Understanding and Managing Stress
Stress is something that none of us are immune to. Stress is how our body reacts to pressures from situations we encounter. While day-to-day stress can be considered “normal”. Persistent, overbearing stress can negatively impact all aspects of your wellbeing, especially your physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional health. Our bodies were designed to be able to endure slight amounts of stress. However, Long-term and chronic stress is something we just weren’t equipped for. So, with all the being said, what is it we can do to manage uncontrollable stress?
The first step for stress management is gaining self-awareness. Always remember, a stressor that gets you, may not be a stressor for someone else. Everyone’s body reacts differently to stimuli, and just like differing stressors, there’s also differing ways people cope with their stresses. In order to manage stress, you must be able to recognize when you are experiencing stress. A simple solution? Not at all. It is fairly common for people to be so used to being in a "stressed out" state that it can be difficult to realize you feel more stressed than normal until you’re at the brink of a more serious mental health crisis.
The following symptoms can act as a tool guide in helping recognize that your body may be stressed. Emotional symptoms can include: hopelessness, mood swings, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, and depression. Physical symptoms can include: headaches, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, muscle aches and tension, digestive problems, high blood pressure and racing heart. These symptoms are similar to many medical and mental conditions, and stress is directly proportional to many disorders. Meaning that if you have increased stress, you’re at an increased likelihood to experience symptoms of that medical condition. Are any of these symptoms ringing any bells? If you’re experiencing several of these following stressful events in life it may be time to alleviate that stress.
Having too much stress can result in stress overload. Signs you’re experiencing stress overload includes: panic attacks, worrying all the time, feeling you’re under constant pressure, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as a means to feel relief, over or under-eating, and social withdrawal.
Below are some ideas for how to better manage your stress:
o Write out what’s on your mind. Or if you have a long list of responsibilities; create a to-do list
2. Get active
o You don’t have to go pro, start small. Take a short walk to try and clear your mind and regroup
3. Eat a healthy meal
o Make sure you’re acquiring the proper nutrition needed for body functioning. Eat something you enjoy in moderation. Drink lots of water
4. Practice meditation
o Work at breathing techniques. Attempt to quiet the mind; this is not an easy skill to gain, don’t get frustrated it’s a work in progress. Bring yourself into the present moment and try not to think too far ahead. Try a new yoga pose.
5. Engage in laughter
o Reminisce on a funny time in your life. Take a few minutes to watch funny videos on YouTube. Look up a joke of the day.
6. Let your brain rest
o Get a good night's sleep. If you’re exhausted mid-day don’t feel any shame in taking a cat nap, or just lying down and resting your eyes.
7. Be assertive
o Have positive self-talk, and the mindset that “you can do this”. Set small and realistic goals, and be confident in your abilities to accomplish them. Don’t let yourself procrastinate.
8. Connect with close ones or pets
o Socialize or dedicate sometime to be around those who can bring you happiness and help soothe you.
9. Art forms
o Focus your mind on crafts and arts you enjoy. This could be music, dancing, cooking, or drawing.
10. Change your environment
o Temporarily put yourself in a space that is more relaxed. Or change your current space to be more suitable for calming; dim the lights or light a candle
11. Seek help
o If you’re struggling to self-cope with stress on your own, it may be time to speak with your medical doctor and get support from a professional
Do you have any additional tips for others that you utilize to relieve yourself from stress?
Thanks for reading!
Kwawu, H. (2019). Feeling Stressed Out? Here are 9 Tips for Stress Relief. Crisis Text Line. Retrieved from https://www.crisistextline.org/mental-health/feeling-stressed-out-here-are-9-tips-for-stress-relief/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA-rj9BRCAARIsANB_4ACpgGfzkaR6GsnqA7jHyjer09bADm-8QZ4OxTzq1Ijycgn4tcoj0RsaAlC1EALw_wcB
WebMD. (2020). Stress Management. WebMD LLC. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2