The secret to handling stress isn’t avoiding it but managing it, according to Dr. Anuj Jain, Family Medicine at Woodridge Clinic, with offices in Woodridge, Lemont, and Lombard.  Everyone experiences stress, but using healthy coping skills can help people conquer and not cave in to their bouts of unease.

Before a dental procedure, after a car accident, or during a turbulent airline flight, people can feel signs of stress including anxiety, irritability, sadness, and anger.  Some stress is even helpful, as it propels people to develop skills for managing threatening situations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

 Jain says strong emotions are normal, including fear and depression, as long as they’re temporary and don’t interfere with daily activities.  Stress is harmful when it makes people feel overwhelmed and out of control for a prolonged time period.

How to cope? Jain recommends, “Exercise.  Working out for 45 minutes a day, for four to five times a week, improves blood flow, and helps the body secrete endorphins, which are the natural feel-good chemicals.  Avoid drugs and alcohol, which may supply a temporary fix that can develop into other problems, without addressing the main issue.”

He counsels patients to explore the root cause of their stress.  “I ask my patients to make a list to identify all the stressors in their life and find a solution, one by one, for each one.  If a patient is depressed, we screen them for serious problems, and may recommend a course of medicine and support.”

 Jain continues, “We urge stressed patients to take care of themselves by eating a healthful diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep.  Mini-vacations, massages, relaxing walks, or listening to soothing music may help.  And sometimes, an occasional piece of chocolate is fine, too.”