Evan Stalnker

Dr. Evan Stalnaker is currently a second year Family Medicine Resident at the Washington Hospital.  He was born in Morgantown, West Virginia just 40 miles south of Washington.  He attended WVU for his undergraduate degree obtaining a BS in Immunology and Medical Microbiology.  He completed medical school at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington, WV.  When he is not studying, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and his 2 cats Millie and Oscar.  He also enjoys playing soccer and lifting weights.

Stress Awareness Month

April is stress awareness month.  Many factors can contribute to stress.  Family issues, work issues, work-life balance,  financial woes, healthcare deterioration, family’s health, insomnia, depression, and anxiety just to name a few.  In August 2022, 32% of Americans in the US adult population reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression.  Stress can exacerbate any of these feelings and can be the cause of them as well.  What can we do to help reduce our stress levels?

  1. Exercise: Not only does exercise increase your physical health, but also can significantly improve your mental wellbeing as well. There are recent studies that directly compared SSRIs, which are first-line treatment medications for those struggling with major depression disorder, with an exercise regimen, and both had the exact same efficacy with about a 43% response to achieving remission from major depressive disorder.  One does not need to run a marathon every day.  Do whatever physical activity that one enjoys!  Walk your dog, lift weights, cycle, swim, play basketball, compete in a pickleball league, go for a hike, join a yoga class, and a myriad of other possibilities.  Current recommendations say that 150 minutes of exercise per week is enough to improve physical health, mental wellbeing, and decrease overall cardiovascular risk factors such as stroke and heart disease. Lot of people say they do not have time to exercise, but 30 minutes of walking at your lunch break Monday through Friday would equate to 150 minutes per week. Have fun with it and be creative.
  1. Eat healthy: Eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products can increase your energy levels, help you reduce weight all of which will decrease overall stress levels. One should strive to minimize processed foods.  An easy way to buy less processed foods is to just shop along the edges of grocery stores as these are normally all the products that are more healthy options and not processed. Avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.
  1. Visit your PCP regularly. Everyone needs a checkup.  Your doctor or healthcare provider can help you determine the right diet, exercise plan, and overall health goal as you work together as a team. The Washington Health System has an amazing integrated team of multidisciplinary personnel who can help in many ways.
  1. Limit the amount of alcohol one consumes. Moderation is key. Moderation includes no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.  Not only will decreasing alcohol consumption help decrease stress but can help you lose weight as there are a lot of calories in alcoholic beverages.
  1. Get enough sleep. Everyone can work on their sleep hygiene.  Some basics to sleep hygiene include no caffeine beverages after 1 PM.  Do not eat 1 hour before bedtime.  Strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  Avoid watching TV or playing on your phone in the bedroom.  Play on your phone and watch TV in a different room prior to going to bed and that way your body learns that the bedroom is for sleeping.

It is very easy for someone to tell another person to “just reduce your stress levels”.  There are so many environmental factors, life situations, and just bad luck all contributing to one’s daily life.  Time for oneself is hard especially if you have a family and dependents who look up to you and need your care.  The purpose of the 5 options above is to incorporate them into your daily life as small increments because no matter how small these increments are, over time, they can add up significantly and help to reduce stress.