Wind Down Wednesday : Recognizing 5 Stress Signals

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Our body can signal us when we are stressed.  Are you able to recognize them?  Learn how to recognize the top 5 stress signals and what you can do to work towards relieving your stress. 

1) Insomnia– If you go to bed thinking or worrying, the physiological response is adrenaline, which is activating and interferes with getting sleep or achieving restful sleep.  

How to wind down. Create a routine for winding down and putting your mind to rest.  Before bed, swim, walk, mediate, drink warm milk or herbal tea (no caffeine), take a hot bath or choose to think of peaceful, pleasant thoughts. 

2) Headaches and sore muscle – When your body is in high gear, you are continuously on alert to respond and body tension accumulates.  If tension is chronic, the results can be muscle soreness and rigidity.  A tight neck, upper back and shoulders can lead to an headache.  

How to wind down. Stretching and light exercise every couple of hours throughout the day may help relieve the symptoms. 

3) Stomach problems – When you are stressed, acid is secreted in the stomach, which can cause heartburn, stomach cramps or other digestive problems.  Over the counter antacid may alleviate the symptoms, but don’t ignore the real culprit of irritation : stress, caffeine, smoking, alcohol, poor nutrition, inadequate sleep and relaxation or spicy food. 

How to wind down.  Use physical activity, deep breathing and self-soothing activities to calm your digestive track.  Be sure not to ignore these symptoms and consult with your PCM. 

4) Addictive Behaviors – Efforts to escape chronic stress by drinking too much, increase smoking, overeating, overspending, gambling or other negative patterns that lead to increased stress.

How to wind down. Find helpful and healthful ways to deal with stress.  Seek a local qualified professionals therapist in your area. 

5) Low Sex Drive – While this can be a signal of stress of fatigue, a variety of other issues need to be explore with your PCM such as high blood pressure, decreased testosterone, excessive salt consumption, excessive alcohol use, certain drugs and disease that may cause hieghten blood pressure in some people.  

While there is no way to prevent stress, we can control how we respond and handle it.  Try not to let stress build up, deal with stress when it strikes, think positively, visualize yourself solving your stressors, set limits and time frame to when you will manage your stressor and lastly, be honest about what you have control over and what you do.  Take this Wednesday to wind down and move towards recognizing your stressors, physical stressors and make moves to manage the stress.   

Winding Down, 

Shayla Peterson, LCSW
Source : Therapist’s guide to clinical intervention : 1-2-3’s of treatment planning (2nd edition) by Sharon L. Johnson

I declare today to be STRESS FREE, join me

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There is so much to be stressed about, but there’s so many other things I rather fill my mind with today.  I understand that stress is a normal response to a state of unbalance.  Signs that I look for when my stress is unbalanced are in the areas of cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral.  Our brains may react by experiencing increased forgetfulness, poor concentration, increased worrying, poor judgement and seeing only the negative.  The emotional aspect of stress may present with moodiness,  feelings of being overwhelmed, isolation, difficult to relax and increased irritability.   Physical signs of stress may include aches & pains, nausea, easily catches colds, decreased sex drive and increased heart rate.  Behavioral signs may appear in the form of less/more eating, too much/too little sleep, isolation, neglecting responsibilities and using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to relax.   These various symptoms if not addressed can lead to increased mental health concerns as the majority of these symptoms parallel with depression and anxiety.  In efforts to increase mental wellness and prevent further stress, make an active effort to reduce stress today to improve overall mental health.   These are the ten things I chose to use today to support my mission towards eliminating stress:

  1. I will participate in some form of meditation or relaxation (4-square breathing, progressive relaxation, visualization and/or stretching)
  2. I will eat balanced meal (at least 5 servings of fruits, veggies and 8 glasses of water)
  3. I review how I typically think about stress.  Explore my “what ifs”? catastrophic thoughts? discounting the positives?
  4. I will take a break when I need one (I will leave the office for lunch).
  5. I will manage my time by planning my day so that it doesn’t run me.
  6. I will take about my troubles with close friend and end the conversation with a positive story.
  7. I will live a balanced life today.  After work, I will make time for my hobby, me-time, a social event or watch a movie with the family.
  8. I will develop a realistic goal and break it up into smaller realistic goals and then break them up into even smaller realistic goals.
  9. I will evaluate possible future stress and identify what can I do to reduce it.
  10. I will ask for help.  I will get in touch with my therapist if I’m having difficulties getting through my STRESS-FREE day.

Feel Free to use these ten ways to have a STRESS FREE day.  Note: Please do not feel disappointed if your day is not completely stress-free by using these tips, if you reduced one of your signs or decreased your symptoms of stress, you have made strides.  Let’s Celebrate our progress!!!

Balancing the Stress,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW