A Modern Perspective on Mental Health
By Peggy Defazio LPC
Coastal Counseling & Consulting
Stress Management Strategies
Stress is a part of everyone’s life and it’s not all bad. Good stress, or eustress, stimulates our brains to help us be creative and improve our mood. Bad stress, or distress, causes all sorts of problems for us – physical, mental, and emotional.
So, what makes a situation a good stress situation instead of a bad stress situation?
Remember when we were talking about holiday stress a few months back where you had the wrong brand of rolls for the family dinner? You stressed out because you thought the dinner was ruined. It wasn’t the rolls that caused your stress, but your interpretation of the situation. You had told yourself that having the wrong brand of rolls was horrible, so you interpreted the situation as bad. If, however, you had interpreted having the wrong brand of rolls as nothing major, you would not have stressed about it at all.
Of course, it’s easy to say to interpret situations from a positive point of view – this way you only experience good stress. Unfortunately, life presents us with situations that no matter how you look at it causes bad stress, what do you do then? Thankfully, there are lots of things all of us can do to help us manage bad stress so it doesn’t cause our bodies harm.
Here are a few common stress management strategies:
* Take time to relax each day – just sit and do nothing for a few minutes … no guilt allowed!
* Eat healthy food – as much as your budget will allow
* Exercise – even just a little bit; getting outside to exercise is even better
* Breathe deeply and slowly – while you think of something enjoyable
* Reduce the amount of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, caffeine, and sugar you put in your body – definitely not what I to hear!
* Take time to interact with others, especially people you care about
* Think about all you have to be grateful for in your life – maybe while you breathe deeply?
* Practice a form of “mind-body” activity – yoga and meditation are common forms and can be easier to learn than you might think
Good luck and remember to be patient with yourself – stressing about improving your stress management strategies doesn’t help you reduce your stress!
Until next time.