Stress can creep up on us in many ways. Whether you get a headache or the feeling of overwhelm, stress can make even a small task seem impossible and can impact your daily life. It’s a natural way of our body and minds reacting to something perceived as threat or challenge. It can build up over time and chronic stress can create health issues. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), excessive or chronic stress that has no opportunity for release can have negative effects on a person’s physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral states.
I’ve had my own prolonged stress in my life that I’m changing as I type this blog. The impact it has had on both my physical and mental health was significant. Taking steps to reduce stress helped and making a change for the better will also result in a new outlook. It will also help restore my physical and mental health. Change can be hard, but it can also give you a new, fresh start to healing the damage.
Your response to stress over time can create wear and tear on your body in multiple ways from internal organs to our muscular system. Stress can also impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness and infection. The cycle below illustrates the response to stress and what it can do to your health.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) outlines how stress affects your entire body. Some common signs:
- Trouble sleeping
- Jaw pain
- Changes in appetite
- Frequent mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed
The holidays and deadlines don’t help when you’re already feeling stretched thin. The key is to find the combination of stress reducers that work for you. We have many tools and options to choose from to help us manage stress. Some you’re probably already doing and may not realize it. Below are some stress reducers that may also help.
20 Unique Ways to Manage Stress
- Put on comfortable clothes
- Hold an ice cube
- Make a list of things that make you happy
- Light a candle that smells good
- Exercise – meditate, yoga, stretch, jump up and down, run in place
- Sit in the sunlight for 5 minutes
- Put down the phone and stay off social media
- Clean your room or tidy your work area
- Paint or color
- Lay on the grass or ground and stare at the sky
- Paint your nails
- Organize a space
- Have a glass of cold water
- Look for a recipe to make
- Close your eyes and count to ten
- Walk away from your current location, especially away from the screens
- Write out your feelings
- Play with PlayDough or Silly Putty
- Yell or scream into a pillow
- Take a hot bath or shower
It’s really important to identify when you need extra help. Talking it with someone else can also help reduce your stress and help you feel more grounded. Below are ways you can seek support.
- Talk with a friend, family member or mentor
- Reach out to a counselor or therapist
- Use your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) from work, if available
Call or Text for Support
- SAMHSA Helpline 1-800-662-4357
- NAMI Helpline 1-800-950-6264
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Counselor Textline: Text HOME to 741741
You’re not alone. We all have stress. The key is to practice techniques to manage your stress or make a change if something or someone is creating undo stress in your life. Reach out to others to get extra support. We’re all in this together and can lift one another out of the stress cycle.
Do you have unique ways that you manage your stress? We’d love to hear about them. Share them below!
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