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Are You Stressed Out?

We all experience stress from time to time, but a constant bombardment drains our system.

Nashville, Ark. – Let’s face it, the last seven months have been stressful! Restrictions from Covid-19 have caused a lot of stress. The upcoming election is causing a lot of stress. Turn on the news and chances are you will be stressed within a few minutes. We all experience stress from time to time. However, an overload of stress can cause problems on our well-being.

            Think of your body as a computer. It takes in information and puts out responses. Pressure can be useful or harmful, which can result in brief responses like “Fight or Flight”. A constant bombardment of stress drains our system. Like a computer, the body needs a break to update.

            Here are some ways to recognize when your body needs a break:

  • Headaches – Stress can trigger and intensify tension headaches. To help avoid headaches, be sure to drink plenty of water. Most people do not drink enough water. Schedule water breaks throughout the day. You might also fill a water bottle in the morning and sip on it throughout the day. The average person should drink 6 to 8 (8 ounce) glasses of water each day. Other things that trigger stress headaches include caffeine and too much screen time. Limit the amount of time you spend in front of a computer, television, or even phone screen.
  • Stomachaches – Stress can make tummy aches, nausea, and GI upset. Make healthy food choices for meals and snacks. Avoid fatty or spicy foods. Choose vitamin rich fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to eat. Sometimes stress can cause you to overeat or take away your appetite. Plan regular meals and snacks that are healthy.
  • High Blood Pressure – Stress tightens blood vessels causing high blood pressure. Schedule time during the day to do some deep breathing. There are lots of free apps available that you can download to your tablet or phone that will help coach you. Play some soft music and try the 4-7-8 deep breathing method. Inhale on a count of 4, hold for 7, exhale on a count of 8.
  • Tense muscles – Stress tightens muscles causing stress aches in the head, neck, and back. Take time throughout the day to loosen tight muscles. Use muscle relaxation. Tighten then fully release one muscle group at a time from your toes all the way up to your forehead. Then sit with all muscles fully relaxed. You have heard it before, but exercise really does help relieve stress. Get outside, enjoy the cooler weather and go for a walk.
  • Insomnia – Stress can make it hard to fall asleep. Try reading, listening to relaxing music or guided meditation. There are several free meditation apps available. Also schedule sleep to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Block calls and texts on your phone.
  • Frequent Illness – The immune system cannot function as well when the body is already stressed. Do everything in your power to fight off infections. Eat healthy, exercise and reduce stress. Get your flu shot!

For more information on handling stress, contact the Howard County Extension Office and ask for the free booklet on “Managing Stress”. You can also visit the website www.uaex.edu/life-skills-wellness/personal-family-well-being/personal/managing-stress. Information for this article was adapted from the website Spend Smart, Eat Smart from the University of Iowa Extension service.

Recipe of the Week

            Cooler weather means soup at my house. Here is a recipe that tastes great and is budget friendly. As its names states, it only takes fifteen minutes to prepare!

15-Minute Soup

1 (16 ounce) can unsalted Great Northern Beans, drained

1 (14 ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth

1 (16 ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes, undrained

1 small onion, chopped

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 (10 ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach

½ cup uncooked whole-wheat macaroni

            In a 2-quart pot, combine all ingredients except spinach and macaroni. Heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Stir in and break up spinach; bring to a boil again. Stir in macaroni and simmer until pasta is tender, about 6-8 minutes. Yield: 4 servings (1 ½ cups per serving)

Nutrition Information per Serving: 145 calories, 0.5g fat, 7g protein, 28g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 135 mg sodium. Excellent source of vitamins A and C. Good source of iron and calcium.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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