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Homework Stress Symptoms

From kindergarten to the final years of high school, recent research suggests that some students are getting excessive amounts of homework.

In turn, when students are pushed to handle a workload that’s out of sync with their development level, it can lead to significant stress — for children and their parents.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the National PTA (NPTA) support a standard of “10 minutes of homework per grade level” and setting a general limit on after-school studying.

For kids in first grade, that means 10 minutes a night, while high school seniors could get two hours of work per night.

But the most recent study to examine the issue found that kids in early elementary school received about three times the amount of recommended homework.

Published in The American Journal of Family Therapy, the 2015 study surveyed more than 1,100 parents in Rhode Island with school-age children.

The researchers found that first and second graders received 28 and 29 minutes of homework per night.

Kindergarteners received 25 minutes of homework per night, on average. But according to the standards set by the NEA and NPTA, they shouldn’t receive any at all.

A contributing editor of the study, Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, told CNN that she found it “absolutely shocking” to learn that kindergarteners had that much homework.

And all those extra assignments may lead to family stress, especially when parents with limited education aren’t confident in their ability to help kids with the work.

The researchers reported that family fights about homework were 200 percent more likely when parents didn’t have a college degree.

Some parents, in fact, have decided to opt out of the whole thing. The Washington Post reported in 2016 that some parents have just instructed their younger children not to do their homework assignments.

They report the no-homework policy has taken the stress out of their afternoons and evenings. In addition, it's been easier for their children to participate in after-school activities.

This new parental directive may be healthier for children, too.

Experts say there may be real downsides for young kids who are pushed to do more homework than the “10 minutes per grade” standard.

“The data shows that homework over this level is not only not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA, but there’s really a plethora of evidence that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, their grades, their self-confidence, their social skills, and their quality of life,” Donaldson-Pressman told CNN.

Read more: Less math and science homework beneficial to middle school students »

Consequences for high school students

Other studies have found that high school students may also be overburdened with homework — so much that it’s taking a toll on their health.

In 2013, research conducted at Stanford University found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from society.

That study, published in The Journal of Experimental Education, suggested that any more than two hours of homework per night is counterproductive.

However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework each night, on average.

To conduct the study, researchers surveyed more than 4,300 students at 10 high-performing high schools in upper middle-class California communities. They also interviewed students about their views on homework.

When it came to stress, more than 70 percent of students said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56 percent listing homework as a primary stressor. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms.

The researchers also found that spending too much time on homework meant that students were not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills. Students were more likely to forgo activities, stop seeing friends or family, and not participate in hobbies.

Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

"Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," said Denise Pope, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education, and a co-author of a study.

Read more: Should schools screen children for mental health problems? »

Working as hard as adults

A smaller New York University study published last year noted similar findings.

It focused more broadly on how students at elite private high schools cope with the combined pressures of school work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parents’ expectations.

That study, which appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, noted serious health effects for high schoolers, such as chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, and alcohol and drug use.

The research involved a series of interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, as well as a survey of a total of 128 juniors from two private high schools.

About half of the students said they received at least three hours of homework per night. They also faced pressure to take college-level classes and excel in activities outside of school.

Many students felt they were being asked to work as hard as adults, and noted that their workload seemed inappropriate for their development level. They reported having little time for relaxing or creative activities.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

The researchers expressed concern that students at high-pressure high schools can get burned out before they even get to college.

“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat — that’s what it can be for some of these students,” said Noelle Leonard, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing, and lead study author, in a press release.

Read more: Lack of mental healthcare for children reaches ‘crisis’ level »

What can be done?

Experts continue to debate the benefits and drawbacks of homework.

But according to an article published this year in Monitor on Psychology, there’s one thing they agree on: the quality of homework assignments matters.

In the Stanford study, many students said that they often did homework they saw as "pointless" or "mindless."

Pope, who co-authored that study, argued that homework assignments should have a purpose and benefit, and should be designed to cultivate learning and development.

It’s also important for schools and teachers to stick to the 10-minutes per grade standard.

In an interview with Monitor on Psychology, Pope pointed out that students can learn challenging skills even when less homework is assigned.

Pope described one teacher she worked with who taught advanced placement biology, and experimented by dramatically cutting down homework assignments. First the teacher cut homework by a third, and then cut the assignments in half.

The students’ test scores didn’t change.

“You can have a rigorous course and not have a crazy homework load,” Pope said.

Editor’s Note: The story was originally published on March 11, 2014. It was updated by Jenna Flannigan on August 11, 2016 and then updated again on April 11, 2017 by David Mills.

Feelings of stress and anxiety are a part of life. Some levels of stress can actually be good for us, as the right kind of stress encourages us toward change and growth. However, when stress and anxiety exist for an extended period of time, they can become a burden or even a health risk. This guidebook will help you recognize and understand feelings of stress and anxiety and learn how to manage them so that they don’t become overwhelming.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge. Though stress is often perceived as bad, it can actually be good in some respects. The right kind of stress can sharpen the mind and reflexes. It might be able to help the body perform better, or help you escape a dangerous situation.

Stress produces a physiological reaction in your body. Hormones are released, which results in physical manifestations of stress. These can include slowed digestion, shaking, tunnel vision, accelerated breathing and heart rate, dilation of pupils and flushed skin. This process is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. That is just what it sounds like: Our bodies are poised to either run away from the stressor or stick around and fight against it.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are three types of stress: acute, episodic acute and chronic.

Acute stress

Acute stress is the most common form and is the result of recent or anticipated stressors. Acute stress can be both positive and negative. For example, the excitement before a fun event is a type of positive acute stress. Getting into a car accident is negative acute stress. As long as the acute stress doesn’t last for extended periods or occur too frequently, there is nothing wrong with suffering from acute stress. It happens to all of us, and it passes with time.

Episodic acute

Episodic acute stress is acute stress that occurs frequently. This is the kind of stress that continuously pops up, sometimes in a pattern. It is accompanied by worry and angst about things that are happening to you or around you. You might be especially prone to this is you have a “type A” personality, as you can have a sense of urgency and a need to get things done that might actually become overwhelming. Episodic acute stress is a recurring type of stress, happening over and over.

Chronic acute stress

Chronic acute stress can be thought of as never-ending stress that relentlessly wears away at you. If you don’t see an end in sight, if you are facing something that has no way out, then you are likely to begin suffering from chronic stress. This type of stress eventually begins to affect your health, and can lead to heart problems, strokes, or even cancer, among other issues. Chronic stress definitely requires reaching out for help.

QUIZ

How do you know you’re stressed?

The following quiz will help you determine if you’re stressed and if so, how much stress you’re facing.

Here’s how to grade your quiz:

Almost never applies to me 0 points

Applies to me some of the time or to a small extent 1 points

Applies to me a substantial amount of time, but not the majority of the time 2 points

Applies to me most of the time, almost all of the time 3 points

QUESTION SCORE
1.

I find it difficult to take the first step to get things done.

0123
2.

I have tremors, twitches or shakiness in parts of my body.

0123
3.

I worry about situations where I could make a fool of myself.

0123
4.

I feel depressed or melancholy.

0123
5.

I no longer enjoy the things I used to enjoy.

0123
6.

I tend to overreact to situations, whether personal or professional.

0123
7.

I am easily agitated or annoyed.

0123
8.

I have trouble sleeping or falling to sleep.

0123
9.

I engage in activities or work that make me nervous or anxious

0123
10.

I get upset by unimportant or small things.

0123

Symptoms and Signs

There are four primary types of symptoms of stress: physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral. Depending on the individual and the cause of the stress, the number of symptoms from each category can vary. The below chart will give an overview of types of symptoms that may be present in someone suffering from stress.

Physical Symptoms

  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Involuntary twitching or shaking
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Getting sick more often than normal
  • Reduced libido
  • Chest pain with or without tachycardia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Flushed skin
  • Clenched teeth
  • Unusual changes in weight

Emotional Symptoms

  • Less than normal patience
  • Feelings of sadness and/or depression
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced or eliminated desire for activities once enjoyed or regularly done
  • Irritability
  • Sense of isolation
  • Trouble coping with life’s issues
  • More frequent or extreme pessimistic attitude

 

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Impaired concentration
  • Trouble with remembering things, such as homework assignments or deadlines
  • Chronic worrying
  • Anxious thoughts or feelings
  • Reduced or impaired judgment
  • Impaired speech (mumbling or stuttering)
  • Repetitive or unwanted thoughts

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • New or increased use of drugs, tobacco or drugs
  • Nail biting
  • Pacing
  • Abnormal failure or delay to complete everyday responsibilities
  • Significant change in school or work performance
  • Unusual desire for social isolation
  • Frequent lying
  • Trouble getting along with peers, such as coworkers, classmates or teachers

Stressed Students

College Stress by the Numbers

20%

of college students say they feel stressed “most of the time.” [Source: AP.]

10%

of college students had thoughts of suicide[Source: AP.]

34%

of college students report feeling depressed at least at one point within the last 90 days [Source: ADAA.]

13%

of college students have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental health condition. [Source: ADAA.]

80%

of college students say they sometimes or often feel stressed[Source: ADAA.]

About half of surveyed college students felt overwhelmed with anxiety at least once within the
last 12 months .[Source: APA.]

Causes of College Stress

Living Away From Home

For many students, college is the first time they have lived away from home or been away from their family for any significant period of time. Besides that, it’s a very unfamiliar environment. Everything is different – the food, the people and the living accommodations. Even though most students eventually get used to these new things without a problem, the first few weeks of college can create a stressful environment. This is true even if you are truly excited about the changes. Remember that even positive changes can induce stress.

There is also a change in the support environment. When there is a big test, bad day or confusing situation, family members and old friends are not readily available for support and if they are, it’s through a telephone or computer rather than in person. This can be tough to adjust to, especially during those first few months.

Academic Demands and Test Anxiety

This may be the most common long-term cause of stress for college students. After all, that’s why students go to college – to learn. When you don’t get the results you think you should get, or you feel pressured to get certain academic results, this can cause a lot of stress. For some students, college is the first time they are academically challenged. If high school was a breeze for you, college may be the first time you get a low grade on a test. Consequently, test anxiety may be experienced for the first time or with increased intensity.

Test anxiety is anxiety that usually comes before or during the taking of tests. The symptoms can be physical and mental and usually inhibit your ability to perform as well as you otherwise could. Ways to manage or reduce the anxiety include:

Study as much as you can. One of the causes of test anxiety is the fear that you didn’t study enough. By studying as much as you can, you can reduce this fear.

Try to mimic test taking conditions. It might be taking practice tests, studying in the same classroom or building where you will be taking the test or doing practice problems under timed conditions. These steps can help familiarize you to otherwise unfamiliar test taking conditions.

Learn to study more effectively. Maybe it’s getting a tutor to help explain concepts, someone to double check your work or using something as simple as flashcards to study, but finding someone to help you study more effectively can make all the difference.

Find ways to calm down. What cools you down? Squeezing a stress ball? Taking deep breaths? Whatever relaxation technique you choose can help reduce the symptoms of text anxiety.

Watch your diet. Eat well and eat properly. For example, too much caffeine can exacerbate the physical symptoms of test anxiety.

Get enough sleep. Research is clear that not getting enough sleep can impair one’s memory and reasoning abilities. The more clear-headed you are, the less anxious you will feel.

Exercise regularly. Exercise can release tension, and the less tension you feel as you go into the test, the better off you might be.

Make sure you have plenty of time. You’re worried enough about the test. No need to add more worry about being late and having less time to take the test as a result of unexpected traffic or a test location change.

Resources to help reduce text anxiety can be your school’s academic services office, your family, classmates and the following websites:

Finances

In addition to being on your own physically and maybe even emotionally, you may also be on your own financially. Everything from rent and food to gas and entertainment is now your financial responsibility. You might find that you need to take on a part-time job when you aren’t in class. Even if you have a scholarship or loan, or have a “full ride” that helps you pay for it all, there are still the required phone calls, questions, paperwork and deadlines that have to be met in order to ensure the funds keep coming.

Post-Graduate Plans

After college is over, then what? That’s a huge question: Figuring out the answer is like laying out blueprints for the rest of your life. There are many stressors that can affect your plans, such as not having a job upon graduation, being forced to settle for a job you don’t really want, or struggling to get into graduate schools. On the other hand, you might land a great job, but the prospect of paying back student loans is now starting to hang over your head. Ultimately, the fear of the unknown can really make a huge difference in how much stress you feel about your post-graduate life.

5 School Stress Busting Tips

No matter where you are in the school journey, these tips can help you cope with and manage the stress that comes along with it.

Get plenty of sleep.

Not getting enough sleep impairs academic performance and makes it harder to get through the day.

Think positive.

Research has shown that positive thinking may improve physical well-being, produce lower feelings of depression and produce lower levels of distress.

Have a stress “outlet.”

This could be a social activity like going out or participating in intramural sports, finding a hobby or joining a social club.

Engage in relaxation techniques.

This can include things like slowly counting to ten, meditation, thinking positive thoughts, visualization or playing with a stress ball.

Talk to someone.

Sometimes just talking about what’s stressful or having someone listen to your problems can drastically reduce stress.

Get Help for Student Stress

There are several resources available on campus to help you deal with students stress. The chart below can help point you in the right direction to find help on your school’s campus.

StressorAvailable School Resources
Academic Issues

Your academic or student advisor can provide advice or guidance. The on-campus academic services office should be able to arrange a tutor or other extra academic help.

Substance Abuse

The student health center, counseling services center, or campus medical facility will have free and anonymous therapy or counseling services available.

Eating and Weight Management

The student health services and recreation/fitness center might have fitness experts or counselors to help you.

Time Management

The academic services office or student services office can point you in the right direction to more effectively manage your time.

Sexual Problems

The student health center can provide physical checkups and STD/STI screenings, as well as counseling for issues sexually active students may encounter.

Depression/Anxiety

In addition to the student health center, your school may have a counseling and psychiatric services center which can provide mental health services.

Health Concerns

Student health services are always available to answer any health questions you might have.

Finances

The financial aid office and student services center will have information and advice about managing money.

Housing Issues

Your resident advisor and student housing department will have procedures in place to deal with problems with roommates or living facilities.

Problems Relaxing

Many schools have a massage and/or physical therapy team which can provide services to help students unwind.

Homesickness, Family Issues and Bereavement

Counseling will be available in at least one, if not all, of the following organizations: student health services, counseling and psychiatric services center or student services center.

Student Stress and Anxiety Help and Resources

Interview with an Expert

Learn what expert Melissa Cohen, LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has to say about stress and anxiety.

Everyone deals with some level of stress from time to time. What signs make it clear that it’s time to get help?

Feeling stress and anxiety is normal but they can manifest in different ways for each individual. For some people, it’s time to seek help when your feelings begin to have a negative impact on everyday life and your ability to carry out daily routines or have normal relationships. For others, it is when these thoughts and feelings begin to prevent them from being able to focus and enjoy the important things in life, when their stress and anxiety are the only thing they can focus on, or when their thoughts and feelings begin to interfere with work or school. It can be any one or combination that sparks the need to get help.

How can someone spot the differences between stress and anxiety? What are those differences?

Stress and anxiety can share some of the same primary physical symptoms, such as, pounding hearts, rapid breathing, dilated pupils and muscle tension. The symptoms vary but can overlap and some people are more susceptible to them than others. Some people stress when making ordinary daily decisions, such as, where to go, what to eat and what to buy and other people thrive and can be highly productive when driven by these forces of pressure.

The words are mostly used interchangeably but they are different experiences and you can have one without the other. Stressful feelings include frustration and nervousness and anxious feelings include fear, unease and worry. The key difference is that stress is a reaction to something that is happening now and is triggered by a specific situation. Anxiety is concern about something that may or may not happen in the future. Anxiety is also the stress that continues after the stressor is gone.

What can someone expect when they reach out for help from a counselor, psychiatrist, social worker or other professional?

Reaching out to someone is not a bad thing. It is probably the healthiest and most positive thing you can do. Pretending that everything is ok is not the answer. It even helps to be proactive. Something does not have to be wrong with you for you to seek help. Therapy can also be for the person who just want to achieve a goal and needs some guidance. You can count on someone to listen and to help you focus on the cause, the feelings associated with the cause and ways to manage and work through it, not against it.

Once you locate a therapist, the hardest part is to make the initial phone contact. Once you make the first appointment then you need to show up. Be prepared to tell your story. Most therapists use this time to get to know you and your concerns. Therapists are not there to judge, they are there to listen. Speak about the current issue but don’t forget to tell them what makes you, you. There is some room to talk about the past but you do not need to go into specific details, there will be time for that. Focus on what is most important to you, your current feelings and how long you have had them. If you have questions for the therapist about your goals and plans, don’t be afraid to ask them. Share with the therapist what you want to get out of therapy, how you would like things to be different, what you have done to feel better and if you have talked to anyone else. If you are on medication or have any documents that you feel will be helpful, share them.

The therapist will take notes but it is just for their records and they will have to give you a diagnosis, mostly for insurance purposes. However, if they feel it is necessary, they may give you a referral to a psychiatrist for medication. They will also schedule you next appointment. It is important that you find a therapist that you feel comfortable with because you need to be honest with them and yourself. Give it a chance even if you don’t click right away. If you have concerns, discuss them.

After your first session, it is common to have many feelings that range from relieved to horrified, peaceful to more anxious, discouraged to hopeful or any combination of these and many more. Make sure that you feel there is a plan in place and that you feel listened to and comfortable. Take an active role in your treatment and don’t put off taking the first step. Therapy is a team effort and you need to come prepared, open and honest. Also, have realistic expectations. Therapy is not a quick fix but a process. It is a tool that can be used to resolve problems.

Career and Work Stress

When pursuing a career or entering the workforce, you can expect to deal with all sorts of stress – and it comes from all sides. You might face stress from your boss, your coworkers, the corporation or business itself, and much more. Here’s a rundown of the stress that most people face in their career or work situation.

Difficult people. Sometimes you wind up with the dream job; however, most people have at least one coworker or boss who makes them cringe the moment a meeting is scheduled. Working with strong personalities and difficult people can make life tough on a day-to-day basis. Learning to deal with people like this can be tricky, and unfortunately, it might take a great deal of time and energy.

Unreasonable demands. Sometimes difficult people can lead to very difficult work environments. We have all heard the horror stories of too much work being thrown at one person – “drowning in paperwork” can spell the death throes of what might have once been a good job. Dealing with demands that press your time and abilities to the breaking point is one reason why some people become so stressed out that they actually choose to walk away from a formerly good job.

Job loss. No matter how tough a job is, no matter how much you don’t get along with those around you, most people will agree that having a job is much better than not having one. When you suffer a job loss, it can send you into a tailspin of stress and anxiety. What will you do now? How long will it take to find another job? Depending upon how the previous job ended, you might be even more worried – for instance, what if your old boss won’t be giving you a good recommendation?

Financial stress. When there is a job loss, a promotion falls through, a big account goes under, or you otherwise face issues that put a strain on finances, stress is almost inevitable. Dealing with financial stress as a result of the workplace is common, even if you have plenty of money in the bank; for instance, going into the meeting that determines your raise or bonus for the year can be nerve-wracking, even if you know you have done a good job. In addition, constantly working to make more money and get a higher pay grade can make you feel like a hamster in a wheel – you are working like crazy but never really getting anywhere.

Stressful jobs by nature. Sometimes you embark on a job that turns out to be incredibly stressful, simply due to the nature of what you do. For instance, social workers might face situations with small children that are very distressing, nurses might deal with grief-stricken families, and police officers might face danger on a regular basis. In situations like this, finding a good balance that alleviates the stress is an absolute must.

5 Work Stress Busting Tips

Every job is going to be stressful at some point. Whether you are working on a tight deadline or facing a make-or-break situation, here are a few ways that you can alleviate stress, at least to some extent.

Make the most of workday breaks.

Take some time to cool down and take a deep breath. A slow walk and deep breathing during the middle of the day can help center you.

Have a place to vent.

You might not want to discuss your work troubles work coworkers, as gossip can run rampant. But have someone you can talk to outside of work who will understand your situation.

Walk away.

Never let yourself become angry and lash out at work – that will be detrimental to your work experience and lead to more stress. Find some way to blow off steam.

Stay reasonable.

There are certain job standards you must live up to, but don’t be pushed to go too far above what is reasonable for your pay grade. Never expect perfection!

Tweak your job description.

If you find that you are consistently doing work that is not in your job description, speak to your employer about either delegating that work to someone else or compensating you fairly for it.

Get Help for Career Stress

  
Employee helpline

Most companies have an employee helpline meant for problems like this. The call is usually entirely confidential, and you might even be able to schedule phone sessions with a counselor.

Financial or credit counselor

If you are worried about finances, talking to someone about money matters can help. A financial counselor might also be able to advise you on how to make the most of your salary.

Human resources

Your human resources department is there to help you with situations that seem insurmountable. They can guide you to the proper resources and possibly help you with internal issues.

Fitness center

Does your workplace offer a fitness center? Take advantage of it during your lunch breaks or right before or after work to burn off some steam.

Whistleblower hotline

When there are serious indiscretions, illegal activity and the like happening in the workplace, becoming a whistleblower might be your best bet to a better work environment.

Fellow co-workers

If you are in a stressful work environment, how are your coworkers dealing with it? They might be able to provide you with tips on how they stay calm and cool.

Career Stress Resources

Stress related to health conditions/issues

When you are facing a tough health condition or concern, stress tends to skyrocket. That’s because in addition to the illness itself, there are many other issues to worry about while you are going through a trying time. Here’s a brief rundown of the stress you might expect to feel when you get bad news from the doctor.

Pain, fear, and uncertainty. What is going to happen to you? What will the outcome be? What kind of procedures will you have to endure? How long will this last? Depending upon the condition you are dealing with, the answers to these questions can be frightening. The stress you feel during a medical crisis can be compounded by getting negative or troubling answers to your concerns.

The money issues. Serious health conditions or sudden illness come along with many problems, and at the heart of that might be finances. You might face a loss of income while you are in the hospital or recuperating. If the situation is bad enough, you might have to give up your job. In the meantime, you are paying for your treatments, and dealing with the insurance company. Many individuals might have great insurance, but that doesn’t negate the costs of copays, deductibles, and out of pocket limits – all of which can make a huge dent in your savings.

Worrying about your loved ones. They are worried about you, certainly. But you don’t want to be a burden, and so you are worried about making life as easy for them as possible while you go through this trying time. By attempting to take care of them, rather than letting them take care of you, the stress you feel is likely going to increase dramatically.

Caregiving. Speaking of loved ones, what if you are the caregiver for someone who is seriously ill? You have a great deal of stress on your plate, too. You want to keep them comfortable, say all the right things, and do everything in the right way, but those responsibilities can be overwhelming. Reaching out for help might make you feel as though you are burdening others; that can prompt you to dig deep for more patience and strength, and do it all yourself. You might not even recognize that you need help, too.

5 Health Conditions/Issues Stress Busting Tips

When stress becomes overwhelming, it’s time to calm down. These tips can help you deal with health conditions or medical issues without blowing your top.

Get all the information you can.

Knowledge is power, and it can help you cope. The more you know about your condition and treatments, the more in-control you will feel.

Enlist help.

When you are faced with a debilitating medical condition, you cannot handle it alone. Recognize that you need help, and don’t hesitate to reach out for it.

Have a good cry.

Trying to stay strong in the face of a serious medical condition might help at first, but over time the lack of “falling apart” can take a toll. You deserve the time to grieve the situation you are in; allow yourself to cry, scream, rant, and otherwise take out the stress before it makes you even sicker.

Make plans.

If your medical condition will be a temporary one, consider it a wake-up call, and start planning the rest of your life accordingly. If you are facing a terminal illness, make plans for the time you have left.

Find a spiritual advisor.

Even if you are not a religious or spiritual person, finding someone who can talk to you about “what comes after” might be a helpful step to put your illness in perspective.

Get help for health-related stress

  
Social workers

Every hospital or healthcare facility has a social worker on staff, or is able to reach out to one within a short period of time. The social worker can help you find resources such as support groups or financial assistance.

Respite care

Those who are taking care of a loved one can turn to respite care, a service often provided by members of the local community. This allows caregivers to take time away from the responsibility and reduce their stress level.

Financial department

Contacting the billing and financial department can result in payment plans, the potential for lowered payments and other financial assistance.

Support groups

Talking to those who are going through the same issues can help alleviate stress. Support groups are available for almost everything, and not just for patients – they are good for children, caregivers, parents and more.

Physicians and nurses

Those who work in the health care field can direct you to community resources that can help with everything from getting the right medical equipment to introducing you to new physicians.

Health-Related Stress Resources

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