As we recognize Stress Awareness in April it is important to have a deeper understanding of stress and how it can affect our overall well-being.
According to Eliza Hoffman, Integrated Services Specialist at Yellowbrick, “Emerging adults are stressed- out. At Yellowbrick we guide emerging adults from the brink of distress to engagement with eustress , the stress that inspires us to improve our lives and reach our goals. The demands of education, career, and relationships alone cause significant stress on a young person’s body and mind. Add to that more challenges, such as a mental illness, addiction, or harmful behavior, and a young person can reach a disastrous point of distress.”
Eliza further explains, “Yellowbrick provides a foundation built on mindfulness to help a person recognize when they are stressed and how it affects their body and mind. From there, emerging adults develop skills to reduce, manage, and optimize stress in recovery and beyond.”
Stress is how our brain and body respond to a demand or challenge. It can be brought on by the pressures of daily responsibilities, a negative change in life, or a traumatic event, which can also include temporary emotional and physical symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , there are five key things that everyone should know about stress.
1. Stress affects everyone. Everyone experiences stress at some point, but some cope with it more effectively than others. There are different types of stress, all carrying physical and mental health risks.
2. Not all stress is bad. In a dangerous or life-threatening situation, stress is a signal that prepares the body to face a threat or flee to safety. In a non-dangerous situation, it can be motivation for some people.
3. Prolonged stress can be harmful. Over time, prolonged stress can take its toll on the body through immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive issues. Additionally, chronic stress can increase the risk of depression and anxiety.
4. Stress can be managed. In a dangerous or life-threatening situation, stress is a signal that prepares the body to face a threat or flee to safety. In a non-dangerous situation, it can be motivation for some people.
5. Help is available. When stress leads to the point of feeling suicidal or overwhelmed, professional help may be needed. Seeking treatment is the first step in learning to cope with chronic stress.
How can you manage stress?
According to the Mayo Clinic , there are a few ways that we can manage and minimize our everyday stress.
- Move your body. Any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever, as it helps you to pump up the body’s feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance the sense of well-being. Physical activity also helps to refocus the mind on movements that can help to improve mood.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy is an important part of taking care of the mind and the body. Consider adding a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to the daily menu.
- Meditate and practice yoga. Meditation and the posture and controlled breathing of yoga can be used as a time to focus on calming and balancing the mind and the body, benefiting emotional and physical well-being.
- Laugh more. While laughter may not cure all ailments, it can help you to feel better. A good laugh can lighten the mental load and cause positivephysical changes in the body.
- Connect with others. Stress can often cause irritability, which can lead to isolation. Social connections are a good stress reliever because they offer distraction and support.
- Learn to say no. While it may seem that saying yes to everything keeps the peace, it can cause an internal conflict by leading to stress, anger, and resentment. Learning to say no and learning to delegate can ease stress and lead to internal calm and peace.
- Get enough sleep. Stress can often make sleeping difficult, but sleep is the time for your body and brain to recharge. Sleepcan affect your mood, energy level, concentration, and overall functioning.
- Keep a journal. Journaling thoughts and feelings is a positive way to release emotions. Write whatever comes to mind by letting thoughts flow.
While there are many ways to ease added stress and anxiety, sometimes it proves difficult to cope with the added challenges. A professional therapist or counselor may be needed to help identify the sources of stress and to help teach new coping skills.
At Yellowbrick, we recognize and address the unique challenges of the emerging adult population through programs that emphasize multi-specialty evaluation, therapeutic residences, research-based strategies, and life-skills interventions. Our treatment philosophy is guided by research findings that show that enduring success is facilitated by working alongside individuals coping with actual life experiences in “real time,” with a professional presence supporting the development of skills required to navigate the challenges of life.