Pressing through the Stress

Guest Blogger: Amaris Watson, MSW

Most recently, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a childhood friend. During conversation, we discussed our lives and career paths. He began to tell me about the stressors that come along with his career including but not limited to long hours, lack of viable resources and unpredictable events He expressed that the continuous pressures from his career often leave him feeling overwhelmed, tired, anxious and frequently stressed. We then begin to discuss stress, its signs and ways to effectively deal with it.

Stress is inevitable. It is our body’s natural response to change and can be defined as emotional and mental tension that ignites as a result of demanding circumstances. These circumstances for many of us quite often arise in both our personal and professional lives. Forty-eight percent of Americans report stress has negatively impacted both their private and professional life (American Institute of Stress, 2014). Experiences of loss, pressure, hurt, or unexpected events may leave us feeling extremely tensed and anxious. A number of people experience tension as a result of pressures within both their home and work environment. According to the American Psychological Association, 65% of Americans reported work as their top stressor. Thirty-three percent of Americans are living with an extreme degree of stress. In addition, 48% of Americans stay up at night as a result of feeling stressed (American Institute of Stress, 2014).

It’s essential to recognize the signs of stress to alleviate its long and short term consequences. Signs of stress include but are not limited to headaches, difficulty falling and remaining asleep, muscle tension, fatigue, chest pain, loss of appetite or comfort eating, forgetfulness, and irritability (American Psychological Association, 2014).

If you’re feeling stressed, here are six steps that may help ease your tension:

  • Identify Stressors. Recognize your body’s response to stress. Record details of stressful occurrences in your life and your response to them. Keeping track of stressful events and your response can help you discover your triggers of stress and reactions to them.
  • Develop Boundaries. Create a boundary between your professional and personal life. For instance, schedule specific blocks of time for work and avoid completing work past that time. Establishing boundaries can help ease stress that results from your professional life.
  • Take a Break. Take time to relax and rejuvenate. Utilize your vacation time or schedule weekly time to focus on pleasurable activities (e.g. reading or playing games).
  • Exercise. Participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Exercise can help improve your mood and alleviate stress.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques. Practice deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques (e.g. yoga). Take time daily to purposely focus your mind on a specific activity (e.g. savoring a meal) to help ease stress.
  • Seek Support. Seeking mental health support may be beneficial in helping you cope with pressure from all realms of life. Connecting with friends and family who can provide emotional support may also be helpful in alleviating stress.
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About Dr. Michael A. Lindsey

Michael Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH is an Associate Professor at the Silver School of Social Work, New York University. He also holds a faculty appointment in the Center for School Mental Health, School of Medicine (Department of Psychiatry) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr. Lindsey’s research and mental health practice experiences examine the prohibitive factors that lead to unmet mental health need among vulnerable, Black youth with depression and other serious mental health needs. Dr. Lindsey is developer of the Making Connections Intervention (MCI), a program designed to prepare adolescents to be positively involved in mental health services for depression, anxiety and behavioral problems. He can be reached by email at Michael.Lindsey@nyu.edu. You may follow him on Twitter at the handle, @DrMikeLindsey. View all posts by Dr. Michael A. Lindsey

One response to “Pressing through the Stress

  • shannonlistens

    I love this because self-care is essential, especially when working in a helping field. I wrote something similar on my blog and I basically pleaded with Counselors to stop being mean to themselves. Us clinicians rarely take our own advice and I’m glad that you are acknowledging the different ways that we can take care of ourselves. Very well written! I look forward to future posts.

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