Stress Awareness

Are you ok? Do you want to take some time for yourself? You may have heard or even asked yourself these questions on occasion. The irony of stress is that it can be confusing to understand but easy to recognize. The general trick is to know that if you are concerned about your level of stress, chances are you are already experiencing stress.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation (WHO, 2023). While stress may have various avenues of cause and effect, we do know how it generally appears in our everyday lives. Signs of stress can be categorized into three major categories: physical, mental, and social. Physical signs include headaches, sore muscles, stomach aches, nervousness, and grinding teeth. Mental signs of stress can include nagging thoughts, agitation, sudden emotional outbursts, irritability, concentration problems, anxiety, and even insomnia. Finally, social signs include increased conflicts with others, social avoidance, losing interest in activities, and avoiding responsibilities at work.

To help us manage stress, we can learn that there are very safe and effective ways to combat the natural stress of everyday life. Let’s review the SEA (STOPE, EVALUATE, ACT) of stress management!  

STOP: One of the best ways to deal with stress is not to immediately react. Slow down and evaluate where you are and what is going on around you. Therapists call this “grounding,” which is a form of staying present and truly looking at where you are in life. This can lead to a needed halt in action to evaluate what may be the root cause of your stress.

EVALUATE: Looking around may lead you to think about what is truly important, your priorities, and your long-term goals. Often, we can begin to see things more clearly and decide that all those “have to” activities are actually “choosing to” activities. Then, we can reorganize life in a way that is more in line with our realistic goals.

ACT: Make conscious efforts to engage in those activities that will reduce, rather than create, stress in your life. Some of these activities include improving sleep, time management, avoiding alcohol and drugs, changing eating habits, focusing on physical health, setting social and emotional boundaries, and engaging in meaningful activities. 

Finding help is the biggest, most important step. The Community Mental Health Hub offers various services to help individuals and families address and recover from trauma, build resiliency, and find hope for the future. For inquiries, please call our intake coordinator at 707.933.4482.

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