Busy or Stressed? Protect your health

Terry RogersHeadlines, Health, Milford Headline Story

Dr. Angela Debo of Bayhealth offers tips to deal with summer stress

Although the summer months are a time for many to slow down, for others it can seem like an endless cycle of things to do. Preparing for vacations, shuttling kids who are not on school from one activity to another, summer barbecues or family gatherings can all lead to stress. Managing stress levels is critical to health, according to Angela Debo, DO, a Bayhealth family medicine practitioner.

“Prolonged stress can contribute to a myriad of health problems including high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes, skin problems, asthma depression and anxiety,” Dr. Debo said. “That is why it is so important for us to do what we can to manage stress levels.”

When we are stressed or busy, we tend not to get enough sleep, Dr. Debo explained, but good sleep is critical for mental health. When your to-do list is long, it is difficult to check things off if you are exhausted. One suggestion is to avoid screentime just before bed. If you find you are having difficulty sleeping on a regular basis, talk to your doctor to see if there may be something else causing the insomnia.

“When we are busy, the first thing we usually give up is our workout or daily walk,” Dr. Debo said. “We feel like that is something we can skip to fit in the other things we need to get done. However, this is counterproductive as working out increases energy levels which can help you accomplish more. Even a two or three minute walk can help reduce stress rather than increase it.”

Lists are another way to deal with a busy or stressful time. Writing things down that you need to do will prevent you from forgetting critical things and, checking things off the list can give you a feeling of accomplishment which may also reduce stress. When you have to go back and do something you forgot, that adds to your anxiety and stress levels. Today, there are many apps available that will allow you to create lists on your phone or tablet to keep you organized as well.

“Ask for help, something that can be difficult especially if you are used to doing things on your own,” Dr. Debo said. “If you are very busy and stressed about what needs to be done, sometimes you just need the task accomplished even if it is not perfect. Delegate small tasks or review your budget to see if you can hire a teenaged neighbor to mow the lawn or have a cleaning service come in, even if it is just once.”

One of the best stress relievers is actually doing things you enjoy, so it is important not to leave out the “fun” stuff. The dust bunnies can wait a day and it is okay not to unload the dishwasher as soon as it stops running.

“Take time to enjoy life and the important people in it,” Dr. Debo said. “When you are with them, be completely present. No worrying about what you need to get done when you get home. Also, if you have creative outlets and hobbies, make sure you are taking time for them as well.”

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