There are a multitude of reasons that people find themselves stressed in their daily life. Some points of stress are situational, or they can be more general—like family, work, school, and personal relationships. Stress can be overwhelming to endure alone, and without helpful ways of managing, it can create havoc in the mind and body.
Stress is a biochemical reaction to something that creates tension—whether that is emotional or physical. When we experience stress, our brain goes into “high alert” as it prepares our body to respond to whatever situation is at hand. In these moments, our body begins a complex process, part of which is to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, essentially preparing the body to fight, flee, or freeze. While this process can be lifesaving in truly dangerous situations, experiencing this stress reaction on an ongoing basis can have detrimental health consequences.
The responses caused by stress are normal and can be very useful. Stress helps us do well on tests or perform well at work. Stress helps us slam on the brakes when a car in front of us stops suddenly. However, stress can also cause physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral difficulties including nausea, racing thoughts, inconsistent sleep, anxiety, panic attacks, and difficulty concentrating.
If stress goes unaddressed it can lead to serious health issues like obesity, substance use disorder, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is extremely important to monitor the responses you are having to stress and find ways to better manage them. If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, try using these practices to help:
Once you begin to eliminate some of the stressors in your life and learn to be patient with your own process, then you can begin to manage your stress in more healthy ways. Take the time to connect with others, and understand that the process of eliminating stress is not always easy. If you have tried to better manage your stress, but find you are still struggling, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide more tools on how to manage your stress and healthy tips for coping.
Megan Ragan is an Assistant Coordinator at Centerstone, a not-for-profit health system specializing in mental health and substance use disorder services.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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