A Stress Relief Guide for Your Mental Health

Stress is described as a physical response to upsetting or threatening events. When your body is confronted by such events, it will react with either a fight or flight response, which is also referred to as the stress response. Unfortunately for many people, stress is a major part of everyday life. Not all stress is bad, however, as it can actually motivate you and improve your performance in certain instances. It’s important to learn how to manage stress so that you can remain healthy both physically and mentally. This guide will discuss how to recognize stress, how it affects your health, and what you can do to keep it at a tolerable level.

As mentioned in the introduction, stress is a response to certain events that can be described as upsetting. An event or situation that causes stress is called a stressor. Stressors can be positive or negative. That is, they can arise out of a positive event in your life, or a negative one. Examples of positive stressors include getting promoted at work, getting married, or even buying a new house. These are all desirable events, but they are demanding and put an increased load on your life. Examples of negative stressors include a divorce, financial troubles, losing a loved one, or losing your job. Stress can also be categorized as coming from either internal or external causes. Internal causes of stress are self-generated. Having unrealistic expectations, being pessimistic, or having difficulty with uncertainty are examples of internal causes of stress. External causes of stress come from outside sources, such as work, family, or relationships.

Learning how to recognize stress is the first step to combat it. There are several stress warning signs and symptoms that stretch the spectrum from cognitive and emotional to physical and behavioral. These signs and symptoms can be direct results of stress that is occurring in your life. Anxiety, negative thoughts, excessive worry, lack of concentration, and poor memory and judgment are cognitive stress symptoms. Some emotional symptoms of stress include depression, feelings of agitation or irritability, loneliness, and moodiness.

While stress certainly affects our minds, its effects can be felt physically as well. Physical symptoms of stress include an increased heartbeat, constipation, diarrhea, reduced sex drive, aches and pains, and a frequent occurrence of colds. Stress often brings about changes in behavior too. Behavioral symptoms of stress include an increase or decrease in eating and sleeping patterns, procrastination, isolation, nail biting, or the use of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes as coping mechanisms. All of these symptoms can obviously come as a result of other issues, but they are commonly associated with stress. If you notice that multiple symptoms are beginning to appear, you may be nearing the point of stress overload. Chronic stress experienced over long periods of time can cause many undesirable effects that can pose serious threats to your health. Effects of chronic stress include increased vulnerability to anxiety and depression, migraines, ulcers, infertility, high blood pressure, and a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

The negative effects of stress are quite serious, so learning how to cope with stress is extremely important. The first tip to help you manage stress is to simply accept the fact that there will be events in your life that you have no control over. Everyone experiences ups and downs, so do not get overly angry or frustrated when an unfortunate event arises. Even if something bad happens, maintaining a positive attitude instead of a negative one will keep your outlook positive. This will give you a clear mind and allow you to properly tackle the problem instead of obsessing over how bad it is. Try speaking to yourself with positive messages such as “I will conquer this” to give you the motivation to take the next step forward. If you experience stress while driving, pull over to calm down. The same holds true for any arguments. Remove yourself from the situation so that you can stay calm and not increase your stress in the process. Do not procrastinate. Make sure you have plenty of time to complete projects or arrive to places punctually to avoid stress.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also pay huge dividends when it comes to dealing with stress. Eat meals that are healthy and balanced to keep your mind and body in shape. Exercise daily to relieve stress and take your mind off of work, school, or other things that may cause stress. Practicing yoga or meditation is a great way to unwind and eliminate stress. Take up a hobby or sport to keep yourself occupied, or join a social group to gain support from others. You should also avoid alcohol, drugs, and other harmful products. By actively recognizing stress and practicing all of these tips on how to manage it, you will see that you will be able to cope much better with difficult situations. You won’t be the only one to reap the rewards of proper stress management, however, as those around you will notice the difference as well.