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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Manage your stress effectively

Stress is an avoidable part of life. It may be due to personal relationships, the workplace, life changes, or financial pressures. Stress can be positive, as it may motivate us when we need to respond to danger or challenges. Repeated and prolonged exposure to stressful situations may take a toll on our physical and mental health. Understanding our stress responses and how stress affects us is the first step in learning how to cope with it.

What is stress?

  • Stress is a biological reaction to a perceived danger or threat
  • It is a combination of thoughts and feelings that arise when we are faced with challenges
  • Stress is unique to the individual; people respond and cope differently to stress

Signs & symptoms of stress may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Irritability or anger
  • Headache, backache, or chest pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety or depression

In the process of trying to cope with our stress, we may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as:

  • Increased substance use or “self-medicating” (ex. alcohol, cigarettes, drugs)
  • Unhealthy or excessive eating
  • Isolation — distancing from others
  • Acting out, anger toward others, or self-blame

Positive coping mechanisms
There are many tools and strategies we can use to help manage stress and reduce the impact it has on our lives and well-being.

  • Express your feelings to someone you trust
  • Be aware of your limits, set reasonable and realistic self-expectations
  • Learn to assert yourself and say “no”
  • Know that feelings are not fixed and will pass
  • Give yourself praise; recognize your strengths and achievements
  • Prioritize and organize tasks and responsibilities
  • Engage in relaxing/healthy activities: meditate, exercise, listen to music, socialize
  • Remember that some things are beyond our control; focus on what you can control
  • Turn to support systems and share your feelings

As part of your union benefits, the Personal Service Unit of the Health and Security Plan provides confidential counseling services at no cost to DC 37 members, dependents over the age of 18, and retirees. We are staffed by Licensed Professional Social Workers with certifications in the field of mental health and substance abuse. We provide short-term counseling treatment to help our clients process and cope more effectively with work stress, personal stress, and substance abuse.

To contact PSU for counseling, please call the Screening Unit Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 212.815.1260 or 212.815.1250.