What You Need to Know about Coping with Stress

While not everyone experiences anxiety, it is likely that some form of stress will enter our lives at one point or another. In the American Psychological Association's (APA) annual Stress in America report, it was found that young adults who are a part of Generation Z (ages 15-21) experience the worst mental health issues out of all the generations. With everything shown on the news and social media, people are constantly aware of problems around gun violence, sexual assault and suicide rates. On top of that, financial, school, career pressures can stack up. Learning how to identify these stress factors and when they occur is the first step of taking control to make a positive difference in your life.

As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress presents itself in a wide array of forms ranging from sweaty palms to excessive worrying and lack of concentration. It is important to practice recognizing what stress looks like at a lower level before it leads to larger symptoms.

What are the different types of stress?

What is important to keep in mind is that everyone experiences stress differently. Most people identify stress as something negative, but it can also be a good thing.

Eustress is a beneficial type of stress that is generally associated with nervous feelings. You have probably experienced eustress when you are about to present in class, have an audition or talk to someone you like. This type of stress increases your heart rate as well as adrenaline levels and can even make you perform better.

Chronic stress is sometimes harder to identify and is among the most harmful. If chronic stress is left untreated and pushed aside it can damage mental and physical health. Chronic stress is usually grouped with events that pose major hardships on daily life such as unemployment, unhappy relationships and money issues. Chronic stress can also appear when someone feels hopeless or gives up on seeking out solutions. This can be overwhelming and make you feel like you are not in control. Signs of chronic stress include mood swings, sadness, anger, pushing negative feelings and overall numbness.

Situational stress is a reaction to something you are currently experiencing in your life. This type of stress usually manifests itself with smaller symptoms such as a pounding heart, negative thoughts about the situation, sweaty palms and shortness of breath. This type of stress usually goes away once the stressful situation is over with.

Any kind of stress can manifest itself as anywhere from slight nervousness to physical illness. Prolonged stress can actually cause muscle damage and shortness of breath that leads to chest pain. This is why it is so important to take action and take care of yourself.

Managing Stress

There are many practices to help cope with stress that are easy to incorporate into your everyday routine. It is all about finding what works for you, no matter how long it may take. Remember that something that might help somebody else may not generate the same effects for you. Among the most common de-stress activities include journaling, yoga, meditation, painting, going for a walk and practicing mindfulness. All of these activities are rooted with being present and focusing your mind.

Depending on the cause of your stress, taking action can help significantly rather than ignoring the issue. For example, if you have an upcoming exam, rather than procrastinating and worrying about it, make a study schedule and an action plan. This can help you to feel prepared and you won’t have to worry about cramming last minute. Alternatively, some people need distractions from their stress to take a step back. If this is the case, the mindful activities listed above are the way to go, or whatever works for you.

If recent news stories of what’s going on in the world are adding to your stress, it is important to realize this and take a break to put your health first. Taking a break from the news and social media, whether it be for a day or a month, can help clear your head and help focus on your present life.

Positive affirmation is something you can practice to help cope with your stress. Looking in the mirror and telling yourself everything is going to be okay can help soothe stress and take it down a notch. Sometimes thinking about a stressful situation from the past and remembering how you overcame it can be helpful because you are able to look back on it and remember that you made it through that experience. Actually confronting your stressful thoughts is a way to acknowledge them and let them go.

Sometimes keeping your pounding thoughts trapped inside your head can add to the stress you are experiencing. Talking to a trustworthy friend can let you release pent up thoughts and can be a good way to get someone else’s positive words on the situation. Talking to someone can decrease isolation and release feelings of loneliness as well. Additionally, counseling services at school are a resource you shouldn’t be afraid to use. Many colleges have drop in hours where you can go and talk to a trustworthy adult to relieve stress and find tailored ways to cope with stress at school.

Successful stress management is all about learning how to take control. Practice realizing when you are experiencing stress and learning ways to help yourself with the situation.

 

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