Dealing with Stress

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Jenn Bovee, LCSW, CRADC, CCHt

Every human being alive has experienced stress at one point or another, right?

However, when asked to define what stress is many people are unable to define this concept.

Webster’s dictionary defines stress as: “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”  The reality is for many of us our awareness of what it feels like when we begin becoming stressed is very low.

Many people are so over stimulated and over stressed that they have lost track of how stress impacts their bodies.

Typical signs of increasing stress are:  throbbing muscles, headache, sweating, hair loss, weight gain, foggy memory, decrease in energy, skin changes (break outs, etc.), begin shallow breathing, and digestion slows down.

But I’m a firm believer in developing the understanding of how stress both impacts my body as well as how it feels when it shows up.

Once we begin noticing how stress impacts us we can become empowered to change our responses to stress.

Many of my clients find it so much easier to manage their stress once they develop the awareness of what it looks like when their stress is growing.

Typical symptoms of stress include: decrease in energy, headaches, stomach issues, low back pain discomfort, increase of pain, acne, sleep issues, appetite change, sweating, and a change in sex drive. This list is clearly not all inclusive, but hopefully it will help you to identify when your stress issues are climbing.

I want to spend the rest of this blog, empowering you to combat your stress in more effective ways.

I don’t believe that there are any “right” ways in coping with stress. Stress coping skills are as personal as they are individual.

My goal is to give you a framework for coping with stress while also monitoring your stress levels. My suggestions include:

1.       Ask For Help – Often: I’m a big fan of asking for help when the overwhelming sensations begin to grow. Whether it’s simply communicating your needs, talking about your emotional responses to stimuli, or expressing your feelings about situations; asking for help is typically underrated. Many people relish asking for help as a last resort, when I suspect it would be more beneficial to ask for help much earlier.

2.       Exercise: This doesn’t have to be running a half a marathon. Although, if that’s how you de-stress I’m a big fan of you doing that. It can be something as simple as Pilates, taking a quick walk down your street, doing some stretching, or even some yoga. I’m a fan of moving your body because this opens the door to see where your body is storing stress. Which also allows for you to check in and see when the stress your body is holding, is climbing.

3.       Focus on ways to actively decrease stress:  healthy eating, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, focusing on gratitude, journaling your emotions and experiences, and listening to music are all ways to actively decrease your stress. When we focus on making sure that our stress level remains low it promotes healing and a healthy lifestyle.

4.       Meditation/Self-Hypnosis: Allow your mind an opportunity to check out and relax is a huge need in our society today. We live in a constantly stimulated society at this point, with consistent exposure to social media and electronics are creating more stress for everyone involved. Both meditation and self-hypnosis are ways to allow both the body and mind to relax. Both techniques also have ways of allowing people to release the emotions that are creating the stress for themselves.

5.       Have Fun: It’s is crucial, healthy, and necessary to have fun. People frequently dismiss the validity of having fun, but it’s such a crucial thing. When people are having fun they are typically laughing and are focusing on what is right in front of them. Laughing is a great stress reducer and helps people to connect to others effortlessly. I’m a firm believer in scheduling time for fun and laughter.

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Above all else, I really want you to walk away from this blog with the deep understanding that sometimes people need professional assistance in finding ways to de-stress. There is absolutely no shame in needing professional help for any issue. I hope you have found these suggestions helpful.

If you feel like you would benefit from some assistance is de-stressing, please contact us at info@TheMentalWellnessCenter.com to schedule your appointment.

Jenn Bovee