How to Get A Handle on Stress

How to get a handle on stress by Athena Laz

How to Get A Handle on Stress

(This Q&A was originally featured in the #AskAthena  Self-Help Column in Cosmopolitan Magazine)

Q:

Hi Athena,

I’m 23 and having a bit of a rough time because my stress levels are so high! Are there any tips that you can give me to help me out?  Thanks, Julia.


A:

Hi Julia,

First off, recognizing that you are having a hard time and reaching out for support is one of the most helpful acts that you can do.  Neuroscientists have found that chronic stress can actually negatively impact long-term changes in brain structure and function, so getting a handle on your stress is so important!   Here are three practical action steps that you can take to help you in this process:

 

Step 1: Review what is causing you stress

 

Gain clarity on what is actually causing you stress. Is it your job, relationship or health? Sometimes stress is caused by factors which we have the power to change (lifestyle choices, finances, screen-time or relationship boundaries). And at other times it’s due to things way beyond our control (due to illness, death or loss). When you gain clarity on what you can and cannot do- you can then take steps to either change your circumstances or move towards acceptance.

There is also difference between acute stress (which is short-term) and chronic-stress (which is long-term and pervasive) and how to go about treating them.  For example: if you are in an abusive relationship , you would be under chronic stress. If you find yourself, in that situation, please empower yourself by exiting the relationship and learning how to maintain healthy boundaries within your future relationships. If on the other hand, your stress is related to a work project that has a hard deadline then you are working with an acute stressor. Then it’s about maximizing your inner resilience whilst you work on that deadline.

 

Step 2: Evaluate what you can do

 

Evaluate how you can help yourself.  That may look like setting some time out to do a meditation (proven to be effective in lowering stress) every morning and at a night before sleeping. Or maybe that means reaching out and speaking to a friend who is empathetic. It can also mean accessing expert help so that a professional can assist you.

 

Step 3: Engage in Physical Activity  

 

In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (division of medicine), researchers proved that consistently engaging in exercise is comparable to taking medication and going to psychotherapy for moderate to mild depression (not for severe depression).  Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones (like cortisol & adrenaline) whilst increase those ‘feel-good’ chemicals like endorphins which act as the body’s own natural pain killers and mood elevators. So do at home yoga or run in the park- just get moving!

Lastly but most importantly self-care is always a must.

Take care,

Athena Laz is the founder of athenalaz.com, where she uses her skill as a licensed psychologist, self-help author & columnist to help others find their inner power.

Connect with me on Instagram here or if you have a question for Athena, e-mail  me here.

Loving You is a self-paced online program by athena lazCLICK-HERE-GIF for athenalaz.com only

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