Whether it manifests as a tightening in your chest, a quickened heart rate, or a feeling of imposing doom, stress is a common feeling, and it affects virtually everyone at one point or another.
Known to scientists as a highly subjective phenomenon, stress has a starring role in the everyday lives of most people. Related to dozens of troubling chronic conditions, from heart disease to diabetes and depression, stress is bad for your health and wellbeing.
That said, though, it’s unavoidable, which means that stress is something everyone must learn to cope with at some point or another. Today, we’re going to talk about stress: what it is, and how to deal with it, and where to seek help if you need it. Read on.
What Is Stress?
There is no single, linear definition of stress. This is because stress is a highly individualized experience that varies from person to person. The dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”
For most people, stress can strike at any time and can be related to everything from finances to jobs to personal relationships.
What To Know About Stress
Part of the process of overcoming stress is understanding it. Here are five things to know about stress and how it manifests for different people.
1. Stress Affects Everyone
While everyone handles stress differently, the feeling is universal. Although some individuals cope with stress more efficiently or deal with it less outwardly than others, this does not mean stress is not present. Some of the most common stressors in life are money, work, family, responsibilities, and change.
2. Stress Can Be A Good Thing
While stress is often associated with negative feelings or emotions, it bears mentioning that stress can be a good thing. In some cases, stress related to things like a job or financial security can inspire people to work harder or perform better.
This, in turn, can improve the quality of a person’s life and create positive change. Beyond that, some people just cope with stress differently, turning what could be a negative experience for some into a positive experience or a learning opportunity.
3. Stress Is Dangerous For Your Health
While everyone experiences stress from time to time, chronic stress can put your health at risk. Stress is directly related to chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, obesity, and depression. As such, individuals experiencing intense or chronic levels of stress need to find ways to cope with the emotions so that it does not begin to impact their daily lives or their health.
4. Stress Can Be Managed
So, everyone experiences stress, and it can be damaging to your health. Where does that leave you? Luckily, stress is a manageable emotion, and people who learn to cope with the feeling effectively can limit the impact it has on their lives and well-being.
5. Some Stress Requires Professional Help
In some cases, the lines between normal stress and serious anxiety or depression can become blurry. As such, it’s smart to know that some stress, particularly the kind that is ongoing, difficult to resolve, or distressing, may require the help of an expert.
This is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, seeking professional help for undue or ongoing stress can contribute to improving the quality of your life and making you a happier and healthier person.
How To Cope With Stress
There are dozens of ways to handle stress. No matter where your stress is coming from, or how bad it may be, you can use a series of simple coping methods to limit its impact on your life. Here are a few of the most popular:
It’s impossible to cope adequately with stress if your body and mind are not healthy. As such, one of the best ways to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming and to deal with it efficiently when it does is to stay healthy. This means eating well, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and making time for physical activity each day. When your body is healthy, it’s easier for your mind to be healthy, as well.
Take A Break
If your stress comes from a daily environment, like a job for a home setting, it can be imperative just to take a break when you need it. Even if the stress you experience in this environment isn’t overwhelming, anything that is pervasive will eventually impact your health. With this in mind, make time for yourself each day. If your stress comes from the workplace, for example, make an effort to get away for half an hour or 60 minutes each day at lunch. During this time, read a book, talk to a favorite friend on the phone, or take a walk. These small breaks will help you cope with stress more efficiently.
Talk To Someone
If you’re finding your stress excessively difficult to manage, it might be time to consider talking to someone. Start by calling a trusted friend or loved one, and then search out support groups for stress and anxiety. If that doesn’t work, you may consider enlisting professional help to teach you how to help with your stress.
Stress No More
Let’s face it: stress is a fact of life. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, stress will affect you. In some cases, though, stress can become overwhelming or harmful, and people who want to maintain their happiness and health and avoid the devastating chronic conditions caused by stress need to learn to cope with it efficiently.
By understanding your largest stressors (whether they revolve around money, family, relationships, or work) and developing functional ways to address them, avoid them, or cope with them when they pop up, you can improve your response to stress and live a happier, healthier life, starting today.