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Stress and Mental Wellbeing

Chronic stress can negatively impact both physical and mental health.  Unfortunately, many of us experience stress from multiple sources: work, family, finances, health concerns, and competing demands on our time.  Finding ways to reduce stress and to regularly practice coping strategies, improve your physical and mental wellbeing!  Many sources of stress are beyond our control – but we can have significant power over how much stress affects us.
Feelings Stressed?  You Are Not Alone!
Data from the 2014 Work Stress Survey, conducted by Nielsen, reported that 80 percent of employed adults stay they are “stressed out” on the job.  Pay levels, unreasonable workload, and long commutes were among the top factors listed by respondents as contributors to work-related stress.
Work is only part of our busy lives.  Most of us also have other demands on our time and energy.
The good news is that there are ways to help manage your work day and other time commitments.
 
 
Support Yourself with Healthy Lifestyle Habits​
It is easier to handle the curveballs of life when we are rested and healthy.  Being physically active, getting adequate sleep and consuming a balanced diet are some of the strategies we can use to help to fight stress.
Physical Activity:
Numerous studies suggest that regular participation in aerobic exercise can decrease tension, elevate mood, improve sleep, reduce fatigue, and can have an anti-anxiety effect.  As a result, physical activity is often a recommended coping strategy for both preventing and reducing stress.
Visit the fitness section for ideas on how to become more active.
Sleep:
While the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, most adults should get about 7–8 hours of sleep each night.  Insufficient sleep can make you irritable and can make it difficult to focus the next day.  For more information about the importance of sleep and how to get a good night’s rest, click here. 
Test your Sleep IQ with this interactive quiz.
Balanced Diet:
Consuming a balanced diet can help you stay energetic and healthy during times of stress. For tips on how to improve your diet, visit the nutrition section.
When we experience stress, there is another reason to pay attention to what we eat.  Many of us are “emotional” eaters and turn to food for comfort. Unfortunately, we often crave foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar, which means we can end up consuming more calories than we need.  Sometimes knowing why we eat can help us make more informed food choices.

 

​Emotional Wellness Screening
The NIH Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers Emotional Wellness Screening to help you determine if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or excess alcohol use.
 
The screening is not meant to serve as a clinical evaluation and is not designed to diagnose any health condition. Rather, its aim is to help you identify symptoms that may warrant further examination by a health professional such as an EAP Consultant or your doctor.
 
After completing the screening tool below, you can contact the EAP office to schedule a brief in-person consultation to review the result.
 
 
EAP Office:   301-496-3164
 

 

 
Tips to Help Reduce Job-Related Stress

1.  Practice breathing techniques. Slow down your breathing and actively concentrate on it. This is often the easiest way to self-calm… as long as you remember to do it!

2.  Build downtime into your schedule. A short walk, a break to clear your head, or a short chat with a colleague or family member can help. Even just standing up at your desk and stretching your body will help you reset and refocus.
3.  Drop activities that sap your time or energy Write down your priority tasks, and save less urgent matters for later.
4.  Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes of physically activity most days.  You can do it in short bouts of 10+ minutes each. Try a new exercise routine, join the onsite gym, or start a small walking group. Even short standing, walking in place, and stretching can help – remember to move.
5.  Healthy eating gives you the food energy you need throughout the day.
6.  Lights out.  Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep/day.  Less is cheating yourself!
 
 
Mental Health Topics of Interest​
In addition to stress, some of us may experience more serious or chronic  mental  health challenges.  In fact, mental health disorders are more common than you might think, affecting an estimated 22% of American adults each year.
 
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides an overview of symptoms, causes, and treatments for a variety of mental health conditions, including the following:
 
 
(For additional topics, click here)
 
NIMH also provides specific information about mental health by age and gender:

For more information about getting help for a possible mental health illness, click here.
​Breathe2Relax
Deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful relaxation technique and stress management tool. 
 
The Breathe2Relax app, developed by the Department of Defense, provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn diaphragmatic breathing.
 
It is available for both iPhones and Android phones.
 
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Federal Workplace Conversations about Mental Health​
Mental health can be a delicate balance, with problems developing over a series of adverse circumstances.  Individuals at risk may demonstrate an inability to make decisions, repeatedly miss deadlines, be late to work, or exhibit distractibility and a general lack of focus.  We need to do everything we can to provide employees and their supervisors with tools to recognize impending problems and be able to respond appropriately.
If you are looking to find help the following website can provide assistance.