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Stress and Your Mental Health

Posted 05-04-2018

When someone asks you are, two of the most common responses are “busy” and “stressed”. We hear this very often but what does it really mean to be stressed? Simply put, stress is experiencing tension or emotional strain. Not all stress is bad, but when you are stressed often, it takes a toll on your mental and overall health.

Stress causes a reaction known as fight or flight mode. When your body is subjected to these hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, for an extended period of time, it can be detrimental. Too much stress can lead to further complications such as anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, lack of sleep and heart disease. The first step of learning how to deal with stress is identifying what is causing your stress.

Triggers of Stress

There are triggers of stress that you can experience on a daily basis. These can come from work, family, personal and school. Whether you are trying to meet a deadline, work through a family disagreement, or just pay your bills on time these seemingly small stressors can cause some level of stress and affect your mental health. There are also major life events that can cause more severe bouts of stress.

According to the American Institute of Stress and the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, certain life events are more stressful than others. These events do not discriminate and can happen at any point. The five most stressful events anyone can experience are:

  • The death of a spouse or life partner
  • Getting a divorce
  • Getting a separation from a spouse or partner
  • Going to jail or being detained in an institution
  • The death of someone in your close family

While you can’t prevent these from happening, there are certain steps you can take to reduce stress and improve the way you deal with it in your everyday life. By learning how to cope with your stress you can greatly improve the state of your mental health.

Stress Management

Even though stress is an automatic response from your body, there are some things you can do on a daily basis to manage the stress you feel. One thing you can do is practice the 4 A’s of stress management.

  • Avoid unnecessary stress
  • Alter the situation
  • Adapt to the stressor
  • Accept the things you can’t change

When dealing with any stressful situation, think of which A will help you the most in your response to what is happening and how your change in attitude can affect the outcome.

The New York Times points out several skills to help you better handle stress. By having a positive outlook on life, you automatically increase your resilience against stressful events.

Exercise is another helpful tool, as physical activity helps your body eliminate stress hormones. At the same time, exercise floods your system with endorphins that ease pain and tension in the body. Finding a support system can provide a positive outlet for you to discuss your stressors. These skills help you boost your mental, emotional, and physical health so that when stress occurs you are better equipped to process it.

Finding Support with PORT

At PORT Health, we provide counseling services that evolve around honesty, cooperation and open communication. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, visit one of our many PORT locations and talk to one of our counselors. You can either call or walk in for service at any office at any time. We are here to help you overcome your stressors and move forward in a positive way.