Identifying & Coping With Stress

Have you found yourself struggling to figure out how to manage stress? Has balancing the stressors of life become a task that is getting harder to manage? The key to managing stress is to start with identifying the areas in your life that are causing stress, and address what about these situations is creating anxious distress.

Below is a quick guide to defining, identifying, understanding, and coping with stress. This can provide the ground work for beginning to create an action plan for managing stress with a mental health provider or a trusted support system.

What is Stress?

Stress is a state of tension that leads to feeling overwhelmed due to a set of challenging circumstances. Stress is a biological response to a stimulus or experience, which prompts our body to take immediate action in response. This biological stress response creates awareness of potential threats to keep us safe. However it is possible for stress responses to become overactive or too frequent, which can lead to increased health concerns or negative effects on mental health.

How to Identify Stress.

  • Irritable or angry
  • Overwhelmed
  • Anxious
  • Racing or intrusive thoughts
  • Challenges with relaxing or feeling pleasure
  • Depressed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Shakiness
  • Impending doom or worry

What Causes Stress? 

  • High expectations (personally or externally)
  • Feeling under pressure
  • Employment
  • Finances
  • Worrying about something occurring
  • Negative or intense life circumstances
  • Change
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Lack of emotional or physical support
  • Abuse or Trauma
  • Emotional or physical neglect
  • Social or interpersonal obstacles
  • Inconsistent sleep hygiene
  • Injury

Skills for Managing Stress

  • Identify the stressors & create an action plan for addressing each individual task or stressor
  • Acknowledgement & identification of areas that are outside of your control
  • Be proactive or prepared
  • Self-care
  • Take a break from stressor or task
  • Create a schedule
  • Ask for support or assistance as needed
  • Breathing exercises or meditation
  • Exercise
  • Create or rely on a routine
  • Talk with a friend or support system
  • Spend time outside
  • Practice gratitude
  • Reflect on past experiences of stress & times you managed stress well
  • Healthy eating

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