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Vince Mercuri: Manage stress & smell the roses

| Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, 9:24 a.m.

On a recent Sunday afternoon while walking through the flower garden at Hartwood Acres, my granddaughter ran from flower to flower, stopping to take in the fragrance and beauty of each plant. She exclaimed over the unique smell of each blossom and the vibrant red and yellow that dotted the landscape.

Such innocence and enjoyment of the beauty of nature reminded me of the importance of personal wellness — of stopping and smelling the roses.

With the pace of life continuing to increase at a rapid rate, the need for intentional, healthy and balanced self-care is evident. Our technology-driven, media-saturated, 24/7 information overload can impact the emotional well-being of vulnerable people.

The past two decades have seen an increase in prescriptions for medications to treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and related mental health disorders. While medications may be a part of the solution, treatment needs to include a plan and efforts to self-regulate. Too often, people want to take a pill without changing any of their behaviors. Medication management must include behavioral changes to be successful.

There are five ways to manage stress:

1. Change your work and social environment. Adapt the way you work and your priorities, and reduce on-the-job stress. Renew your personal relationships, seek support, and find greater enjoyment and happiness with family and friends.

2. Understand your emotions. Become more aware of the range of your feelings and learn how to appropriately deal with anger, fear and anxiety, as well as positive feelings. Know your emotional triggers and have a plan to address/resolve them in a healthy manner.

3. Learn “un-stress” remedies. Reading, music, walking, jogging, television, self-talk, hobbies, quiet time or talking with someone can be quick, simple, effective antidotes to stress.

4. Take care of your body. Learn healthy eating habits and get plenty of rest and sleep. Exercise is one of the most effective stress relievers. Exercise helps flush the stress hormone adrenaline out of the system and releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.

5. Provide for your spiritual needs. Successful approaches to stress management need to be holistic — encompassing body, mind and spirit. Spiritual growth includes prayer, music, reflection and fellowship with others who share the same spiritual beliefs.

To solve the puzzle of stress management, we must analyze our lifestyles, clarify life goals, set priorities and adopt a plan of action that is lived daily, while integrating these five concepts in a manner that helps us to stop and smell the roses.

Vince Mercuri, executive director of the Open Door Alcohol/Drug Treatment Center and Crisis Intervention Program in Indiana, Pa., is a member of the Valley News Dispatch Editorial Board.

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