CPCC blog post
Stress: The Persistent Enemy of Mental Health by Sarah Carter
Stress is a nagging, constant companion is many of our day to day lives. Our schedules are busy, our jobs are demanding, and our families seem to need more from us than we can give. We survive long commutes, long days at home with small kids, and difficult nights in class where we strive to get ahead and have a better future. We have given in to the notion that we are destined to always be in a rush with a to-do list a mile long. Stress sets in and becomes chronic; meanwhile, we don’t think there is any other way to live. Our bodies, minds, and emotions take a toll when we are chronically stressed, and we end up miserable.
Physical signs of stress:
- Tightness of your chest
- Tense shoulders
- Decreased immune system
- Irregular eating
Mental and emotional signs of stress:
- Inability to focus
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased depression
- Increased anxiety
- Increased anger and irritability
- Isolation and social withdrawal
Stress affects our bodies and moods, and it can have a huge impact on our mental health. It can worsen mood disorders that we are working hard each day to fight. It has the ability to rekindle OCD or eating disorders which historically were worked through and put behind us. Stress can strain relationships that we are trying to rebuild and muddle communication that we are trying to improve. Stress can have such a profound impact if we let it blindly take over our lives.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way! We can increase our self-awareness by learning our personal mental and physical signs which indicate that we are more stressed. We can have check ins with ourselves, our therapists, or a loved one regarding how we are doing this day or week and what we need to process the stress. If we are aware and proactive, we can find the root and learn how to calm down our minds and bodies in a stressful season without it having such strong effects. One of the best things we can do is take small breaks to recharge and refocus throughout the day so we don’t feel like we are working ourselves into the ground.
Some helpful solutions for daily stress relief:
- Cardiovascular exercise
- Getting enough sleep
- Mindfulness practices
- Prayer or meditation
- Journaling before bed
- Art- drawing, painting, knitting, etc.
- Talking with a close friend
- Apps such as Calm, Headspace, Aura
Through daily self-care, we can lessen our stress level and be more productive, happy individuals.