Special to Iredell Free News

Are you stressed? Most everyone will answer yes to that question at some point in their lives. In today’s fast-paced world, stress is a common challenge. Whether it’s work, personal life, or other daily demands, the pressure of life can take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing.

In observance of Stress Awareness Month, Malinda Sherrill, a family nurse practitioner at Family Care Center of Taylorsville, answers questions about stress and offers a few tips for coping with life’s many pressures.

Q: What is stress?
Malinda Sherrill, FNP-BC

Sherill: There are two categories of stress, eustress and distress. Distress is the type that has a negative effect on the body and is any situation or event that causes an emotional or physical change in the body. Most think of stress as worries and mental tension, which can cause anxiety, depression, fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sweaty palms, nausea, diarrhea, repetitive thoughts, and insomnia. Negative stress can affect our relationships with our family, friends, and co-workers.

Distress can be the result of the loss of a loved one, illness, separation, job changes, too many obligations, national disasters, war, or any event that brings an unexpected change to your normal routine or is perceived as negative or a threat. Each person has an individual response to stress and will respond based on their own coping mechanisms.

There is also eustress or good stress. This is a stress that causes a positive effect and is beneficial. Examples of eustress include a job promotion, anticipation of the birth of a child or grandchild, an upcoming wedding, a new job or any activity that gives you sense of fulfillment or worth. Stress can be acute, episodic, or chronic. We can control our response to stress by being prepared and developing good coping mechanisms. Start by being the best you can be mentally and physically. Develop healthy habits, including preventive visits with your healthcare provider.

Q: What are some tips for coping with stress?

Sherrill: Here are some things you can do on your own to improve your ability to deal with stress:

♦ Exercise. Exercise has been shown to improve your mental and physical health. Even 7 minutes a day can improve your health. Some ideas to start exercising:
• Create a step goal starting with 5,000 steps a day.
• Take the stairs when you can.
• Add a yoga routine to your day. There are several online yoga videos available for free.
• Get outside.
• Go for a walk with your dog.

♦ Take inventory. Figure out what is going on in your life that is making it feel hectic, and come up with a schedule. For example:

• Set a time each day to take a bite out of your weekly chores. Doing a little at a time will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
• It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to be on that committee, you can let someone else take the lead on that project.
• Know your people. It’s OK to ask for help when needed!
• Schedule a vacation, even if it is just a daytrip.

♦ Breathing exercises. These sound simple but are very effective. Breathing exercises decrease heart rate and blood pressure while allowing you to clear your mind to refocus and reset. There are many breathing apps you can download on your phone.

♦ Invest in you. Self-care is so important. Here are some ways to start taking better care of yourself:

• Get good sleep, and if you don’t feel rested after you sleep, make sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
• Get outside. Spending time outdoors can improve your overall health and wellness, promote mental health, and reduce stress.
• Eat healthily. Incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats into your diet. Avoid the “C.R.A.P.” This stands for carbonated drinks, refined sugars, artificial food, and processed foods.
• Hydrate. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. The goal is to consume half your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you are 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day. Your body will thank you for it!
• Relax by reading 15 minutes a day. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, reading can relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles.
• Ditch social media. Detoxing from social media can help reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with being constantly connected and comparing yourself to others.

Being your best you and in your best health is an excellent way to handle the stress that life throws at you. But know that sometimes, even the most prepared will have stress that can feel completely overwhelming. Make sure to check in with your primary care provider who can help you discover more ways to cope with life’s many challenges.


Sherrill practices at Family Care Center of Taylorsville, located at 1668 NC Hwy 16 South. If you would like to schedule your next appointment with Malinda Sherrill, FNP-BC, please call the office at 828-632-9736.

About Iredell Health System

Iredell Health System includes Iredell Memorial Hospital; Iredell Mooresville; two urgent care centers; Iredell Home Health; Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center; Community and Corporate Wellness; Occupational Medicine; the Iredell Physician Network and more. Iredell Memorial Hospital is the largest and only nonprofit hospital in Iredell County. The comprehensive healthcare facility has 247 beds; more than 1,800 employees; and has 260 physicians representing various specialties. Centers of excellence include Women’s and Children’s; Cardiovascular; Cancer; Surgical Services and Wellness & Prevention. The Health System’s second campus, Iredell Mooresville, is home to the area’s only 24-hour urgent care facility, as well as an ambulatory surgery center, imaging center, rehabilitation services, and physician practices. The mission of Iredell Health System is to inspire wellbeing. For a comprehensive list of services and programs, visit www.iredellhealth.org.