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Supporter Article: Stay Healthy - Stress Less!

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Para ver en español, haga clic aquí. Upang tingnan sa tagalog, mag-click dito.

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.

- Author Unknown

Learn About Stress

Find Causes of Stress

Ways to Manage Stress

Supporter Stress

Take Time to Deep Breathe

Learn About Stress

Do you see people you support feeling frustrated and angry? Having trouble sleeping? Eating too much – or too little?  Being tense and anxious? Having unexplained aches and pains? These are all possible signs of stress.

Everyone experiences stress in life. Some stress is okay, even helpful. Constant stress can cause serious health problems.

Learn about and use different ways to manage stress. By doing so you can help yourself and others have a happier, healthier mind and body.







Find Causes of Stress

To help, find out how and when someone feels stress. First, look for signs of stress. People often look worried, uneasy, afraid, irritated, upset or angry.

Next, talk to them about what made them feel that way. Help them to become aware of the cause of their stress. There are many possible causes. Here are only a few.

  • Fighting with family, friends, or people with whom they work or live.
  • Problems with money.
  • Being bullied - feeling like they are being picked on.
  • Having too much to do. Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Being in a crowded place.
  • Moving from place to place.
  • Suffering from a loss, someone close to them, or perhaps a pet.

Having trouble figuring out the cause? Help the person keep a daily log for a couple of weeks. Write down what people, places or activities caused them stress. Record what happened and how it made them feel. 

Supporter Stress 

Supporters – both family members and direct support professionals - are at high risk. Stress affects a person’s ability to concentrate, causes sleeplessness, and increases the risk for back problems and accidents. 

Don’t ignore stress. Do something about it.








Ways to Manage Stress

There are many ways to lessen or get rid of stress. Knowing the cause will help you lessen it. Work together to make a plan.

  • Do fun things. Just as there are things that cause stress, there are also lots of things that make a person feel good. Take time every day to do something fun. Help the person you support make a list of things that make them feel good. Here are some ideas.
  • Think positive thoughts.  When people worry they often imagine the worst. Help the person learn how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Think “I can do it!” instead of “I cannot”. Thinking about times when the person felt calm will also help.
  • Help the person change their reaction to things that cause stress. Encourage them to take a break. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Make them aware that getting angry will only add to their stress. Help them find other ways to help ease their frustration.
  • Change what is causing the stress. If it is a problem with money, help the person make a budget. If the person if being bullied, talk to them about what they can do to stay safe. Check out the 2015 Summer Newsletter for even more tips!
    • Take a walk.
    • Ride a bike.
    • Play games.
    • Have a hot drink.
    • Pet their cat or dog.
    • Paint a picture.
    • Listen to soothing music.
    • Take a long bath.
    • Go to the park.  



  • Laugh out loud.  Laughter is good medicine. Laughing feels good. A good laugh can go a long way toward easing stress. When feeling stress, help the person:
    • Look for humor in things.
    • Think of something funny that happened.
    • Laugh instead of frown.
  • Find ways to relax.  Yoga, deep breathing, or meditation, help clear the mind of thoughts that cause stress.  Even a few minutes a day can help a person feel better. Learn these techniques and teach them to others. Or, you can help a person join a class where they can learn way to relax.
  • Most important, talk to a friend. We all feel better when we have someone we trust to talk to. Sharing thoughts and feelings builds trust and friendship. Provide support to build a strong network of family and friends.
  • Get Daily Exercise. Feelings of stress often include backaches- especially the lower back - and general aches and pains. People with a lot of stress are more likely to have accidents. Moving the body helps ease tight muscles and protect  a person from injury. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. Click here for more tips on getting active!
  • Eat Right. Pay attention to what you eat. Avoid eating too much too quickly. Eat healthy foods. Do not eat a lot of fast food. Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks. People often overeat when they are stressed. Overeating will only make things worse. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can help your body fight stress. Click here for more tips on eating right!
  • Drink Less Caffeine. The caffeine in coffee helps some people wake up and feel better. If you feel jittery or have trouble sleeping, you may be drinking too much. Remember that soft drinks and chocolate also have caffeine.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs do not help get rid of stress. In fact, they add to it and can cause health problems.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Stress may cause trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Lack of sleep can be unhealthy in many ways. Most adults do best with 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Having “enough” sleep is waking up – ready to start the day. Here are some things to do to get a good night’s sleep. 

✓ Go to bed and get up at a regular time.

✓ Make the bedroom sleep friendly – cool (but not cold), dark, and quiet.

✓ Have a comfortable mattress and pillow.

✓ Don’t eat a large meal two to three hours before bedtime.

✓ Get regular exercise.

✓ Avoid or cut down on caffeine – especially in late afternoon and evening.

✓ Limit alcohol. Don’t smoke.

✓ Keep naps to 30 minutes or less.

✓ Relax before bedtime – this is a good time for meditation.

✓ If you can’t sleep, get up. Do something relaxing until falling sleepy.

For more on getting a good night’s sleep visit:

There are other health problems that may cause lack of sleep. If after taking these steps the person still can’t get a good night’s sleep, it may be time for them to talk to their doctor to get some additional help.







Time to Take a Deep Breath

Let’s practice deep breathing! Do this with a person you support. Take deep breaths like this:

  • Get comfortable.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose.
  • Feel your belly fill with air.
  • Now breathe out slowly.
  • As you breathe out imagine all your stress going away.
  • Let your body relax.
  • Now do it again.
  • Keep doing it until you feel calm.

So how did that feel? Whenever you feel stressed, try it! Help those you support to try deep breathing as a way to feel less stress.

Try different relaxation exercises and find out what works best. Learning and practicing ways to manage stress will improve everyone’s health and happiness.



Use the “How Stressed Are You?” test and Finding the Causes of Stress to start a conversation with the person you support.

Watch and discuss information about stress in SafetyNet videos: 

     1. Stress Less - Stay Healthy Video

     2. Stress Less - Take a Breath Video

Go over Tip Sheet #2 and Tip Sheet #3 to get more ideas about what you and the people you support can do to stress less.

Have some fun! Look at HAPPY World Down Syndrome Day, HAPPY DAY Pharrell Williams:

Learn More about Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief: Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You

Last updated on Fri, 06/19/2015 - 15:17