Stress Awareness: Identifying and Coping with Stress
April is Stress Awareness month, a month dedicated to shedding light on the causes of stress and what can help lower stress levels.
Simply put, stress is feeling overwhelmed by mental or emotional pressure.
What causes stress?
There are many causes of stress. Big life events can cause stress such as planning a wedding, getting a divorce, grieving a loved one, having children, going through college, switching careers, and making big financial decisions can cause stress. However, a lot of stress can be caused by the day-to-day feeling of overwhelm from things such as a busy schedule, workload, running a house, and paying the bills. No one experiences the same exact stressors or in the same exact way, but everyone does experience stress.
What might stress feel like?
Stress can feel like a different emotion or state of being or multiple feelings at once. Here are some of the prominent feelings that stress can feel like:
- Loss of control over a situation
How might the body react to stress?
Just like we can have different emotions spring up as a result from stress, our bodies also react to being stressed. Some of the ways our bodies react to stress are:
- Crying or being tearful
- Body aches
- Heart palpitations
What are some behaviors that may be exhibited as a sign of stress?
Due a change in mood and physical well-being, our behavior often changes during stressful times. You may experience:
- Problems falling or staying asleep
- Sleeping too much
- Being “short” or “snapping” at people out of irritability
- Becoming easier to upset than normal
- Withdrawing from people and activities
What can you do to help ease stress?
- One way to help ease stress is by feeling the emotion through to the end. Whatever is causing stress is bound to end and so will the stress that surrounds that situation. It’s hard, and you may need to find small things that help ease stress, like deep breathing, a bubble bath, or reading a book when you have time. Going through the motions and seeing the situation through can really help relieve the stress you’re feeling.
- Another way to ease stress to pinpoint the source of it and try to change it. For example, if you are feeling stress because there is so much housework to be done, prioritize what needs to be cleaned, carve out some time to clean, and start from the top of the list. If the tasks are too overwhelming to do it alone, try asking someone to help you or to just sit with you and visit while you do the cleaning. A cleaner space is less stressful to live in, and getting chores done will relieve some stress as well. Another example is if you feel stressed because it’s a busy time at work and you’ve been working overtime, try going for a walk after work or on lunch breaks. Fresh air may clear your mind and physical activity can help relieve stress as well. Which brings us to the next point….
- Physical activity! Moving your body produces endorphins, a hormone that helps you feel happier. Getting active can not only take your mind off stressors for a little bit but can also help you feel happier biologically.
- Reach out to your support system for help or just to talk. Sometimes we feel a lot better when we have someone to talk to about the things that are bothering us.
- Eat healthy. Eating healthy can make your body and mind feel better and can help combat stress.
- Make time for hobbies you like to partake in. Doing things we like such as reading, painting, birdwatching, sewing, quilting, photography, etc. can help take our minds of stress, make us happy, and reset ourselves so we feel better after the activity, much like physical activity helps.
Everyone feels stress. It’s important to our bodies and minds to take steps to lower our stress levels. There are many ways to do that and this blog post only lists a few.
Resources for this blog are: