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Stress Awareness Month: 5 Healthy Coping Methods For Stressed Patients

Article written by A4M on April 8, 2022. Read the original article, here

April marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month. This national observance aims to raise public awareness of the far-reaching, systemic consequences of chronic stress on physical and mental health.

While stress is a natural part of life, chronic stress and severe stress levels can have significant adverse effects when not managed effectively. In individuals with pre-existing genetic vulnerabilities to mental illness, high stress levels can actually trigger mental illness. Severe stress can greatly worsen symptoms for those who already have mental illness, especially when combined with common unhealthy coping strategies such as substance abuse, social withdrawal, and overworking.

Learning and implementing healthful coping skills is essential for supporting patients’ whole-body health. To successfully help manage stress year-round, it is essential to educate patients about wellness-focused coping methods that not only mitigate stress levels but also promote improved health.

Healthy Tips To Help Patients Cope With Stress

1. Encourage Regular Physical Activity
As one of the most effective stress management techniques, exercise and regular physical activity help the mind and body release tension. Any form of physical activity can relieve stress, including low-impact exercises such as brisk walking and dance. Exercising releases endorphins that enhance mood and boost energy levels; there is also the added benefit of relieving built-up anxiety by burning off excess adrenaline and cortisol through physical activity.

Research reports that 30% of adults feel less stressed after exercising, highlighting the vital role of movement in healthful coping. Up to 62% of adults who exercise or walk to help manage stress report that the technique is very or extremely effective. Although, at the same time, 43% of those participants reported skipping exercise due to stress in the past month. By emphasizing the whole-body benefits of physical activity, healthcare providers can help patients implement and maintain an exercise routine tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

2. Emphasize the Need for Rest
An increasing number of studies suggest that rest and sleep are key factors in managing stress, and failing to get enough of either could harm patients. Sleep is critical to healthy, effective coping and restoring the body and mind after stressful events. At the same time, sleep deprivation is one of the most common physical signs of high stress. According to one survey, over 40% of Americans report stress has prevented them from sleeping, and similar research has shown an association between chronic insomnia and higher levels of stress hormones as well as cortisol reactivity over time.

Clinicians should encourage their patients to take brief rest periods during the day, vacations away from home and work, and prioritize getting a good night’s sleep – all of which will help manage stress levels and improve health outcomes overall.

3. Highlight the Importance of a Strong Support Network
Often overlooked but incredibly powerful as a stress management tool is the presence of a trusted network of friends, family, and healthcare providers. According to the American Psychological Association, a solid support network can significantly improve our ability to cope with stress. Results from a 2015 survey indicate that 43% of participants who did not receive emotional support experienced increases in overall stress, compared with only 26% of those who had a robust support system. Clinicians can recommend staying in close touch with family and friends, seeking out opportunities for social connection, and reaching for support from psychological professionals as essential methods for dealing with stress.

4. Prescribe Mindfulness to Patients to Reduce Stress and Optimize Health
Mindfulness practices reduce activity in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is central to switching on the stress response. When activity in the amygdala is reduced, so is the background level of stress. Even the Mayo clinic is now prescribing 15 minutes of mindfulness a day because it increases patience, promotes creative thinking, and manages symptoms of cancer, chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems, and tension headaches. It was found that meditation also decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, and can prevent many of the diseases listed above, which can be caused by stress. To easily recommend mindfulness to patients, clinicians can use ADigital Health’s 21 Days of Mindfulness digital care plan available on the platform. The 21 Days of Mindfulness plan includes 21 days of mindfulness practices, daily meditations, and a workbook.

5. Recommend Stress-Reducing Dietary Supplements, such as Ashwagandha and L-Theanine
With the economic crisis and global conflict currently upon us, it is not surprising that patients are likely at peak stress levels. Seventy-three percent of respondents to this year’s Stress in America survey reported feeling overwhelmed. It is something healthcare professionals can help with. There are many strategies currently available to help patients manage their stress levels, and one is dietary supplements. While a pill will not completely fix stress levels, certain supplements can help with symptoms. A4M’s remote patient care platform integrates Fullscript and Wellevate to help practitioners easily make supplement recommendations, such as Ashwagandha and L-Theanine, to patients right inside the ADigital Health account.

Please call the Burick Center to learn more about how we can help relieve stress and improve your mental, emotional, and physical well-being at 717-730-9000.

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Burick Center Staff MemberTracy Koval

Office Manager

Tracy joined the Burick Center for Health & Wellness in June of 2016 to help patients by managing various aspects of the office. Tracy brings more than three decades of medical office experience as the former office manager of a multi-specialty group and also works on a part-time basis as a Patient Service Rep at a local urgent care center.

Tracy’s favorite part of working in a medical practice is the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them navigate through the maze of health care. She loves being part of the dynamic team at the Burick Center.

Tracy likes to spend time with her family. She has two sons, Mason, who is living and working in Philadelphia as a Sr. Analyst for a marketing firm, and Spencer, who works at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

Burick Center Staff MemberTom Baker

Strategy Officer

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Burick Center Staff MemberRena Geesaman

Patient Coordinator

Rena Geesaman is a Registered Medical Assistant who enjoys providing attentive and caring client service. She is very happy to be part of the Burick Center team where patient care is our number one focus.

Her goal is to do everything within her power to ensure every interaction leaves you feeling well cared for and perhaps even delighted.

Rena volunteers by serving as board treasurer for Carlisle Christian Academy. She also helps facilitate a program at River of God Church for single, pregnant girls which provides practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Outside of the office Rena enjoys hiking, traveling, tending to her flower beds, hosting meals on their back deck, enjoying time with dear friends, loving on her little dogs, and best of all spending time with family. Being fairly new grandparents, she and her husband Don are always happy to share pictures of their little grandson, Lucas. Feel free to ask! She considers herself amazingly blessed!

Burick Center Staff MemberDr. Peter Lu

Acupuncturist

Dr. Peter Lu trained and worked in New York City for 15 years and recently moved to central PA. He studied pre-med at Brooklyn College and attended medical school at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. Thereafter he worked in the inner city hospitals of New York City, and lastly had the honor of caring for people with his sister in Stamford, Connecticut.

Dr. Lu greatly appreciates open lines of communication as it pertains to questions you may have about your ailment and how acupuncture could help in the healing process. His intention to address your needs to the best of his ability.

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Burick Center Staff MemberLee Morand

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Lee has had the sincere pleasure of working in the Greater Harrisburg area for over 20 years. She relocated to Harrisburg in 1990 after completing her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Pre-Med at Cornell University. Lee received her first Master’s Degree from Shippensburg University. Her second Master’s Degree, as well as Doctorate, were both from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She uses a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to guide her work with clients across the lifespan. She strongly believes research has shown that changing your thoughts does change your life. Her primary focus with clients is to reduce symptoms by assisting clients to achieve skills they can utilize in their professional, academic, and personal lives.

Burick Center Staff MemberHeather Motter

LMT, Massage Therapist and Back Desk Coordinator

Heather Motter joined the Burick Center team in 2018. A graduate of YTI Career Institute, Heather prides herself on using her highly developed skills to maintain the balance between mind and body. As a licensed massage therapist, she specializes in Medical Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, Trigger Point Therapy, and Oncology Massage.

Heather has a vast amount of experience working with a variety of patients. From a simple relaxation massage to a patient dealing with chronic pain, Heather is able to facilitate treatments uniquely designed for each patient’s individual needs.

Heather insists that massage is not just a relaxation luxury. Instead, her philosophy is that massage helps lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle. She encourages everyone to take the time to meet with her to develop a care plan to enhance their overall wellness.

Heather is a resident of Carlisle, where she resides with her fiancé, two sons, and four dogs. When she’s not at work, she can be found outside working on her back yard oasis, or volunteering at Speranza Animal Rescue.

Burick Center Staff MemberFelicia Miller

Nutritionist

Felicia Miller is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist who provides nutritional counseling and education to patients of the Burick Center for Health & Wellness.

She takes the science of nutrition with her extensive knowledge of food and coaching skills to create an easy-to-follow actionable plan for her clients to follow.

Recognizing that there are multiple components to creating a successful wellness plan, she looks at the whole person – their concerns, lifestyle, personality, family, and career. Listening to her patients allows for Felicia to find the root cause of their issue and not simply the symptoms.

“Being healthy goes beyond diet, food is just one of the pillars of a happy, healthy person.” Felicia goes beyond the traditional diet education- she coaches and supports her patients as they learn how to make changes in their day-to-day life.

“I’m passionate about whole foods and healthy living I strive to inspire you to make positive food and lifestyle changes – at any age.”

Burick Center Staff MemberAshley Weibley

Registered Nurse

Ashley is a nurse at Burick Center for Health & Wellness. Her nursing philosophy is one of holistic care. She is a patient advocate committed to clear communication, education and applying critical thinking and decision-making skills to help patients achieve better outcomes. She enjoys providing the highest quality nursing care in a respectful, healing environment. She has a personal commitment to life-long learning through formal education and hands-on experience. She appreciates that compassion along with innovative care is what the Burick Center for Health & Wellness is all about.

Ashley has an Associate’s Degree from Harrisburg Area Community College and a Bachelors Degree from Penn State University.

She is married and has twin boys, She enjoys spending time with her friends, family and pets. She has owned and shown Quarter Horses all of her life and continues to compete in her spare time.