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Stressful life events prompt strong responses, to disrupt affected person's emotional health

USU Extension writer

People who are emotionally healthy are generally aware of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

Emotionally healthy individuals have learned the skills to cope with stress and problems that are a normal part of life, pointed out Naomi Weeks, Utah State University Extension agent.

However, many life events can disrupt emotional health and lead to feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety in the affected person. Both good and bad events can prompt strong emotional responses.

Examples include getting married or divorced, suffering from an injury or illness, having a child leave or return home, having a baby, changes in employment, financial difficulties and moving.

People's bodies tend to respond to the way they think, feel and act.

The interaction is referred to as the "mind-body connection," explained Weeks.

When people are stressed, anxious or upset, their bodies frequently display physical symptom to get attention.

The symptoms may include headaches, stomach aches, sudden weight gains or losses, trouble sleeping or extreme tiredness.

When people do not feel well emotionally, they tend to be less likely to exercise, eat nutritious foods or maintain healthy habits, explained Weeks.

Neglecting healthy lifestyle behaviors may lead to a decrease in the body's immune system, which can cause colds or infections.

It is important for people to recognize their emotions and understand why they are experiencing them.

Sorting out the root of negative feelings can help people know what to do to improve their situations and manage their emotional health, indicated the USU Extension agent.

Weeks recommends that Carbon County residents consider several techniques to improve their emotional well-being. She encourages people to:

• Express feelings in appropriate ways.

If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping the feelings inside can make people feel worse.

It's important for people to let others know when something is bothering them.

However, local residents should realize that family members and friends may not be able to help them work through everything they are experiencing, continued Weeks.

Therefore, it may become necessary for the individuals to seek advice and support from a counselor or religious leader.

•Take care of themselves.

It is important for people to take care of their bodies by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension.

People should avoid overeating, using alcohol or drugs, or any other behaviors that assist in "running away," advised Weeks.

Running away behaviors could cause additional problems or possible addiction.

•Calm their bodies and minds.

Local residents should find activities that help them relax such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a bath or walking in nature.

Relaxing behaviors can help people find a healthy release and bring emotions into balance.

•Implement balanced lifestyles.

It is important for people to deal with negative feelings rather than just "stuffing them in," noted Weeks.

But it is also important to focus on the positive things in life and make time for what people enjoy.

Local residents may want to consider keeping journals of things they are grateful for or help them feel peaceful or happy.

People may also need to find a way to get rid of things in their lives that make them feel stressed and overwhelmed, concluded Weeks.

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