Our basic survival is generally guaranteed at this point, but that hasn't cut the stress that people feel in their day to day to lives. In fact, much of the stress people describe now is not of a short duration. It lasts for hours on the job, days and weeks build up. Difficulties at home can be a constant force, but the body is still responding by dumping fight or flight hormones into our blood stream, and it's taking a toll on the body and mind.
Stress can trigger depression, anxiety and a general state of unease in the mind. Making decisions to improve your situation can be more difficult because the mind is driven to short term fixes. Couple that with wear and tear on the body – stress negatively and very dramatically affects the heart and immune system – and life can quickly spiral out of your control.
A few simple steps you can do:
1. Label stressors as within your control and those that aren't. Making changes can be easier with this focus on what is within your control, making what isn't a little easier to manage.
2. Changing how you cope. When life gets rough, we sometimes poorly cope by using drugs, alcohol, bad eating and more. But these all just put additional stress on the body, we just don't notice it. Find support in friends and family, explore your interests and use vacation time, even if it's a staycation.
3. Take care of your body. Get the sleep you need, stay or physically active – even just walking more.
4. Be mindful. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress and help the body in many other ways. Whether it's yoga, meditation or just plain mindfulness, it's all a great way to counter stress.
You can work with a therapist to begin to make these steps, explore them deeper and work on additional ways to keep on living while dialing down the stress. Know this: A certain amount of your stress is within your control, so take the first steps today, whether that is doing it on your own, or with a little help from a therapist.
This Topic of the Week was written by Brian Swope, MFT.