us and it’s going to start shutting down and telling us, ‘Okay, if you don’t take a break, I’m going to make you take a break,’” Gaff said.

Often times Gaff sees cases where people think they can use different types of drugs and alcohol to relieve their stress, but she said this is not the answer.

“It’s very important that we make sure we don’t turn to drugs and alcohol to try and mask those feelings of stress we’re having because the feelings are still going to be there after that,” Gaff said.

She shares some healthy habits you can turn to that will enhance your overall health and lower your feelings of stress.

“We have to make sure that we get plenty of sleep, that we eat right and try to get exercise, be outside and enjoy fresh air when you can,” Gaff said.

She adds that adhering to time management also helps. Another tip from Gaff: take time for yourself.

“A lot of times in our busy schedules we don’t take the time to set aside, time to just relax, to just do things we enjoy like our hobbies, whether it be reading, exercising, or just taking a walk outside or even if it’s something as simple as watching your favorite television show and getting a good laugh,” Gaff said.

By taking a step as simple as talking to someone you trust can, at times, help a person overcome their feelings of stress and anxiety, according to Gaff. She encourages someone to do this before it becomes too much to handle.

“It’s very important for people to be okay with talking to someone,” Gaff said. “Whether it is just talking to your best friend, a confidant, your pastor, whoever you can speak to and it can even be if you feel that you need to speak with someone professionally don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel like that it’s not okay for you to reach out because all of us at different times go through stress.”

SpectraCare has a 24/7 Crisis Line people can call at 1(800)951-help (4357). Gaff said when you call this number someone will set you up with an appointment with a therapist and provide the assistance you need.

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