by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
Cold and flu season—it’s here! As I write this, I am keenly aware of the scratch in my throat, wondering if I am going to come down with the same cold that each of my children has had over the past week or so. It is making the rounds in our home and I hope that it will pass over me!
I was listening to a radio program this morning that was discussing the cold and flu season that has descended up us, talking about ways to prevent the catch of these viruses. The two main areas that this program highlighted were adequate sleep and stress management. With these two building blocks of health in place, warding off colds is more likely. The standard sleep recommendation is over seven hours a night…I wonder how many of you can say that this need is being met for you?
And stress management—who knew that this has such an influence on our physical health—not just impacting heart attacks and chronic diseases, but little viruses like seasonal colds? If you think that you could build some skills in managing the stress of your life, believe me, you are not alone. Here are some tips on keeping stress in check:
- Pick your calming activity—take a good look at yourself and determine what makes you feel calm and collected (deep breathing, reading, journaling, etc) and make sure to practice this activity routinely. If self care is not a part of daily life for you, it needs to be to ensure that you can meet the needs of those around you.
- Be aware of what you are expecting from yourself, and if it is realistic. None of us are superhuman, but it consistently surprises me how much people expect from themselves. Examine what your day holds and if you are pushing it to the point of becoming frustrated and resentful. This likely signals that you have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
- Recognize that asking for help does not mean that you are weak. There are many of us that walk around with this belief…and then we end up stressed out and burned out. Drawing on your support system, delegating tasks if you can, and knowing who you can trust to vent to once in a while is another way of keeping stress in check.