Sometimes it might feel like there is nothing you can do about stress between bills, work, relationships, and family responsibilities. With these ever-demanding stressors, it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. What you might not realize is, you have more control over your stress than might you think.
According to the American Psychological Association,
Most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting that their stress levels have increased over the past five years.
Stress is a reaction to a situation where someone feels threatened or anxious. It is normal to have stress in your life and one of the best things you can do is manage that stress. Living with high levels of stress puts your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional, mental and even physical health.
Stress affects your physical health by causing:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach and even stomach ulcers
- Sleep problems
- Changes in sex drive
Stress affects your mental health by causing:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Extreme sadness or depression
Stress affects your emotional health by causing:
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol misuse
- Overeating or under eating
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in normal behavior
How to Manage Stress
Stress management first starts with identifying the sources and causes of stress in your life. It might be easy to identify some stressors in your life such as moving, relationship changes, and changing jobs, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more difficult. Once you have accepted stress as being part of your life, it will become easier to manage. It is important to find active ways to manage your stress. Here are some different ways to deal with it:
- Exercise on a regular basis: When stress affects the brain, the rest of your body will feel it as well. Exercise, as well as other physical activity, produces endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers reducing stress.
- Get plenty of sleep: Sleep allows our brains and our bodies to recharge and rest.
- Use meditation to distress and center yourself: The purpose of meditation is to focus your mind and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that can be crowding your mind and causing stress. Spending even a few minutes can restore your peace and calm your mind.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol: Although you may think self-medicating will help your stress; it will actually create additional problems all the while increasing the stress you already feel.
- Create a balanced schedule: Try finding a balance between work, family life, social activities, daily responsibilities, and downtime. Too much of anything is a quick way to burn you out.
- Learn how to say no: It is important to know your limits and stick to them that way you aren’t taking on too much at one time. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts”.
- Reframe your mind to see problems in a different way: Try this by viewing stressful situation from a different perspective. Rather than getting upset about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and enjoy the time you have to regroup.
- Talk with others: Share your problems about what is stressing you out and how you are coping with a trusted companion, doctor, or counselor.
- Recognize when you need more help: If the problems continue or you are contemplating suicide, talk with a therapist or a professional counselor.
The good news is that you can help effective help in managing stress the right way through therapy and counseling.
Life can be challenging and we all need support from time to time. For mental health and support for managing stress you may not be able to handle on your own, therapy can be a great approach for you. Here at the Counseling Center for Growth and Recovery, we offer a solution-based approach where we can explore your challenges in life. Dealing with stress isn’t an easy thing. Luckily you do not have to face it alone. Now is the time to get the help you need. Let us help you do it!