Dealing with mental stress is difficult for everyone, since its effects vary according to individual. Short bursts of tension may even prove beneficial; however, long-term stress is harmful and should be managed carefully.
When someone feels stressed, their brain sends signals that cause hormones to release into their system and trigger sweaty palms, rapid breathing and tightened muscles as their bodies prepare to fight or flee from danger.
Identifying the Causes
Stress is an integral part of everyday life and should help us cope with challenges we encounter on an everyday basis. But chronic (long-term) stress can cause physical symptoms and lead to unhealthy behavior patterns. Therefore it’s essential to know what causes your stress in order to effectively address it in an healthy manner.
Stress is inevitable in life, but prolonged or excessive levels can be harmful to both mental and physical health. Stressful situations can result in mental conditions like anxiety and depression as well as physical issues like high blood pressure, headaches and stomach upset.
Stressful events include work, finances, relationships and major life changes – known as stressors – which may both good and bad influences on you. To identify where it stems from, ask yourself what demands are being placed upon you and how you react. Next, group the potential stressors into those which you can address directly, those which resolve themselves naturally over time and those which cannot be changed directly – let go of things which you cannot control as these can often be the primary sources of tension.
Some individuals are predisposed to chronic stress because of genetics, personality or past experiences. If you have a family history of mood disorders or were involved in an traumatic event such as car accident, robbery or sexual assault you could develop posttraumatic stress disorder which can lead to other health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure or obesity.
If stress is negatively impacting your daily life, seek assistance from either a doctor or counselor who can offer advice, prescribe medication, refer you to therapy sessions that teach healthy ways of managing it or connect you to community organizations who can offer support services for depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. McLean offers reliable resources that promote the mental wellbeing of both individuals and communities.
Take steps to alter situations or behaviors that cause stress can help those with mental health conditions better cope. While stress is a normal part of life, prolonged and intense exposure can be harmful – interfering with sleep, increasing anxiety or leading to depression, leading to weight gain or loss and worsening existing mental health conditions. Furthermore, prolonged stress exposure may result in hormone imbalances weakening immune systems further and cause bodily damage that impacts on mental wellbeing.
Understanding acute and chronic stress is critical. Acute stress often arises after short-term events like an accident or argument with loved ones, but often responds well to deep breathing techniques and exercise. Conversely, chronic stress occurs when your brain is exposed to high levels of cortisol over a longer period of time; it can lead to poor concentration and memory performance as well as headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, stomach/digestive issues as well as changes in appetite/energy levels.
At the same time, it is also vitally important that you take good care of yourself by eating healthily and getting enough rest, exercising regularly, socializing with friends and family, and not using alcohol or drugs to manage stress; such methods could actually worsen matters. There are various support services available if you’re dealing with mental illness such as Every Mind Matters, Anxiety UK, Citizens Advice or StepChange that offer assistance or are just here if something’s amiss.
Relaxation techniques are a proven method for mitigating the harmful effects of stress on both your body and mind. By stimulating the natural relaxation response in your body, these relaxation strategies help slow breathing, heart rate and blood pressure – as well as lower your blood pressure. Health care providers or you yourself can learn these relaxation strategies; some examples include deep breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness of present moment awareness (focus on now), progressive muscle relaxation visualization yoga tai chi.
Stressful situations can leave us feeling anxious, overwhelmed and nervous; furthermore it can even result in physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressure and tightened muscles. In order to relieve these feelings of tension and anxiety, try practicing one or more relaxation techniques – these exercises help strengthen self-control, coping strategies and mood – particularly beneficial if chronic stress exists or an ongoing health condition causes you to be overwhelmed.
Try different relaxation techniques until you find one that works for you. Tai chi and yoga offer active forms of relaxation that combine rhythmic exercise with breath focus; these forms are suitable for people seeking physical activity in combination with mental relaxation. Other relaxation strategies, like guided imagery (which involves visualizing pleasant scenes in your mind) may be more sedentary; you may find free apps or recordings online to guide this process.
Reorganizing your workspace or home can also help you relax, as this will allow you to focus on what matters and reduce distractions. Take five-minute breaks alone just to sit quietly for five minutes and clear your mind of worries; or try progressive muscle relaxation – which involves tensing and relaxing different groups of muscles from toes up until neck and head!
Know when it’s time to seek professional assistance when mental stress strikes you or someone you care for. Step one is recognizing something seems off – such as extreme emotions or depression without apparent cause, worrying constantly or seeing/hearing things not there, difficulty thinking clearly etc – these may all indicate symptoms that call for medical intervention for mental health issues.
The next step should be consulting a health care provider about your situation, often this will be your primary care doctor or another healthcare professional who knows you and can make an assessment of your condition. If they suspect mental illness, they might refer you to see a psychiatrist for talk therapy and/or medicine; alternatively they could suggest lifestyle changes that will reduce symptoms such as exercising regularly; eating healthily; getting enough restful sleep; staying connected to family and friends and remaining social.
Some individuals with mental disorders find it hard to concentrate and perform effectively at their job, which may have serious repercussions for both themselves and those around them. If your work performance has declined as a result, it could be wise to consult a counselor or psychiatrist regarding this situation.
Signs that it may be time for professional help include being unable to get along with others and behaving erratically, feeling as if everything around you has changed, having suicidal thoughts or thinking you could take your own life. If these symptoms apply to you, call 911 immediately or the national suicide prevention hotline immediately for support.
If your friends or acquaintances are suffering from mental disorders, try gently encouraging them to seek assistance. They might feel embarrassed or reluctant but you can offer your support by listening carefully and offering advice only when appropriate. In addition, refer them to SAMHSA website with treatment locator feature to find resources in their locality.