Stress Management

April 13th, 2010 by Noelle

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.

The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations – everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester’s worth of your toughest subject.

Signs of Stress Overload

  • People who are experiencing stress overload may notice some of the following signs:
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • a feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried
  • irritability and moodiness
  • physical symptoms, such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
  • allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
  • problems sleeping
  • drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or doing drugs
  • sadness or depression

Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalize it and develop eating disorders or substance abuse problems. And some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.

Keep Stress Under Control

What can you do to deal with stress overload or, better yet, to avoid it in the first place? The most helpful method of dealing with stress is learning how to manage the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they’re used regularly, not just when the pressure’s on. Knowing how to “de-stress” and doing it when things are relatively calm can help you get through challenging circumstances that may arise. Here are some things that can help keep stress under control.

  • Take a stand against overscheduling. If you’re feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, opting for just the ones that are most important to you.
  • Be realistic. Don’t try to be perfect – no one is. And expecting others to be perfect can add to your stress level, too (not to mention put a lot of pressure on them!). If you need help on something, like schoolwork, ask for it.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors.
  • Learn to relax. The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It’s your body’s opposite of stress, and it creates a sense of well-being and calm. The chemical benefits of the relaxation response can be activated simply by relaxing. You can help trigger the relaxation response by learning simple breathing exercises and then using them when you’re caught up in stressful situations.stress
  • Treat your body well. Experts agree that getting regular exercise helps people manage stress. (Excessive or compulsive exercise can contribute to stress, though, so as in all things, use moderation.) And eat well to help your body get the right fuel to function at its best. It’s easy when you’re stressed out to eat on the run or eat junk food or fast food. But under stressful conditions, the body needs its vitamins and minerals more than ever. Some people may turn to substance abuse as a way to ease tension. Although alcohol or drugs may seem to lift the stress temporarily, relying on them to cope with stress actually promotes more stress because it wears down the body’s ability to bounce back.
  • Watch what you’re thinking. Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you’re out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.
  • Solve the little problems. Learning to solve everyday problems can give you a sense of control. But avoiding them can leave you feeling like you have little control and that just adds to stress. Develop skills to calmly look at a problem, figure out options, and take some action toward a solution. Feeling capable of solving little problems builds the inner confidence to move on to life’s bigger ones – and it and can serve you well in times of stress.

Help & Where to Find It!

The Wellness Center can offer you the following to help relieve your stress:

Time Management Skills

Money Management Skills

Relaxation

Exercise Programs

Healthy Eating Tips

A person to listen

Resources
University of Alberta Health Centre

Time Management

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

Are you stressed out? Feel like you can’t get everything done that you need to in one day? Overwhelmed? Not Sleeping?

The Wellness Center can help you sort out your day and create a plan that works for you! But, in the mean time, you can practice the SPARKLE Method.

Sleep Well

Your bed is for sleeping, reading and intimacy.

When your head hits the pillow, it’s time to sleep, not think

Plan Every Day

Create a to-do list every morning

Anticipate Less

Recognize the false assumptions you make that lead to anxiety. Will things really turn out to be as bad as you think? Probably not.

Relax

Breath deeply when you feel stressed. Get up and change your environment, if only for a short time.

Keep your Anger under Control

Be empathetic and forgiving to others when they make mistakes. Like you, they’re trying to do their best.

Laugh

Use positive affirmations

Affirmations should use the 4 P’s; personal, positive, passionate and present. For instance, “I am a confident and successful person who can accomplish anything!”

Laugh at the curves life throws at you rather than fretting over them.

Eat Well & Exercise

Avoid eating packaged snacks – anything that comes in a wrapper or plastic bag. Try natural fruit instead.

Add more colored vegetables to your meals.

Try these tips too:

  • Try to do your planning at the same time every day
  • Use only one planner to keep track of appointments & activities
  • Write out a “To Do” list every day
  • Separate your “To Do” list into categories: A-top priority, B-medium priority, C-low priority
  • Start with the items in the A list
  • Check off items as you complete them
  • Block off time in your planner for major activities
  • Don’t jam your activities into all one day
  • Plan time for fun and your family

Syphilis

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that progresses in stages. The disease is curable and its progression is preventable, but if untreated, it can cause heart disease, neurological problems and blindness. Syphilis causes genital ulcers, which increase the likelihood of sexual HIV transmission.

Symptoms

A myriad of symptoms can occur during various stages of this disease. Early symptoms can range from:

  • a single chancre sore to a rash on the body that does not itch.
  • other symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, weight loss, hair loss, muscle aches and fatigue.

Prevention

Syphilis is usually passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Transmission of the organism occurs during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Wearing condoms and avoiding having multiple sexual partners can help prevent the spread of syphilis. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

Treatment

A single dose of penicillin can cure someone who has had the disease less than a year. Larger doses are needed to cure someone who has had syphilis for longer than a year. For people who are allergic to penicillin, other antibiotics are available to treat syphilis.

Herpes

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

More than 80 known viruses exist within the herpes family. Of these, eight are known to cause disease in humans, the most common being herpes simplex virus 1 and 2. HSV-1 and HSV-2 look. Usually, HSV-1 occurs above the waist and HSV-2 below the waist. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) commonly causes cold sores or fever blisters, which are highly infectious open sores that crust over before healing. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), on the other hand, is a contagious viral infection primarily causing genital herpes in men and women. Once contracted, herpes is a lifelong disease.

Symptoms

  • recurrent painful ulcers are a common symptom of herpes
  • most people with herpes have no symptoms and are unaware of their infection
  • the telltale signs and symptoms of genital herpes include recurrent clusters of blisters, bumps and rashes in the genital areas
  • blister “flares” are unpredictable and have been attributed to everything from stress to certain types of food to exposure to sunlight

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for genital herpes – once you have it, you have it for life. Some prescription drugs and various therapeutic methods have been proven effective in reducing the frequency, severity and duration of outbreaks.

Prevention

If someone has signs of genital herpes, avoid skin-to-skin contact until all of the sores have healed. If someone has cold sores around the mouth (oral herpes), avoid oral sex until the sores have healed. Avoid sharing a drinking cup, cigarette, or lipstick while you have a cold sore. There is some evidence that the virus is still present in saliva and body fluids even when sores have healed, so in general, it is safest to use a condom or dental dam if you or your partner is infected – even if they aren’t in “flare.” Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

Gonnorrhea

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial disease. The bacteria that cause this disease can affect the genital tract, mouth and rectum.

Prevalence

An estimated 650,000 cases of gonorrhea occur each year in the United States.

Symptoms

The early symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild. Symptoms usually appear within two to 10 days after sexual contact with an infected partner. A small number of people may be infected for several months without showing symptoms.

When women have symptoms, the first ones include:

  • bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
  • a painful or burning sensation when urinating and/or vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody.
  • more advanced symptoms, which indicate development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), include cramps, pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting or fever.

Men have symptoms more often than women. Symptoms include:

  • pus from the penis and pain, or
  • a burning sensation during urination that may be severe.
  • symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, anal itching, and occasional painful bowel movements with fresh blood on the feces.

Treatment

Health care providers usually prescribe a single dose of one of several antibiotics. However if the infection is complicated, more than one antibiotic and hospitalization may be necessary (put in chlamydia as well). If you have gonorrhea, all of your sexual partners should get tested and then treated if infected, whether or not they have symptoms of infection.

Prevention

Gonorrhea is spread during sexual intercourse – vaginal, oral, and anal. By using male latex condoms correctly and consistently during vaginal, anal or rectal sexual activity, you can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

Chlamydia

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

What is it?

The most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States, chlamydia, also classifies as one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted infections among women today. Genital chlamydia is the leading cause of preventable infertility and ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants in tissue outside of the uterus and the placenta and fetus begin to develop there. Because many chlamydia infections are asymptomatic and probably chronic, widespread screening with appropriate treatment is necessary to control this infection.

Prevalence:

An estimated three million people contract chlamydia each year.

Symptoms

Chlamydia can be considered a “silent” epidemic of sorts because three quarters of women and half of men with the disease have no symptoms. Possible symptoms include:

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina and a burning sensation when urinating.
  • Additional symptoms for women include lower abdominal pain or pain during intercourse and bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • More advanced symptoms, which indicate development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), include cramps, pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting or fever.
  • Men may experience burning and itching around the opening of the penis and/or pain and swelling in the testicles.

Treatment

The most commonly used treatments are a single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline. Common side effects of these treatments include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If you have chlamydia, all of your sexual partners should get tested and then treated if infected, whether or not they have symptoms of infection.

Prevention

You can get and spread chlamydia through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. Preventing chlamydia means approaching sexual relationships responsibly: limit the number of sexual partners, use condoms, and if you think you’re infected, avoid any sexual contact and visit a local STI clinic, hospital or health care provider to seek treatment. Be sure your partner is treated as well to avoid becoming reinforced. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

Trichomoniasis & Bacterial Vaginosis

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

Trichomoniasis, an infection that affects both men and women, is caused by a microscopic parasite. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is not a “classic” STI, is caused by an imbalance in the bacteria normally found in the vagina, and only affects women. This infection is most commonly found in women.

Symptoms

  • Men usually, do not experience any symptoms, but those who do experience an irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.
  • Women, trichomoniasis causes a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. The infection may also cause discomfort during intercourse and urination. Irritation and itching of the female genital area and, in rare cases, lower abdominal pain can also occur.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Women with BV often have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse or when washing the vulva with soap. The discharge is usually white or gray and can be thin. Women with BV may also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. Some women with BV report no signs or symptoms at all.

Treatment

Trichomoniasis

Can be cured with an antibiotic given by mouth in a single dose. Partners should be treated at the same time to eliminate the parasite and to prevent recurrence. Persons being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners complete treatment and have no symptoms.

Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is treatable with antimicrobial medicines (orally or vaginally) prescribed by a health care provider. Two different medicines are recommended as treatment for BV: metronidazole or clindamycin. Metronidazole cannot be taken with alcohol or it will cause extreme sickness, so read the directions on your medication carefully.

Prevention

Trichomoniasis

There are several ways to prevent trichomoniasis, the most effective being using condoms correctly every time you have sex. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Since BV can occur in the absence of sexual intercourse and is not completely understood by scientists, the best ways to prevent it are unknown. However, enough is known to suggest that BV is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners. Help reduce the risk of upsetting the natural chemical balance of the vagina and developing BV by using condoms, limiting the number of sex partners, refraining from douching and using all of the medicine prescribed for treatment of BV, even if the symptoms go away.

HIV/ AIDS

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

  • Acquired means you can get infected with it
  • Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases
  • Syndrome means a group of health problems in the body’s system that make up a disease

AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Being HIV positive is not the same as having full-blown AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but may not get sick for many years. As HIV progresses to full-blown AIDS, the immune system gets weaker, allowing viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria, that usually don’t cause any problems, to cause opportunistic infections and make the HIV-positive person very sick.

Symptoms

Some people develop symptoms shortly after being infected. On average:

  • It takes more than 7-10 years to develop symptoms
  • There are several stages of HIV disease
  • The first symptom of HIV disease is often swollen lymph glands in the throat, armpit, or groin
  • Other early symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. They may only last for a few weeks. Then there are usually no symptoms for many years.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS although there are a variety of new treatments and medication cocktails that help people manage the disease and maintain their normal life activities.

Prevention

  • Use condoms to prevent transmission of bodily fluids.
  • Be tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections every year.
  • Do not have sex if you have any open sores or rawness of skin because women and men with open sores from herpes and other infections get HIV more easily than other people.
  • If you are a drug-user, avoid sharing needles with others and disinfect needles prior to use.
  • Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.

STI’s

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

What is a STI?

It is an infection or disease passed from person to person through sexual contact.

What is the safest way to prevent an STI?

Abstinence is the safest way to prevent against an STI but, if you decide that you are going to engage in sex then you should always use a condom to protect yourself. Don’t rely on a condom as your only form of birth control, there are several other options available.

What are some common STIs?

What do I do if I think I have one?

Some options are:

  • call PSU Health Services (603) 535-2853 to make an appointment
  • call your own doctor
  • call and make an appointment at Family Planning (603) 536-3584 which is located on 258 Highland St. in Plymouth

Sleep

March 29th, 2010 by Noelle

Why do we need to sleep? No one really knows, but there are all kinds of theories, including these:sleeping

  • Sleep gives the body a chance to repair muscles and other tissues, replace aging or dead cells, etc.
  • Sleep gives the brain a chance to organize and archive memories. Dreams are thought by some to be part of this process.
  • Sleep lowers our energy consumption, so we need three meals a day rather than four or five. Since we can’t do anything in the dark anyway, we might as well “turn off” and save the energy.

What we all know is that, with a good night’s sleep, everything looks and feels better in the morning. Both the brain and the body are refreshed and ready for a new day.

(Source: How Sleep Works)

Resources

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

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