Feeling stressed can be diverse in its effect. In one instance, it can feel like a little nagging sensation that tugs at your subconscious. In another, it can turn your day upside down, leaving you crippled and unable to handle what the day brings. Stress has many faces, and it can appear at any time. Beyond the immediate feelings of restlessness, anxiety, or worry is the importance of taking care of one’s mental health.
Taking care of your mental health while stressed is essential for overcoming it. It may seem troubling, difficult, if not impossible, at times. Stress is a mental health symptom that indicates a current struggle. The struggle may increase or extend to worsening mental health problems.
Why Stress Needs to be Addressed
The problem with stress is that as it grows or persists, it can bring worsening physical and mental symptoms with it. Stress can seep its way into many corners of personal well being and health. Some might assume that stress is altogether normal.
Surely, we can all expect a certain degree of stress in our lives from our families, to our jobs, finances, social circles, etc. Where is the line? How can you know if you’re managing your stress effectively and preventing it from becoming a larger issue? Pay attention to the physical and mental side effects, and prioritize caring for your mental health with intention.
How Stress Finds Its Way into the Body
Understanding when stress begins to become an issue is a challenge. Stress physically inhibits its own detection by the way it impacts the mind and body.
The stress hormone cortisol is often the root of how it shows up. Unfortunately, once cortisol is released and creates further issues, it can facilitate even more stress.
Being mindful of how stress can affect the body will make it easier to understand when symptoms arise, and therefore when to step in and work against them.
The health of your digestive system and stress are deeply connected. When cortisol releases into the body, it can cause things like sugar cravings. If indulged in, these cravings can cause damage to the system of bacteria that work in the digestive system for processing. These bacteria influence many things in the body, such as skin, sleep, and mental health. It may play out as gastrointestinal complications such as diarrhea or upset stomach. Though, the range of how stress and the digestive system interact is extensive. Therefore, other symptoms outside of digestive may occur.
The release of cortisol can trigger the skin to behave adversely. For example, it may cause glands to produce more oil, which can lead to the onset of acne.
Stress and sleep issues tend to feed off one another. Lack of sleep can cause stress, and stress can cause a lack of or lesser quality of sleep.
Feelings of stress may lead to decreased mental clarity. Feelings of cloudiness may arise around decision-making or coping skills. It can lead to other mental health issues like clinical anxiety or depression.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Taking care of mental health while stressed can minimize its overall impact. It can help to prevent adverse symptoms, along with strengthening coping mechanisms. The ability for stress to affect a person is not in the magnitude of the stress itself, but rather, how well a person can recover from it.
Try these strategies for staying on top of your mental health while dealing with stress.
Eat to Balance
Because stress can have such an effect on the digestive system, strategic eating may help to counteract its impact. Eating nutritious foods that feed the good bacteria in your body will help to fight cortisol production. Craving poor diet choices can lead to feeling fatigued, weight gain, and even worse. Instead, eat a balanced diet that incorporates plenty of superfoods and keep up with water intake.
Exercise to Alleviate
Keeping the body moving and blood pumping is a strong defense against stress. Endorphins and positive neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine fight off mental struggle while aiding in the immediate reduction of stress.
Affirm Yourself Away
Self-affirmations are a way to bring feelings of stress to the center. When stress begins to build, affirmations step in as the talk “off the ledge,” if you will. Initiating affirmations as a way to stop stress from taking a toll can be empowering. Stressed thoughts can run rampant in the mind, having you draw all of sorts of conclusions that may not even be. Assuring yourself of facts removes the weight of emotions associated with them. Moving stress to the side with affirmations gets easier with every attempt. It also serves as a way for you to mark and identify when you’re stressed.
Check-in with Yourself
Learning to check-in and self-assess is major for maintaining mental health. Imagine going through life, swayed by whatever comes, unaware of when it’s even happening. Avoid this form of self-sabotage by making an active habit of asking yourself, “How am I doing?” and not judging yourself for it. Understanding when you’re feeling down is the fast track to knowing why, which is an expressway (if you choose) to resolution. If you feel you’re unable to check in with yourself, enlist the help of a trusted friend. Always consider that there are mental health professionals that are equipped to help.
If you’re feeling stressed, it may serve you well to avoid more stress. Then, you can work with what you have to reduce it. There are always methods to stop stress from taking over with a little extra effort.