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STRESSED? MAY'S MENTAL HEALTH MONTH FIGHT CHRONIC PROBLEMS WITH RIGHT FOOD, ACTIVITY.

Byline: Daily News

LANCASTER -- If you're constantly fatigued, experience frequent headaches and backaches, suffer from lack of sleep and feel agitated, you could be dealing with chronic stress -- and if you work full time in a demanding or faraway job, the job itself could be the source.

During May, the National Mental Health Association and the mental health unit at Antelope Valley Hospital are encouraging local residents to recognize and manage job-related stress.

According to the NMHA, chronic job-related stress is rampant. In addition, study after study has confirmed that high stress levels due to adverse workplace conditions or traveling far to work are affecting our well-being. The problem is especially prevalent in the Antelope Valley.

``Job stress certainly contributes to adverse health here in our community,'' said Vikki Haley, the hospital's director of mental health services. ``We have become a bedroom community where people travel as much as 150 miles to get to their jobs and back, placing them on the freeway two to four hours a day.''

``This leaves little time for recreational activities, which has led to increases in obesity and related conditions like hypertension and diabetes,'' she said. ``And of course, the stress of a commute or difficult job can also lead to psychiatric conditions such as depression.''

The NMHA offers several tips for dealing with chronic job stress, including:

Eating right and exercising

Setting realistic goals

Taking one task at a time

Taking short breaks during the day

Taking time to relax or meditate

Avoiding perfectionism

Learning to say ``no'' to unreasonable workloads

Managing your anger

Talking about stressful situations with a loved one

Haley points out that there are several resources in the community to help people learn to better cope with chronic stress, including outpatient mental health clinics, private therapists and Los Angeles County's mental health clinic.

In addition, many larger employers offer an employee assistance program for stress and other mental health-related issues.

For a referral to any of these resources, call the AVH mental health unit at (661) 949-5250. For additional tips for stress management, visit the NMHA Web site at www.nmha.org.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 29, 2006
Words:353
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