Tackle Stress Head On

The American Institute of Stress estimates that up to 90% of all doctor visits are stress related, and that the vast majority of stress is work related. With numbers like that, it makes sense for employers to provide stress-relief programs and benefits.

The Affordable Care Act requires employer-provided health plans include at least minimal coverage for mental health screenings and substance abuse services. The benefits provided can vary widely according to the employer’s selected plan. Many plans cover stress-related illnesses – such as migraines, chest pain, and stomach issues – as regular health issues, but your healthcare provider might not realize these conditions are stress-related unless you tell him or her.

If you’re seeking help for stress-related illnesses, start by checking with your plan providers and HR team to learn what coverage is available. It’s also helpful to try to do all you can to reduce stress. Here are some ways experts suggest to help manage stress:

Tap your resources. If your health benefits include an Employee Assistance Program, use it. If you can take time off, do it. If your plan includes discounts for services such as massage or fitness facilities, use them.

Understand your triggers. Pay attention to specific situations that increase your stress. If these situations are unavoidable, go into them mindful of your stress level and consciously work to keep your stress down.

Avoid unnecessary stress. Leave work a little later if it will allow you to avoid stressful traffic, for example. Have paychecks direct deposited to alleviate rushing to the bank every week.
Give yourself a break. Avoid negative self-talk and don’t beat yourself up for small mistakes.

Live in the moment. Don’t get wrapped up in hypothetical worst-case scenarios.

Get moving. Exercise reduces and prevents stress.

Get quiet. Meditation might sound intimidating, but it calms the mind. There are many apps that can help you get started.

Be proactive. Don’t wait until stress hits to try to relax. Employ your stress-reduction techniques before stress strikes.