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Stress is defined as the emotional and physical response that we experience when we perceive an imbalance on the demands placed on us and our time.

Catholic Health mental health experts note that some stress is good and can increase our ability to be alert, switched on and resourceful when facing challenges we enjoy. However, stress becomes unhelpful and has a negative effect on our health when it leaves us feeling fatigued, tense, anxious, burnt out or overwhelmed.

“The psychological and mental harm caused by stress can have an adverse impact on your quality of life, have a negative effect on those around you and diminish your ability to complete tasks in your personal life,” said Catholic Health’s Director of Behavioral Health Central Intake Services Lawrence M. Ferber, Ph.D. 

Dr. Ferber added that the tipping point between helpful and unhelpful stress differs from person to person and depends on what is happening in their lives at that time.

While some may downplay the impact of stress, it can lead to serious physical illnesses including heart disease, hypertension, ulcers, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.

Stress may also impact one’s mental acuities, resulting in a lack of attention to details, diminished self-esteem, unorganized thoughts, difficulty in making decisions and a loss of perspective.

To help reduce stress, Dr. Ferber suggests taking steps to prepare for meetings or trips by better scheduling your time and setting realistic goals. For example, build in time for traffic or other unforeseen delays. Also, he said maintaining strong connections with others that include family, friends, co-workers, clergy and spiritual leaders can have a positive effect on your mental well-being and your ability to cope with stress.

Dr. Ferber cautioned against using alcohol, overeating, shopping, smoking or gambling as solutions to stress as each does not provide long-term relief needed and can lead to additional health problems in the future.

More information on Catholic Health’s mental health services may be obtained by calling 1-855-247-4500. You can also download the CHS Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Guide.

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