Stress is your body’s natural and normal response to events out of the ordinary, unexpected or worrisome, and it has a funny way of sneaking up on us. Sometimes we may not understand how stressed out we are until we reach a breaking point. We all expect to experience stress at some point in our lives, but it can become problematic if it continues for long periods of time without relief. Read on for helpful ways to stay aware of subtle stressors, manage stress in your day-to-day life, and stay alert for signs that it’s time for more help.
Stress comes in many different forms, some less obvious than others. The negative impact of these subtle stressors can add up quickly if they go unnoticed for too long. Recognizing certain situations and sources of subtle stressors can help you manage them before they become overwhelming:
- Many of us are experiencing sudden and prolonged changes in our routines and what we once considered ‘normal life’. As much as we’ve become accustomed to certain things now, the health anxiety and pandemic fatigue is still very real and presents a unique cause of stress.
- You may not notice while in the moment, but the negativity we face every time we turn on the news or open up social media has a powerful effect on us. We experience a constant bombardment of headlines meant to provoke our emotion, and a seemingly endless amount of reports of illnesses and rising conflicts. This makes it difficult to see good around us and have a positive attitude towards the future. Ultimately, it can take a huge toll on our overall outlook on life.
- Relationships that aren’t supportive and fulfilling can be draining. Especially relationships that are not harmonious or no longer bring you the security and happiness you once felt. Attempts at repairing relationships or thoughts around ending them can quickly become overwhelming and present a high level of stress.
- At times, we can find ourselves on ‘robot mode’ - not realizing that we are experiencing emotional fatigue in situations at home or work that seem unending. Emotional fatigue is a type of stress that often goes unnoticed for long periods of time.
Signs of Stress
Signs of stress can vary for everyone, but there are several common indicators that you can look out for. Some subtle signs you may not otherwise attribute to stress are: shoulder and back pain, jaw pain, dental problems (commonly caused by unknowingly grinding teeth or clenching your jaw), and weight fluctuations (either up or down). Signs of more severe stress that sometimes get overlooked are: sleep disturbances, feeling unusually emotional, difficulty concentrating on tasks, stomach disturbances, headaches, menstrual irregularities, and signs of depression.
Ideas for Managing Stress
Managing your stress should be a part of your daily health routine. Just as much as a healthy diet and exercise support your physical health, stress management is an important way to support your mental health. Here are some simple tips to help keep your stress levels low:
- Unplug - Take time to disconnect from social media, news outlets, and technology in general. This is especially important for those who must be connected for work. Set aside time every day to unplug and concentrate on yourself and those around you. Consider a ‘no-phones’ rule at the dinner table, or ‘screen-free Sunday’ with your family.
- Connect with nature - Take a walk outside! Exercise is a necessity for physical health, but it also plays a huge role in mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, “Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.”
- Journaling - Journaling gets your thoughts and emotions on paper and has long been used as a way of improving mental clarity. Journaling can help you recognize fears and concerns, organize your thoughts, and identify problematic patterns.
- Meditation - Practicing meditation is helpful for increasing our mindfulness and self awareness. For years, people of all ages and backgrounds have reported an increase in mental positivity and stress reduction by using meditation techniques.
- Creative outlets - Having a creative outlet such as reading, crafting, gardening, or painting is a great way to relax, give your mind a break from troubling thoughts, and focus your energy on making something rewarding and beautiful.
- Self-care - Scheduling time for yourself on a daily and weekly basis is important for many aspects of your mental health, and is a great way to manage stress. Relaxing in a warm bath, getting lost in a good book, or treating yourself to some pampering are just a few great ways to destress. Use your interests and hobbies to guide you to something enjoyable and relaxing!
- Seeking support - Having a good support system is important for all of us. Communicate with your trusted friends and family about how you are feeling and suggest ways they can help you. Don’t be afraid to delegate to those willing to help take on some of your burdens.
Be proactive to avoid the consequences of stress
Stress is a normal and expected part of life, but constant background stress can begin affecting your mental and physical health long before you realize it is a problem. It is important to remain aware of the stressors in your life, even the subtle ones that may not seem like a big deal. Taking time for stress management before it becomes a problem is the best way to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Early intervention with counseling is a wonderful way to gain professional insight and personalized stress management techniques at any stage. If you or someone you know in the Nevada or California areas would benefit from counseling to manage stress, reach out to Medens Health online or by calling or texting (833) 624-5400.