Stress: Identifying Causes and How to Cope
The demands we place on ourselves everyday can quickly become overwhelming, even if many of them are enjoyable. Perhaps you are being pulled in multiple directions at work, constantly fighting with a broken appliance at home, and having to get your kids to school and their extracurricular activities on time (and with all of their supplies and equipment). Even with a timed system in place, stress easily finds a way in.
Stress is the body’s natural response to a sudden need to adapt, cope or adjust to situations. Almost anything in life can be a cause for stress, from money and relationships, to personal safety and perceived discrimination. Everyone experiences stress at some point, but consistent and chronic stress in a person’s life can lead to other health issues. Being stressed causes you to feel tired, have difficulty concentrating, be irritable and even have a poor appetite. Unfortunately, these factors often lead individuals to cope using unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, and over or under eating.
While encountering stress is virtually impossible to avoid, there are, thankfully, healthy ways to deal with it and keep it from causing more physical and psychological issues.
- Know what stresses you out. Thinking about what weighs on you the most will allow you to understand your personal stress and avoid if possible, or better prepare yourself beforehand. Your stress will not be the same as someone else’s, and the way you decide to handle it will differ, as well.
- Use healthy habits to cope. There are great ways to deal with stress when you feel it hitting. Take a few minutes to do some deep breathing exercises, workout or play a sport you enjoy, listen to calming music, talk or write it out, or spend time with people who are positive and supportive. If you feel like you’ve taken on too much, step back and evaluate all of your tasks. Is there anything you can push back or remove from your to-do list completely? If others rely on you to get things done, like your children, perhaps take some time to have a family meeting and discuss how you can all help one another out and, if necessary, pare down the list of extra activities to only what they truly enjoy.
- Don’t forget about yourself. All too often, it becomes easy to ensure everyone else’s happiness and forget about our own. It is important to take some time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing like going to the spa, or taking an expensive trip, but may be as simple as reading a book, or taking a walk outside. Does your workplace provide you with vacation days? Use them and take a day for yourself and the activities you enjoy.
- Ask for support. Others may not recognize that you are stressed, so reach out and talk with friends and family. Bottling up feelings simply amplifies stress, so discussing it with others helps take some of that weight off your shoulders. They can either help provide you with an outside perspective, or just be a necessary listener. Sometimes, the stress can become too much and coping mechanisms don’t seem to work. If that is the case, reach out to a psychologist who can help in a more in-depth way.
Life presents us with unavoidable and often unpredictable stressors, but it is important to not allow these events to hurt our outlook, relationships, and overall health. Finding healthy coping mechanisms is the key to overcoming stress and moving forward towards accomplishing goals.
If you are experiencing overwhelming stress and feel it is impacting your life and health, visit us today.