Stress and anxiety aren’t synonymous, but they can exacerbate or interact with one another. Anxiety disorders are among some of the most common mental health conditions, where stress is something that everyone faces. So, how do stress and anxiety intersect? How can you protect and care for your health?
Stress has a number of long and short-term implications that negatively impact the mind and the body. Known short-term implications of stress include but aren’t limited to headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, GI distress, and trouble sleeping, where implications of prolonged stress include but aren’t limited to early mortality, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and yes, an increased risk of depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. Additionally, for those who already have an anxiety disorder, stress a known trigger that can worsen or increase symptoms. Not all stress is bad, and experiencing stress from time to time is expected, but if it’s an ongoing concern, it’s not something to push to the side or ignore. The good news is that it’s possible to manage stress.
Here are some tips for stress management:
● Prioritize a work-life balance. Chronic stress in the workplace is a known battle for many and making sure that you have a solid work-life balance can help. Taking a look at your schedule and fitting in time to de-stress and disengage from your work is important.
● Take a look at your sleep schedule. Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental well-being. If you find that you aren’t sleeping enough or having trouble winding down and getting to sleep at night, implement sleep hygiene practices that can support you in getting enough shut-eye. If you’re doing everything you can to support yourself in getting quality sleep, such as limiting caffeine and avoiding blue light before bed, contact your doctor.
● Find an activity to turn to for stress relief. An exercise is an excellent tool for stress management, so taking the time to implement a form of physical activity that makes your body and mind feel good is powerful for many. You might also consider setting aside time for meditation, journaling, art, or other activities that you enjoy. For those who struggle to slow down or find it difficult to do something for the sole purpose of enjoyment, learning to do so is often highly advantageous.
● Socialize. Make sure that you’re taking the time for positive, uplifting connections in your life. This could mean reaching out to friends and loved ones, joining a class or group where you can connect with others, or both. Social relationships are a known stress-reliever, and spending time on social connections is known to protect your mental and physical well-being.
● Identify triggers. If there’s something causing unnecessary stress in your life, identifying what it is and learning how to navigate it is vital. Self-talk and mindfulness are both excellent tools for navigating triggers for stress. If you’re struggling to navigate a trigger for stress in your life, make sure to talk with a mental health professional who can help.
Again, while they can co-exist, anxiety and stress are not the same things. Anxiety disorders are challenging to live with, but they’re highly treatable, and if you have an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are chronic mental health conditions that impact people of all ages and backgrounds. If you find that you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety such as excessive worry, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, social isolation or withdrawal from others, or difficulty concentrating, it’s important to reach out to a medical or mental health provider.
Therapy is advantageous for anyone who wants to improve their mental health. People attend therapy for many different reasons, including but not limited to life stress management, mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, relationship or familial issues, grief, loss, and more. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-researched form of therapy that is known to help those facing stress and anxiety disorders. A licensed therapist can help you learn to navigate stressors, symptoms of anxiety, challenging life circumstances, and more. Therapy is a safe space to talk about anything that’s on your mind, and sometimes, having a non-judgmental ear to turn to in a confidential environment such as therapy is a game-changer in and of itself. To find a therapist, you can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance to see who they cover near you, use an online directory, conduct a web search, or sign up for a reputable online therapy website MyTherapist with licensed professionals. Whether you see someone online or in your local area, you deserve to get the support you need and take care of your well-being, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
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