Manage Stress: Strengthen Your Support Network
Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with lifes difficulties, while loneliness has been associated with a wide variety of health problems including high blood pressure, diminished immunity, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
Manage stress: Strengthen your support network.
Stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life but too much stress can affect your emotional and physical wellbeing. According to APAs 2015 Stress in America survey1, average stress levels today are slightly higher than they were in 2014. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is “a great deal of stress” and one is “little or no stress,” American adults rated their stress level at a 5.1 today, up from 4.9 in 2014. But worrisomely, a significantly greater percentage of adults reported experiencing a stress level of 8 or higher on the 10-point scale. Twenty-four percent of American adults reported this extreme level of stress in 2015, up from 18 percent the previous year.
Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with lifes difficulties. The 2015 survey found the average stress level for those with emotional support was 5.0 out of 10, compared to 6.3 for those without such support.
The good news is that there are ways to seek out such support, and to nurture your supportive relationships.
How To Get Help
If you feel that stress is starting to interfere with your daily activities, its time to reach out for help. The American Psychological Association is a good place to start your online search. Check out their free psychologist locator to find therapists in your state. You can also ask your family doctor for recommendations.
While many insurance companies cover mental health services, its important to check with your provider regarding in-network therapists. Youll also want to check out information regarding co-payments and other fees.
There are affordable therapy options no matter your insurance coverage and budget.
Some therapists dont take medical insurance due to privacy concerns. You may check to see if they offer sliding scale fees to help off-set your costs. Local clinics, blogs, therapy apps, and virtual sessions may also be less expensive.
Its important to schedule an initial consultation to gauge your comfort level with your therapist. You may find that it takes a few different therapists until youve found the right fit.
The above techniques can work for both chronic and acute forms of stress, and they can complement any therapies you decide to try. If youre struggling with ongoing stress, see a mental health professional for advice.
Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. The playlist below will help you to understand how stress works and start feeling better. These exercises can be done anywhere and are designed to help you feel more relaxed in general, as well as helping you feel calmer if you are becoming stressed.
This playlist is free to download, and you can also stream it using the Soundcloud website or app. You can download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you. If you’re listening to it for the first time, it’s best to start from the beginning.
To access a BSL version of this playlist, .
Find out more by checking out these 10 stress busters.
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Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety
There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
- Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.
During therapy, continue to show your support by:
- Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
- Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
- Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
- Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.
When Should I See A Physician About My Anxiety
If you are suffering from bouts of anxiety that prevent you from functioning, or if you have been having more moments of anxiety than normal that impact your ability to work, sleep, or function it might be time to see a doctor. You and your doctor can talk about what might be causing your anxiety and determine if some form of treatment whether counseling, medication, or further evaluation is needed.
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What Therapies Work For Stress
While stress itself is a normal part of life, recurring stress that interferes with your daily activities and overall well-being is not. Stress can manifest itself in different ways, including excessive worrying, inability to sleep at night, and body aches.
Stress can take its toll, but therapy can help you manage it better. Some types of therapy may even equip you with strategies to cope with future stress. Below are the most commonly used therapies for stress and related mental health conditions.
What Is Mental Health
Mental health encompasses our emotions, thoughts and mental well-being. When someone has a mental health disorder, it can affect their thoughts and behavior, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
While the terms are often mixed, mental health and mental illness are not the same, the CDC notes. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, someone with a mental health disorder can experience physical, mental and social well-being. Mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and more.
Although there may be unwarranted stigma surrounding mental health issues, these conditions are more common than many believe in 2019, 19% of U.S. adults met the criteria for mental health disorders, according to Mental Health AmericaPrevalence of Mental Illness 2021. Mental Health America. Accessed 4/21/22. . And more than half may be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point, notes the National Institutes of HealthMental Health. Medicine Plus. Accessed 4/21/22. .
Everyone has some level of anxiety, especially with the pandemic and with the way the world is right now, says Manreet Kaur, a national certified counselor and clinical lead at Valley Youth House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is important to know when to seek help.
You Deserve To Be Happy
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Where To Seek Help
If theres an emergency or mental health crisis, please ensure you seek help with the following resources:
- 911 + Emergency Room
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Line: call the three-digit code 988
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call the three-digit code 988 and press 1, or send a text to 838255
- Alvarado Parkway Institute: Call our 24/7 crisis line at 619-333-7050
If youre searching for a therapist or psychologist in your area, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America keeps a directory of therapists who specialize in anxiety, depression, and PTSD. You can search by city, state, or country by completing the Find a Therapist form.
The American Psychology Association also provides a locator for psychologists. You can use their APA Psychologist Locator online. Veterans Affairs also offers several PTSD treatment programs for veterans. You can learn about PTSD care options here.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a behavioral health treatment services locator for those seeking a treatment facility in their area. They provide facilities in the US and US territories.
How To Know When To Seek Therapy
People often wonder. When does it make sense to begin therapy? Therapists use two primary reasons to see if treatment would be recommended. We call it level of distress and impairment in functioning. The simple translation for you is how upset do you feel about what you are experiencing, and how much is the anxiety or depression getting in the way of things you want to do or need to do .
It is very normal to have some anxiety with changes in your own or your loved ones lives. Common symptoms of anxiety, like worry or a feeling of nervousness, or physical symptoms are common in life, and especially under times of stress. Remember changes can feel good and bad at the same time and may require some time to adjust to. One thing to keep in mind is that stress and sadness can sometimes change with a bit of time and perspective.
Life choices should not be based on anxiety, fear or sadness but on the life you want to have.
How to know when to go to treatment:
- Anxiety and depression symptoms can be very normal with life changes or challenges
- Ok to wait a bit and monitor how you feel
- Try to eat and sleep well and exercise- can help a lot
- Try to use your coping skills and self-help options
But you know you – if you are not feeling yourself trust that it’s a good enough reason to start treatment.
These might be reasons for treatment:
Treatment works and you deserve the full and rich life that you want.
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Managing Stress And Anxiety
What’s the difference between stress and anxiety? Learn the symptoms and triggers of each to identify which is affecting you, the link between your gut and mental health, and how to overcome them.
Weve all experienced stress and anxiety: the racing heart, sweaty palms, maybe a stomach ache. You might even feel like crying or lashing out.
Whats going on?
Are you experiencing stress, or is it anxiety? Whats the difference between the two?
And more importantly, what can you do to feel like yourself again?
Lets check out some of the signs of stress and anxiety, figure out which of the two is affecting you, and look at the most effective techniques for managing them.
Is Stress A Mental Health Problem
Stress is not normally considered a mental health problem. But it is connected to our mental health in several ways:
- Stress can cause mental health problems. And it can make existing problems worse. For example, if you experience lots of stress, this might lead you to develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression. Or a traumatic period of stress might lead to post-traumatic stress disorder .
- Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem is stressful. You may also feel stressed about managing medication, healthcare appointments or other treatments.
- You might use recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with stress. This could also affect your mental health, and cause further stress.
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Treatment: When To Seek Professional Help And Where To Find Help For Major Depression
When to Seek Professional Help
Everyone feels low and depressed every now and then. How then, are you supposed to know when your depressive symptoms have reached a point when professional help would be a good idea? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your depressed mood lasts for more than two weeks, or is seriously interfering with your ability to function at work, with your family, and in your social life, or is causing you to contemplate or plan to commit suicide, it would be a very good idea for you to consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.
This advice to seek out professional help counts double with regard to any suicidal symptoms you may be experiencing. If you find yourself thinking seriously about suicide, please make an appointment with a mental health doctor as soon as you can.
If you are feeling acutely suicidal that you will end up committing suicide within hours or days unless you receive some relief, then bypass the advice about making an appointment with a doctor just take yourself immediately to your local hospital emergency room and tell them there that you are feeling suicidal. In such a case, there is no time to waste with appointments.
Where To Find Help
- Mental health specialists, including:
When You Should Seek Help For Your Stress
Michelle Taylor, LPCC says Is this even possible to do? To control your emotions?
Stress is a normal part of life. However, some people are equipped with the right coping mechanisms that are needed to deal with stress and others have difficulty handling their stress to the point where it affects their mental health. If you are the latter and you find yourself googling things such as therapist near me, you can read an article by Betterhelp, or also use this article to find out when you should be seeking help for your stress.
You Should Seek Help When
1. You find it difficult to handle Your emotions
If youve been feeling overwhelmingly sad, angry, empty, or any other type of negative emotion as a result of your high levels of stress, you need to seek help. These emotions could simply be just emotions or they could be signs of a developing mental illness. However, you shouldnt ignore it either way. Seek out a mental health professional who can help you manage your stress as well as your emotions.
2. Youre eating too much or too little
A major change in appetite is almost always a sign of an emotional problem. Whats worse is that you may end up developing an eating disorder and an unhealthy relationship with food as a result of this appetite change. Prevent this by going to a therapist and, should you end up seeing the signs of an eating disorder, someone who can help you with that as well.
3. Excessive fatigue
4. You begin having Panic attacks
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How Do I Know If I’m Too Stressed
The key to stress management is finding the right balance between productive stress and stress that makes you feel overwhelmed and unproductive.
You can look out for physical signs of stress as well. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released by your body and cause your heart to beat faster and your breathing to quicken. Your stomach may feel uneasy, your muscles may tense up and your skin can become sensitive.
All of these are signs that your body is preparing for a fight or flight situation. These feelings should pass soon after the stressful situation is over. If they dont pass, it may be a sign that you are too stressed.
The point where stress is no longer productive is different for everyone, but you might look out for the following clues:
- feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
- feeling on edge or unable to stop worrying
- changes in sleep patterns, feeling exhausted
Sometimes internal stress can be brought on by anxiety, depression or self-criticism. Talking negatively about yourself and feeling as though you are never living up to your own or others expectations can be very stressful and can strain your mental and physical health.
When Is Stress A Problem
Sometimes, a small amount of stress can help us to complete tasks and feel more energised. But stress can become a problem when it lasts for a long time or is very intense. In some cases, stress can affect our physical and mental health.
You might hear healthcare professionals refer to some types of stress as ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’:
- Acute stress happens within a few minutesto a few hours of an event. It lasts for a short period of time, usually less than a few weeks, and is very intense. It can happen after an upsetting or unexpected event. For example, this could be a sudden bereavement, assault or natural disaster.
- Chronic stress lasts for a long period of timeor keeps coming back. You might experience this if you are under lots of pressure a lot of the time. You might also feel chronic stress if your day-to-day life is difficult, for example if you are a carer or if you live in poverty.
I had time off work with stress and anxiety issues. I was on a very slippery slope and getting further down said slope at a rapid speed. I was scared.
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When You Should Start To Worry About Your Anxiety
If anxiety is causing marked distress and making a difference in the way you are living your life, there is a problem.
You should seek treatment if your anxiety is causing you to be significantly uncomfortable for days, weeks or months preventing you from doing things you want to do creating problems with family and friends or interfering with your job performance.
Recognise When Stress Is A Problem
Its important to connect the physical and emotional signs youre experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Dont ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.
Think about whats causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you cant take on.
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