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What is Stress? & What to do About It?

Authored by: Jean Beauchesne, MS, LPC, NCC, CSAC, CCATP, ASPCS

If I were to ask you to define stress, what would you say? Would you label it either good or bad? How does it affect you? And what would you do to help yourself? 

According to the World Health Organization “stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall well-being”.

We are designed to experience stress and then react to that stress when our body produces physical and mental responses. These stress responses help our mind and body adjust to new situations.

Types of Stress Challenges Include

Daily challenges are those everyday annoyances such as rushing to get out of the house in the morning, lack of sleep, traffic, work problems, homework, chores, limited free time, and arguments with a partner. These types of daily challenges can be positive when we are kept alert, motivated to do more, and our instincts are kept awake to avoid negative consequences.

Major life changes are important events, both positive and negative, that require significant adjustment, such as birth of a child, separation or divorce, new job, death of a loved one, moving, and a major illness or injury.

Life circumstances are permanent or long-term circumstances that make life more difficult, such as poverty or financial problems, disability, chronic illness, conflictual relationships, values that conflict with culture, discrimination, job dissatisfaction, and living somewhere unsafe.

Challenges exist when the stress is so high that we are not capable of producing those physical and mental stress responses. This is due to a lack of relief and periods of relaxation, such as those in major life changes and especially in negative life circumstances. 

How Do We Produce Healthy Physical and Mental Responses?

Our mindset determines our thoughts and our thoughts are our reality. We choose if our thoughts are going to be helpful or not. I didn’t say it was easy, but rather a necessity. 

So, how do we get our bodies to produce physical and mental responses? The answer is with daily self-care and daily coping strategies. These are not luxuries, but rather necessities that need to be scheduled into everyone’s daily calendar. 

Daily Uplifts (Daily Self-Care) are positive experiences that make you happy, such as: enjoying eating a good meal, spending time with friends, engaging in leisure activities, and spending time in nature.

Daily Coping Strategies are positive actions that help to reduce or manage stress and other uncomfortable emotions including exercise, talking about challenges, self-care, journaling, and relaxation techniques.

Self-care is anything that helps you to feel that you have value and worth, such as: taking care of your body, getting enough sleep, participating in regular physical activity, eating healthy, and taking time to relax and recharge. 

Daily self-care and daily coping skills are protective factors that protect you from stress such as:

  • If you overthink, then journal.
  • If you’re tired, then nap.
  • If you’re stressed, then go for a walk.
  • If you’re anxious, then meditate.
  • If you’re sad, then exercise.
  • If you’re angry, then listen to music.
  • And if you’re burnt out, then read.

Need Help?  

If you find that you cannot manage your stress and notice a lack in your daily functioning, please call and schedule an appointment with a mental health provider, who can teach you to learn new skills, unlearn negative skills, and relearn using alternative skills.

Schedule a free phone consultation with Total Health Psychotherapist Jean Beauchesne: 262-492-7879.

Happy Mental Health!

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