Stress and Your Health
Stress is a physical response as your body releases chemicals and hormones to help you cope with stressors you are facing – creating a very real physical effect on your body. Not only does stress affect how you think and feel in the present, but it can also potentially cause health problems in the future. Managing your stress is important for your mental health, wellness, your relationships, and also your physical health.
Mental Illness and Mental Health
Mental illness can certainly affect someone’s ability to cope with stresses in their life, but working towards better mental health is something that everyone should be concerned with. Getting to know your mental health is important.
For those suffering from mental illnesses, diagnosis and professional help are important first steps, but awareness of your health and the stresses that surround you is important to stay in touch with your brain and body’s health. Health professionals are a fantastic resource for people with and without mental illnesses, and there are many resources out there to help anyone in any state of mental health.
How to Cope With Stress
Each person has their own experience with stress and can find relief in different ways. When tackling stress, it’s a good idea to start small with manageable steps and to build from there:
- Stay aware of your body and its reaction to stress. Anxiety and stress can be your body telling your brain that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Listening to your stress levels will help you to identify stressors in your life as well as see your progress.
- Reduce stress. Sometimes stress is a necessary part of our lives and can even be a healthy reaction to circumstances. Keeping in mind what parts of your life cause stress and asking how you can reduce these stresses is important. Sometimes managing your mental health and wellbeing is about managing the circumstances that surround you, as well as looking at how you think about stress.
- Rest. Take time to yourself to deal with stress – your health is important, and everyone needs a break sometimes.
- Take care of yourself. People start to forget about taking care of themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed. Be honest with yourself about your hygiene, nutrition, exercise, sleep habits, and how you can take care of yourself better.
- Find tools that work to reduce your stress. Everyone is different, but many people find relief in different tools like meditation, ASMR, light exercise, or hobbies.
- Stay engaged. Establishing personal space is good, but consider if you might be isolating yourself from people and whether it’s a healthy habit for you.
Helping Loved Ones Cope
Helping a loved one that is under a lot of stress can be challenging, especially when you can’t help them take on the stressors themselves. There are still many ways that you can be helpful and supportive:
- Active listening is about listening, instead of just passively hearing. Be open-minded and engaged in what they have to say.
- Empathy is key in active listening.
- Helping in unexpected ways. Your loved one might not need help solving the stressors in their life, but might appreciate help with all the little things that stack up – like cooking, cleaning, errands, or appointments.
- Reaching out can be important to remind someone that you love them and are there to support them. Let them know that you are available to help them, while still respecting their boundaries.
Stress is sometimes an unavoidable part of life, and can easily build up to be overwhelming. Mental health and wellness are an important part of your overall health but are very often left out of the conversation. Managing stress and learning to cope is a lifelong skill, as is learning how to reach out and support those around you that need a little help.