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Courtesy of WellMed

By Dr. Mukesh Patel, MD, MPH, WellMed at Clear Lake

We all have stress in our lives. Whether it’s a demanding job, juggling responsibilities at home or simply dealing with the challenges that life inevitably brings, there are countless challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming.

According to the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, while stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people frequently experience while confronting life’s challenges, if unresolved stress or anxiety becomes chronic or overwhelming, your health could be affected.

Stress can cause many health issues and unhealthy behaviors, such as increased use of alcohol. Stress and alcohol issues can be related and often are compounding issues as people suffering from anxiety and depression are more likely to report an increase in drinking than those without mental health issues, according to a study by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

This study also finds that older adults with anxiety and depression were more likely to develop alcohol dependence.

At WellMed, we recommend that adults find and learn healthy coping skills to manage stress without alcohol or use of illicit drugs. Multiple strategies center around relaxation responses and techniques to counteract the ill effects of stress if things become overwhelming. Coping skills can include:

1. Physical Activity:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity is one of the most important things that you can do for your health. In addition to strengthening your bones and muscles, helping with weight management, and reducing your risk of chronic diseases, it may also help reduce your risk of depression and anxiety.

WellMed Disclaimer: Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. This is especially important for those with underlying medical conditions. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you.

2. Staying Connected:

  • According to the CDC, conversation can be a powerful coping tool – talking to friends, family and people you trust about your feelings and worries may help manage stress and promote resilience.

3. Engaging in mindfulness techniques:

  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), exploring a relaxing activity that incorporates meditation, muscle relaxation and breathing exercises can improve your mental health.
  • Coincidentally both Stress Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month occur in April, and both initiatives are great reminders to be aware of how stress and subsequently turning to alcohol to relieve that stress can be harmful to your health. Next time you are feeling stressed, it may be a good time to try one of these healthy coping skills.

Dr. Mukesh Patel, MD, MPH, is board certified in Internal Medicine and practices with WellMed at Clear Lake. He received his medical degree from the Medical College in Baroda, India. He is fluent in English, Hindi, and Gujarati.  Dr. Patel is proud to work with such a resolute team of medical professionals to help his patients achieve their healthcare goals.