Stress has a negative effect on nearly every person’s mental health at some point or another. A person could be stressed about their finances, family situation, or problems at their job. Stress from one aspect of someone’s life often bleeds into other parts of their life, sometimes completely overtaking their thoughts and feelings. If someone struggles with other mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression, stress can worsen the symptoms of those illnesses.
Stress can even cause detrimental effects on our physical health. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress can lead to “stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections, a host of viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In addition, stress can have direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis, the gastrointestinal system (GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis) and can contribute to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.”
So how can we manage our stress to avoid these unwanted negative effects?
According to the American Psychological Association, the following five activities help relieve stress:
- Take a break from the stressor: Don’t avoid your problems, but walk away for a few minutes to clear your thoughts and regain your focus
- Exercise: Get up and get moving for a little while
- Smile and laugh: If we physically express joy and happiness, soon we’ll start to feel that happiness and less stress
- Get social support: Talk to a family member or a friend about your feelings
- Meditate: Practicing mindfulness or meditation can help us relax and focus our energy on the right things
If you find yourself dealing with stress and you need someone to talk to, reach out. We’d be happy to help.