Stress and Stress-Management
This post is coming a little late because life.
Stress seems like a good follow-up post to self-care considering these two topics are commonly associated.
Stress is no minor issue. In our society, stress and exhaustion are almost worn as badges of honour. If we're not stressed and exhausted, are we doing enough? Well, if we are stressed and exhausted, it's likely that we're doing too much of some things and not enough of others.
Depending on the source, studies have found that anywhere between 60-90% of doctor visits are stress-related. Even if we go with the lower end of that range, that's a significant amount. And how severe do you think the stress or stress-related illness has to be for someone to go to their doctor?
Stress affects us in many different ways. Stress and anxiety are great friends who like to hang out together; PTSD is a stress disorder (it's in the name), stress contributes to depression, and it can affect sleep, appetite, weight, energy, mood, relationships, etc. Stress can result in muscle pain and injury, headaches, and so many other things I could go on and on.
Stress can lead to burnout which is a psychological energy that can be difficult to recover from and become chronic.
The effects of stress may not show up right away. Perhaps one of the reasons people claim to thrive on stress or deny being stressed.
Now, we don't want to be entirely without stress. In fact, there's good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Most often, when referring to stress people are talking about distress.
It's unlikely that we'll be without distress (life, man) but it can be managed. Now we come back to doing too much of some things and too little of others. Determining what's too much and of what things and what's too little and of what things is going to be different for everyone.
A task to begin this may be to write a list of things you do in an average day, draw an up arrow beside those that are stressful, a down arrow beside those that relieve stress (making note of unhealthy things such as alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc.), and a 0 next to things that are neutral.
In their book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily and Amelia Nagoski discuss stress, the stress cycle, and key ways to releasing stress. It's worth a read.
Stress-management tools that they discuss are:
Doing something creative
These tools are most beneficial if done regular and not just as needed.
If you're interested, they've been interviewed on several podcasts. One that I regularly suggest is Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris episode 409: For the Burned Out, Fried, and Exhausted (Jan. 5/22).