So How Do I Manage Stress?
One unique aspect of stress is that there are lots of ways to treat it. While understanding the causes and effects of your stress is a good start, you also need to consider some changes you can make to reduce stress levels.
While stress has the potential to lead to serious physical and mental health issues, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to effectively manage it. Like other activities, stress management will take some practice, and in some cases working with a mental health professional can increase long-term success.
Tackling stress can seem like an anxiety-inducing task itself, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. By taking proactive steps to keep it under control, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of stress impacting your mental health over your lifetime.
Here are some ways to make managing stressors feel less overwhelming.
1. Ready? Set? Go!
Perhaps the best thing you can do to fight stress is to make sure you’re getting plenty of exercise.
Every time you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which react with your brain to reduce your perception of pain. On top of that, endorphins create a positive feeling in your body, which can help combat stress.
Even a few hours of exercise each week can make a big difference when it comes to stress.
2. You Are What You Eat
What you put in your body affects the way you feel physically and emotionally.
If you start each morning with a cup of coffee or two and find that you’re feeling anxious or agitated, try switching over to tea, lower-caffeine coffee, or water, and see if that helps. While caffeine is great for energy, too much of it can lead to amplified feelings of stress and anxiety.
3. Solving Problems
Stress is often caused by a problem in your life. If you’re having money problems or your job is in jeopardy, it should come as no surprise that you’re also stressed out. Sometimes, dealing with stress is as simple as focusing on solving the problem that’s causing it.
If you require the assistance of others to solve your problem, do not be afraid to reach out. Ask for help and gently explain how stressful the situation has been. You may be surprised how often people are happy to help.
We all need varying levels of social interaction, even if you feel like you may not need as much of it as others do. If you’re not spending time with others as a result of stress, try hanging out with friends and family and see if that helps.
Socializing with loved ones can go a long way toward creating a positive feeling in the body and mind and taking your mind off your stressors.
Dealing with stress isn’t easy, but educating yourself about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help. The most important thing is identifying what causes your stress and trying to avoid—or cope with—those triggers.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for mental health, and stress reduction methods vary depending on what works for you.
By identifying your stressors and working with your care team, you can learn what type of treatments work for your stress and learn ways to overcome your stress responses when you’re faced with a stressful situation.
How Do I Ensure That Stress Is the Real Problem?
Compared to the flu or an infection, stress is harder to pin down. There are a couple of different methods used to diagnose stress.
Questionnaires are commonly used to diagnose stress because they take your feelings into account. By answering questions about how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life, you can help a medical expert decide whether or not you’re experiencing psychological stress.
Biochemical measures are a more concrete way to diagnose stress. Biochemical measurement involves measuring levels of certain compounds in your blood to determine stress levels. This is a reliable method for diagnosing stress because it measures levels in your body instead of relying on your answers to questions.
Physiological measurements—like your pulse—are another good way to spot changes in the body that are a result of stress. When you’re stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure usually increase, which means measuring numbers like that is a good way to tell if you’re stressed.
Find the Help You Need
If you’re diagnosed with stress, don’t fret—there is hope for people dealing with both acute and chronic stress. There are many things you can do to avoid stressful situations and manage the stress you’re already dealing with.
The first step is figuring out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. Even if you can’t avoid or address your triggers, understanding them so you can proactively deal with stress is important.
If you are having trouble managing stress and its mental and physical effects, you may need help from a health care professional. You don’t need to struggle on your own. Call your primary care physician or a local mental health facility, like McLean, to find the care you need.
If you or a loved one, needs help to manage your mental health, McLean is here to help. Call us today at 617.855.3141 to talk about treatment options.
Want More Info?
Looking for even more information about stress? You may find these resources helpful.
Interesting Articles and Videos
These organizations may also have useful information:
American Institute of Stress
This organization works to improve health through stress management via education, research, clinical care, and workplace practices. The American Institute of Stress provides education for medical practitioners, scientists, health care professionals, and the public. They also conduct research and offer information, training, and techniques to prevent illness related to stress.
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Dedicated to sharing information about the effects of trauma and the discovery and dissemination of knowledge about policy, program, and service initiatives that seek to reduce traumatic stressors and their immediate and long-term consequences. Providing access to education and research, meetings and events, as well as tools for treating trauma and public resources.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
NCTSN brings a singular and comprehensive focus to childhood trauma. A collaboration of frontline providers, researchers, and families committed to raising the standard of care while increasing access to services.