Catholic Health’s Casey Beauman, LMSW, shares helpful information for recognizing and coping with stress.
What is stress?
Stress is something that most of us can confidently say we experience occasionally or regularly. We look around our workplace and homes to find that we are all navigating stress on personal, professional, political and national levels.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines stress as the physiological or psychological response to internal or external stressors involving changes that affect nearly every body system and influence how people feel and behave. Stress accompanies most aspects of life, whether big or small, positive or negative.
Anxiety, sadness, and anger are the most common emotions associated with prolonged stress.
How does stress look in our lives?
Stress influences our feelings and how we behave. Stress can appear like isolation from friends and family and procrastination on easy and complex tasks. It looks like falling deeper into vices or habits we cannot shake, such as overindulging in food.
Due to the elevated levels of cortisol produced, stress can also look like the headaches, high blood pressure and skin conditions that seem to evolve in our lives over time.
How can we get back in control of our stress?
Ten tips to help manage your stress:
Tip 1: Give yourself a break from social media and the news. A constant stream of negative information can promote ongoing stress.
Tip 2: Spend the end of each day reflecting on three good things that happened. Encourage your family and friends to do this with you. In addition to promoting emotional resilience, this simple act can help strengthen positive thinking and gratitude.
Tip 3: Take self-care breaks intermittently throughout your day, like taking a short walk or watching a funny video. Encourage your family, friends and children to do the same. Use your phone alarm clock to keep you accountable for these scheduled breaks.
Tip 4: Stay connected with your support system.
Tip 5: Reframe your perspective and interpretations of events when needed. Sometimes our distorted thoughts on something lead to exaggerated stress responses.
Tip 6: Develop your positive self-talk. Use difficult times as an excuse to show yourself compassion and encouragement rather than harsh criticism.
Tip 7: Recognize that stress can accompany positive events like having a baby or getting promoted. Don’t make yourself feel bad for experiencing a negative emotion around a happy occasion.
Tip 8: Assert yourself by setting limits on the expectations of others and the expectations you have of yourself. Be okay with setting realistic goals.
Tip 9: Reduce triggers to your stress when and where you can. For example, if figuring out what to cook for dinner is a nightly stressor, develop a meal plan that you can stick to from week to week.
Tip 10: Acclimate yourself to your values and hobbies. Making time to reconnect with activities we enjoy or faith-based organizations can help provide comfort and positive feelings during the most stressful times.
How do I get help?
Catholic Health's dedicated specialists provide behavioral health care services across Long Island to help improve your life and well-being.
Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.