Updated: Mar 19
Adulting is no fun! When I was younger I couldn’t wait to grow up and make my own money, have my own stuff and be responsible for myself. Well now that I’m there and I have all those things I just want to be back at my parent’s house where dinner was ready when I got home and I could ask my parents for money to go out and I didn’t have to worry about how a bill would be getting paid. On top of regular adulting we all have dreams, wishes, etc that are oftentimes put on the back burner so that we can make money! Talk about stressing!
We all know that stress is not healthy and that it can cause some serious damage to our physical and mental health. But how do we know what to attribute to stress and how can we even begin to manage it? Here are some signs to help you identify when stress starts to become overwhelming and also some quick tips on what you can do about it!
Let’s start with somatic complaints. These are pains in the body that we oftentimes ignore if the pain is tolerable or we get used to it.
This can include muscle tension (back, shoulders, neck). Sometimes this can look like stomach aches including constipation (yes that can be related to stress too). Headaches – definitely pay attention to this if it happens chronically. Sleep (nightmares, trouble falling or staying asleep) and appetite (eating too much or too little) related disturbances can be a sign of stress.
Then there can be emotional expressions of stress that can be unhealthy. There are those of us who don’t express anything. “I’m fine! Stop asking!”…meanwhile they are holding on to stresses of the day or the kids, etc. The other type of emotional expression that happens is the volcano explosion! The verbal outburst of all your thoughts, feelings, frustrations come out all at once on whoever happens to be near you.
Are any of these things speaking to you? If you’ve experienced any of these behaviors try these stress relieving tips.
1. Pay attention to your body! If you’re experiencing any chronic pain or discomfort don’t ignore it! Go to your doctor and rule out medical causes. If you’re medically all clear you can try progressive muscle relaxation as a good way to combat physical tension. Start from head to toe and constrict/relax all of your muscles. Lift your eyebrows as high as they can go, hold (3-5 seconds) and release. Do the same with your eyes – close your eyes as tight as you can, hold (3-5 seconds) and release. Move from your facial muscles to your shoulders, arms, stomach, legs and finally your toes.
2. Change your routine! Do something different, something that makes you happy! Exercising in the morning, changing your diet to incorporate some healthier foods, try meditating or doing yoga, listen to music.
3. Want a healthy way to express yourself? Try journaling. Yes this is old school but there are some way cool apps that can help you capture how you are feeling. Whatever you choose to write doesn’t have to be in complete sentences; its not a school assignment. Write song lyrics, poems or even draw! This is a great way to organize your thoughts or say the things that you can’t say out loud. The other helpful thing about journaling is that you can share what you want out of the journal or keep it yourself.
4. Lastly if your symptoms persist or your symptoms are impacting your ability to function: either socially, professionally or personally don’t be afraid to seek mental help. A therapist (like me!) can help you determine if there’s a psychological problem that needs to be addressed and/or provide services that can help you adjust better to your life stressors. There’s no reason to suffer through this alone, reach out for help today!
Stress lives but you don’t have to live with it!