|April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month since 1992.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we learn how to navigate stress and find healthy ways to cope with difficult situations. This goes a long way towards a healthy and positive life!
Everyone experiences stress, we all just experience it in different ways. Stress cannot be defined in one particular way as a result but, generally, stress is considered to be physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.
Stress is a reaction to a situation where one feels anxious or threatened.
Learning healthy coping skills and receiving proper care and support can reduce stressful feelings and symptoms.
A few common reactions to a stressful occurrence include:
- Disbelief, shock and/or numbness
- Feelings of sadness, frustration and helplessness
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Physical pain including headaches, back pain and stomach issues
While most stressful events are temporary, long-term stress can become more than just a mental issue. From general physical ailments to depression and even very serious outcomes such as stroke and heart disease.
When a stressful situation occurs, stress hormones flood your bloodstream and cause an increased heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. All of these are quite helpful in an emergency situation but having this “rush” for long periods of time or frequently is dangerous and makes you susceptible to more serious stress outcomes.
Overcoming issues we cannot change is key. When we don’t have the power to change the stress in our lives we should:
- Recognize that you don’t have control, and let things go.
- Avoid getting anxious about things you cannot change.
- Focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm.
- Have a plan for healthy living, wellness and personal growth.
- Set realistic goals and important boundaries to protect your peace.
A few ideas on how to cope with stress:
- Take care of yourself through proper nutrition, exercise and sleep habits.
- Take breaks from stressful situations as necessary.
- Share how you are feeling and coping with loved ones and professionals such as a coach or therapist.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol as they can increase stress.
- Recognize when you need more help and talk to a psychologist, counselor or coach.
Knowing how to talk about stress and activate necessary coping skills is key. This not only helps you but others who might come to you with their issues.
Article adapted from The American Institute of Stress