From meeting deadlines at work to worrying about your loved ones, stress is an inevitable part of everyday life. But how do you know how much stress is too much? Mental and behavioral health experts have found that some stress might actually be a good thing. However, it’s important to separate positive from negative stress.
How to Identify and Manage Stress
When you’re facing a particularly stressful situation, you’ll notice that your heart rate speeds up, your palms start to sweat, and you start breathing more quickly. Stress is the body’s way of responding to threats, and all of these physical symptoms are part of an instinctual “fight or flight” response.
This natural response to a perceived threat can provide a sudden boost of energy. And this boost can actually be beneficial in small doses. Moments of stress can provide motivation and a sense of urgency, which can be helpful when you need to meet a deadline or accomplish a task. Occasional stress may also help you become more equipped to handle stress in general.
However, it’s important to note that the body isn’t equipped to handle frequent and long-term stress. Too much stress can cause mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms. While the effects of “bad stress” vary, many people will experience headaches, gastrointestinal issues, frequent colds, insomnia, muscle tension, and general nervousness. Long-term stress may also lead to feelings of agitation, frustration, and become overwhelming.
It can be difficult to separate good and bad stress, so remember that individual therapy can be one of your best resources for doing so. A therapist can help you identify the signs of stress and manage your stressors more effectively.
Stress management is one of the most critical parts of holistic wellness. When you’re less stressed, you can feel your best and thrive in your daily life. Here are some stress management techniques that you might find helpful.
- Balance your good stress. Goal-setting can be a great way to get the most out of your good stress without letting it develop into harmful stress. Write down your priorities and take breaks throughout the day to balance your bursts of productivity.
- Wind down. While school, work, and home life can all be stressful, it’s important to take time to unwind at the end of the day. Read a book, take a walk, or listen to some calming music to calm your mind and melt stress away.
- See your therapist regularly. Stress management can be a daunting task when stress is a constant presence in your life. One of the main advantages of individual therapy is having the opportunity to talk through your stress with a mental health professional. They can help you find stress management techniques that work for you.
- Set boundaries. Overfilling your schedule can add to existing stress and overwhelm you. Don’t be afraid to decline plans with friends and put a limit on activities, so you can spend more time relaxing.
- Talk to friends. While setting boundaries with friends is certainly important, so is connecting. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a loved one if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes simply talking to someone can make a stressful situation feel more manageable.
If you’re experiencing excess stress in your life, you don’t need to cope alone. SOL Mental Health is proud to offer a variety of holistic behavioral health services to help you better manage your stress. Our counseling and coaching centers offer individual therapy, and psychiatric services, as well as sessions with holistic health and wellness coaches. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our mental health professionals.