Stress and how to manage it

We have all had times in our lives when we feel stressed out. This stress if it goes on long enough can lead to a lack of motivation, worsening health, and make it hard to have a positive outlook. Life can often feel like a roller coaster of stress, and it keeps going. Stress is something we will always have at some level, and it is important to know how to manage stress.

The best way to start with managing stress is to know what stress is. Stress is the bodily response to physical, mental, or emotional pressure. Stress causes the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. They can also have a significant impact on a person’s emotional state.

Stress is not always negative though. Doing something that is challenging, but wanted can cause positive stress, also known as eustress. Eustress is moderate or normal stress that comes from parts of life that a person wants. This might be getting married, starting a better job, or pushing yourself physically in a sport. This type of stress is beneficial mentally and physically. This type of stress pushes us to keep going, to learn more, and to do more.

There is another type of stress called distress. This is what most people mean when they say they are stressed out. This stress wears you out, makes you feel overwhelmed or jittery. It can be harmful to your overall health. This type of stress, if unmanaged, over time has been linked to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. It can also make other health problems worse.

Stressors are different for different people, but some life events that can cause this type of stress include:

  • unmanaged health conditions
  • financial problems
  • loss or perceived loss
  • family or relationship problems
  • bad work environments
  • grief
  • moving
  • job Loss
  • divorce
This type of stress needs to be managed to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

A good place to start when trying to manage stress is to make sure you are resting regularly. It can be hard to know what counts as resting, because there are different types of rest. Rest should make you feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and refocused. Finding what makes you feel rested and then doing it regularly is essential to stress management. Some ways that might make you feel rested are taking a nap, spending time in nature, spending time alone, spending time with friends, watching a funny movie, taking a hot bath, yoga, deep breathing exercises, going for a walk. The type of rest you need depends on what the cause of the stress is. Finding what makes you feel rested and making time for it is important.

Besides resting regularly, here are some things you can do to manage stress. 

Reduce unnecessary stress, where you can. Cut back on what is already causing you stress or at the very least take on less new stress. You can do this by setting healthy boundaries with the people and commitments in your life. Learn to say no when the amount of stress is too much.

Get enough sleep. Getting enough good quality sleep is important not just for stress management, but overall health. Sleep is a way to reset and let your mind and body rest completely. Lack of sleep can make dealing with stressful situations harder and lead to poor decision making (which can lead to more stress).

Eat healthily and regularly. People tend to overeat or undereat when they are stressed. This can make the effects of stress worse. Avoid caffeine and eat a balanced diet. Instead of only eating junk food or stressing out about only eating healthy food, focus on nourishing foods that make you feel good both mentally and physically.

Exercise. Exercise is beneficial to stress reduction and prevention. Finding ways to be active is beneficial because of the endorphins released during exercise. These endorphins boost your mood, help reduce pain, and reduce overall stress levels. You can start small by going for a walk or a bike ride.

Get support from others. Keeping what is causing your stress or how the stress makes you feel to yourself can make it more difficult to cope with than if you share with a trusted person. This could be with a friend or a family member or a counselor.

Focus on the positives. This might sound hard to do or even condescending, but when life gets stressful focusing on the positives, as small or hard to find as they might be, can help with the feelings of stress. Even trying to find a couple of things a day that are positive or at least not stressful can help change your perspective a bit. It won’t make the stress go away, but finding the positives can give you a mood boost and make it easier to manage.

Accept and assess what you can control and what you cannot. Focus your energy on things you can control, like your actions, reactions, and behaviors. Try not to spend too much time (as hard as it is) stressing about things you cannot control, like other people’s behaviors.

Experiencing this type of stress unmanaged for too long is called chronic stress. Some signs that you are experiencing chronic stress include frequent headaches, irritability, high blood pressure, weight problems, “fuzzy thinking,” agitation, depression, anxiety, anxiety attacks, and the worsening of existing health problems. The severity of symptoms can range from minor to severe, but reducing stress levels can help both with the mental and physical symptoms caused by chronic stress.

If you are dealing with chronic stress you need to manage the existing stress or reduce the stress so that it is at a manageable level. This can be challenging if you’re already at the point of exhaustion and overwhelmed. Speaking to a counselor might be beneficial if you are chronically stressed and not sure what to do.

Author: Kellen Olivia Kiisler

If you have questions or want to talk to someone about stress management, please reach out to us!

Social skills and learning from supercommunicators

Add a comment

Email again: