Occasional stress is a normal part of life, but when it gets too extreme, it can take a severe toll on your mental health. Learning how to manage stress is one of the best things you can do for your overall sense of well-being. While you may not be able to control the situations that cause your stress, you can control how you respond. If you’re struggling with chronic stress, you should understand the importance of stress management and what strategies you can use to survive stressful moments with greater peace of mind.
Signs You’re Suffering from Chronic Stress
Recognizing your stress is the first step toward overcoming it. If you’re always stressed, you might be so accustomed to the feeling that you don’t even realize how much it’s affecting your health. The following are some key signs that you’re struggling with stress management:
- You’re exhausted all the time.
- You have a short fuse; you snap at small inconveniences.
- You can’t concentrate or remember things.
- Your heart is always racing.
- You feel nauseous, shaky, or jittery.
- You’ve lost or gained weight unintentionally.
Some amount of stress is completely normal and unavoidable. However, stress should not be taking a long-term toll on your health. If your stress is stopping you from enjoying your life, it’s time to make a change.
Why Stress Management Is So Important
Healthy stress management is an essential skill, especially if you frequently face stress with work, family, finances, or any other area of your life. You may be able to avoid certain stressors, but you probably can’t remove every source of stress around you. Instead, you can increase your resilience to stress by building stress relief strategies into your daily routine.
Learning to manage stress pays off for both your physical and mental health. Reduced stress is linked to increased heart health, a stronger immune system, and better sleep. You’ll also feel much more emotionally grounded when managing stress in a healthy way. Stress eats away at your patience, so mood swings are very common in people who struggle with chronic stress. Practicing stress management techniques will boost your mood overall and will help you feel less volatile.
Stress management improves your relationships, too. When you’re completely overwhelmed by stress, making meaningful connections with those around you can feel impossible. You might feel isolated from your friends or family, or your relationships may become strained because you feel moody or irritable. Managing stress can help you relate to others more positively.
7 Strategies for Managing Stress
Practicing stress management is an excellent form of self-care. When you put measures in place every day to stay calm and grounded, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your quality of life. Here are seven strategies you can use to relieve stress and restore your peace of mind:
1. Removing Stressors
If you’re consumed by stress, your first step should be to evaluate your stressors. What exactly is making you feel so stressed? Is there anything you can do to remove these issues from your life? It’s okay to pick your battles or set boundaries if external stressors are damaging your mental health. Although you can’t always get rid of what’s causing your stress, you can sometimes cut out certain factors that are contributing.
2. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is one of the best stress relief techniques for moments of heightened tension or anxiety. It slows down your nervous system and keeps your body calm, which in turn can calm down your mind. Additionally, you can access deep breathing anywhere and at any time. You could try belly breathing, which involves breathing so that your belly expands slowly as you inhale. Another popular technique is the 4-7-8 method, which involves breathing in for four counts, holding for seven counts, and breathing out for eight counts.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is an especially helpful stress management technique if you struggle with physical symptoms like muscle tension or a clenched jaw. You could use guided audio or video resources online, or you could practice progressive muscle relaxation on your own. Start by finding a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Then, tense one muscle group for a few seconds before releasing. Continue to slowly tense and release the muscles throughout your entire body until you feel completely relaxed.
Exercise is just as good for your emotional health as it is for your physical health. It can relieve tension and improve sleep, and it helps to regulate the chemicals in your brain that affect your mood and energy levels. Finding the time or motivation to work out while stressed isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do strenuous exercise to reap the benefits of movement. Even a short daily walk can be a powerful stress reliever.
5. Quality Time with Friends
Spending time with loved ones is a great way to clear your mind and boost your mood. Social isolation is a huge contributor to chronic stress, so it’s important to make time for friends and family. If you don’t have much free time, try to call or text a friend at least once per week. If you’re comfortable opening up to a loved one about your stress, talking with them about what you’re going through could be very helpful. Even if they can’t offer a solution, you might feel better just by expressing yourself.
6. Sleep Hygiene
Your sleeping habits may be directly linked to stress management. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, you won’t have the mental energy to deal with stress. Try to prioritize your sleep routine as much as possible. Avoid screens right before bed so that you fall asleep faster, and follow the same sleeping and waking schedule on weekdays and weekends.
Chronic or extreme stress can be difficult to overcome on your own. If you just can’t shake off your stress no matter what you try, therapy may be your best option. Counseling can help you identify the root causes of your stress and develop coping skills so that you feel more mentally and emotionally prepared to take on stressful situations. With the help of your therapist, you can practice relaxation exercises to calm down during moments of anxiety. You can also find ways to adjust your daily routine so that you’re not facing so much constant stress.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides stress management counseling for clients struggling with chronic stress or anxiety. If you’re looking for stress management therapy in Beverly Hills, you can contact us today.