Managing Stress

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We have all been there – in our youth, as students, oversleeping and missing the bus for school. As adults, getting a flat tire that causes us to be late for work. These everyday moments are stressful, but when do daily stressors become cause for concern? It may surprise you to learn that not all stress is bad! In fact, research performed at the Mayo Clinic has revealed that healthy stress can help individuals become more resilient. For example, anxiety about an upcoming exam may help to motivate students to study and be better prepared for their test. The key is learning how to combat stress and anxiety before stress becomes chronic and inhibits one’s ability to function in their daily lives.

How does one recognize the warning signs of stress overload? There are several symptoms that stress and anxiety may be becoming overwhelming, which include:

- The frequency of stress (unrelenting, constant feelings of anxiety and worry)

- Difficulty regulating emotions

- Withdrawal from loved ones and/or pleasurable activities

- Physical manifestations of anxiety, including palpitations, GI upset, headaches, and sleep disturbances (Mayo Clinic, 2024).

Learning to manage stress and anxiety is crucial to an individual’s physical and mental well- being. Identifying triggers for stress and anxiety is an important first step in this process. Often, I recommend journaling to my clients struggling with stress and anxiety, as I have found this to be a helpful tool in recognizing patterns of behavior that may increase stress. Additional stress management tools can include:

- Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, body scanning, yoga, and meditation

- Physical activity, which can include any activity that brings you joy, such as taking a walk in nature, swimming, or taking your pet for a leisurely stroll around

   the neighborhood

- Positive affirmations and practicing gratitude

- Remaining connected and fostering these connections – this can include scheduling brunch with friends, FaceTime calls with long distance relatives, or

   giving back through charitable work

- Seeking therapy

If you feel negatively impacted by stress and anxiety, talking to an unbiased, trained professional can help! Our therapists at Second Story Counseling would love to meet with you and hear your story!

~Christy Gage, LLC