How to Cope With Short-Term Stress
When stress sharpens your focus or motivates you to work harder, it can be beneficial. However, stress has proven to bring a range of adverse health effects, from muscle tension and insomnia to an elevated risk of stroke. It can also weaken your immune system and worsen existing health conditions like depression and anxiety. If you experience frequent stress, you can take steps to eliminate its influences on your life.
Your Innate Stress Response
Stress is an evolutionary survival mechanism that helped early humans avoid threats and determine when to escape dangerous situations. A built-in alarm system in your body triggers the fight-or-flight response, which primarily involves the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Once the perceived risk has passed, your hormone levels, heart rate and blood pressure will drop back to their usual levels.
Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of all stressors, but you can look for ways to lower it. Start by identifying your stress triggers. When you feel anxious or overwhelmed, take a moment to write yourself a note in a journal. Include all the details of what is causing your stress, including its severity, how you reacted and what you did to deal with it. Reviewing these journal entries can help you pinpoint what causes tension and start taking steps to handle it better.
You can feel better if you proactively develop healthy coping stress-management mechanisms. Try these ideas to determine which ones work for you.
Manage Your Time
If daily responsibilities are weighing you down, change the way you prioritize your daily tasks. Many people find it helps to write a daily to-do list and keep it somewhere they can see it as they work. When you finish something, you get the satisfaction of crossing it out. Having a written to-do list might also ensure you don’t get distracted by multitasking.
Learn to Say No
If your journaling exercise makes you realize that specific people are triggering your anxiety, set healthy boundaries for yourself, and be sure to define the consequences of failing to respect them. Remember, being assertive and standing up for yourself and your values isn’t rude. Tactfully communicating your opinions to others will improve your relationships.
The negativity of stress can be self-perpetuating, contributing to an internal monologue that primarily consists of defeatism and pessimism. Spend some time tuning into these thoughts and actively work to counteract them with positivity. Or, as part of your journaling exercises, write down your worries and divide them into things you can control and things you can’t. Then, work on letting go of the circumstances beyond your control.
Ask for Help
Keeping all your stress bottled up inside can make you feel worse. Reach out to your trusted friends, family members and work colleagues about your needs and concerns. Seek counseling from a professional therapist. There’s no shame in expressing complicated emotions when you need to let them out.
Find Ways to Relax
Exercising, volunteering, spending time outside, meditating and doing hobbies you enjoy are all excellent ways to take your mind off the stressors in your life and learn to live in the moment. You can also make healthier lifestyle choices, such as eating a balanced diet and taking steps to curb the amount of alcohol and drugs you use.
Treating Addiction and Anxiety
Disruptive issues like insomnia, upset stomachs and muscle tension can leave you searching for anything that can relieve your stress and help calm you down, like drinking and drugs. However, these substances can make your anxiety symptoms worse, compounding your problems over time. Drug and alcohol misuse will gradually erode your physical and mental well-being, worsening your stress while contributing to a substance use disorder.
Many clients arrive at Beach House after struggling with a dual diagnosis for years and finally admitting they need help to break the cycle of addiction and stress. With evidence-based treatment, you can learn strategies for coping with anxiety and living a healthy, sober life. To learn more about recovering in Florida or what sets Beach House apart as one of the nation’s leading treatment centers, connect with us today.