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Mental Health ResourcesStress

What is stress? The definition varies depending on the expert. Most will agree it's the physical, mental, emtional strain or tension felt within the body. Another definition is, "a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize." Not all stress is harmful but stress (good or bad) does follow us everywhere, so let's learn how to manage it with the resources below.

Stress Symptoms

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Feeling out of control

  • Worrying, obsessing

  • Irritability, frustration

  • Mood swings, crying spells

  • Boredom, lack of interest

  • Feeling helpless/inadequate

  • Guilt

  • Emotional numbing

  • Overly sensitive

  • Fear/anxiety

  • Sense of hopelessness

  • Hypervigilance

  • Muscle tightness

  • Headaches

  • Quick heart/breathing rate

  • Fatigue

  • Appetite/weight change

  • Stomach pain, cramps

  • Underactivity/over activity

  • Digestive problems

  • Nightmares

  • Startled reactions

  • "Out of it"

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Memory disturbance

  • Racing/repetitive thoughts

  • Misunderstanding others

  • Difficulty solving problems

  • Flashbacks of the events

  • Preoccupation with the event

  • Lowered attention span

  • Violent fantasies

  • Excessive screen time

  • Increased substance use

  • Change in appetite

  • Short temper

  • Increased nervous habits

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Social withdrawal/isolation

  • Loss of sexual drive

Stress Resources

Ways to Reduce Stress

  • Eliminate unnecessary stressors from your life/schedule

  • Limit energy and time devoted to highly stressful activities, relationships, thoughts

  • Use time management and organization skills to decrease excess stress

  • Journal to get stressors down on paper and off your mind

  • Get plenty of physical activity and movement to release stress and tension

  • Be aware of your reactions, noticing ways your reactions may be amplifying stress

  • Take breaks to recharge

  • Talk to people about your feelings, fears, and uncertainties

  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with regular meals;

  • Do not attempt to numb your emotional pain with drugs or alcohol

Reframe Stress

  • Remember, stress is normal and experienced by everyone

  • Differentiate between productive and unproductive stress

  • Recognize ways that stress keeps you energized and motivated

  • Be curious about reactions to stress, don't avoid the feelings

  • Instead of getting upset about your body's reactions to stress, recognize them as normal, and appreciate what your body does for you

  • Give yourself permission to temporarily fall apart, feel rotten, and cry

Ways to Cope

  • Soaking in the bathtub

  • Planning a vacation

  • Looking through old pictures

  • Going to a movie

  • Jogging, walking

  • Listening to music

  • Lying in the sun

  • Volunteering

  • Reading magazines

  • Doing a puzzle

  • Doing chores around the house

  • Dancing

  • Getting a massage

  • Taking care of plants

  • Going swimming

  • Doodling

  • Exercising

  • Playing a game

  • Going camping

  • Singing in the house

  • Practicing religion/spirituality

  • Going to the beach

  • Painting

  • Going for a drive

  • Doing arts and crafts

  • Learning a musical instrument

  • Making a card or gift for someone

  • Cooking

  • Going hiking

  • Going out to dinner

  • Joining a book club

  • Gardening

  • Going to a play or concert

  • Making lists

  • Playing with animals

    How to Help Those You Care About

    • Encourage your friend to talk to you about how he/she is feeling.

    • Don't assume a gender difference in how trauma is handled.

    • Tell your friend how you feel; that you are sorry he/she has been hurt.

    • Remind your friend that these confusing reactions are normal.

    • Refrain from trying to make things better. Be willing to say nothing. Just being there may be enough.

    • If it seems appropriate, offer to make an appointment to go with him/her to the first counseling appointment..

    • Don't be afraid to ask how a friend is doing, and if he/she answers be prepared to listen.

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