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Stress Experts Share Tips For Managing Your Mental Health

_Stress is just a daily given. It's everywhere. Stress creeps in at home, work (WORK STRESS KILLS,) in transit (HAVE YOU SEEN 'FALLING DOWN?',) in the shower, in bed, in our own minds in moments of solace. It is not something that is completely unavoidable. It is merely a fact of life we cannot control. We can however control how we cope with it or even utilize it for the greater good. _

Redditor _\_u/heyitsant _*needed some advice for a daily struggle asking *_This week (14-20 May) was mental health awareness week with a focus on stress. How do you cope with stress? Do you have any questions about stress? Realize that you can conquer stress before it conquers you. no joke... stress kills! _

THE LIST IS ENDLESS...

  • I try my best to make sure my physical needs are met: Healthy food, enough water, enough sleep (Unisom helps on those insomnia nights), and enough exercise. Being hungry, dehydrated, tired, or lacking exercise makes any stress seem so much worse!
  • I verbalize why I'm stressed. Sometimes I tell my partner or my brother, sometimes I complain to the internet, sometimes I write in my journal. Being able to give form and words to that feeling of dread makes it seem less intimidating.
  • I take breaks. As an example, I haven't had a day completely off, free of appointments or chores, for months. Tomorrow, I get one! I'm going on a hike rather than trying to catch up on deep cleaning.
  • Stardew Valley. Just hearing the overture makes my shoulders drop and my muscles relax.

THE BASICS...

Being hungry, dehydrated, tired, or lacking exercise makes any stress seem so much worse!

Check, check, check, and check.

I'm working on it though. Thanks for the reminder.

SPEAK UP!

I bottle that crap up and push it down down down down until it becomes a little diamond of concentrated sadness and rage. The more I do it the more diamonds are created and fuse together so that it becomes a sharp and cold stone that sits uncomfortably inside me so that it cuts and chafes on my insides.

Just kidding, I try and talk about the things.

FIND A LOVED ONE.

I talk to my wife mostly. Sometimes though talking about your own problems just keeps your problems floating around. I've found it helps to listen to other people's problems and get some perspective on what's happening around me.

Reaching out to others can help but when it boils down to it... you have to help yourself.

It's difficult. Especially now where everyone on your Facebook and Instagram are clearly having the times of their lives and you can't understand why you aren't happy like them.

Look at your own life and think about what's making you feel down.

Don't try and solve the big thing that is pulling at you. Fix all those little things that you are going to deal with later. You fix the little things and the bigger things will take care of themselves.

THE SILENCE.

Meditation man. I realized a few months ago that smoking pot and getting drunk every night is not a good way to relieve stress so I started forcing myself to meditate for ten minutes every morning before walking to class. I am s*** at meditating, but you don't have to be good at it to benefit from it. All you have to do is make yourself do it.

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!

I recognize the things I can control and the things I can't.

If something I can influence is causing stress, I come up with an action plan. If something I have no or little control over is causing me stress I make sure to spend as little time worrying about it as possible.

Empowerment is my stress reliever. I am empowered to change my own circumstances, I am not a victim.

Also, I garden.

THE GYM? UMMM....

Having a gym membership helps. Yes, I can work out at home, but with a gym membership makes it easier to remember to work out.

EVERYTHING AT ONCE IS NO GOOD.

Selectively not caring about work, money, life in general. Simple to say, very very very hard to do in practice. Took years to master it.

LIVE IN THE MUSIC.

Nothing melts stress away like lifting some heavy weights and blasting some music.

SLEEP AND CAFFEINE!

It depends. Sometimes when I/m too stressed and getting angry about it, I'm taking a nap or grab a coffee and drink it in a quiet place. Helps for me.

DO THE RESEARCH!

Here's a good one that I've reposted from u/s4mh41n a few times:

Stress Management:

Stress is not a feeling, an emotion, a mood. Stop treating it like one. It's a physical thing that happens to your body. It's your body saying _"something is wrong, fix it." _Symptoms of stress/anxiety include things that can be measured by doctors, such as weight gain, lack of sleep, blood pressure issues, acne, hair loss, etc. Many people try to treat stress as a feeling, and do things to make them feel better, like yoga, workout, have sex, go to the gun range, or buy little stress balls that they squeeze when they feel stressed. This is the incorrect way to deal with stress.

Think of stress as financial stress. What is financial stress? You have too much to pay for and not enough money. If you were financially stressed and I told you I could make you feel better about it by selling you a squeeze ball for 20 bucks, would you fall for that garbage? I hope not.

This is how stress stacks up on your life: Imagine a graph. There is an invisible line somewhere on it going straight, horizontally, all the way across. That is your personal _"stress threshold." _Literally everything that you have to do in your life is a stressor. Imagine them as blocks stacking up on top of each other. Some are bigger than others. The closer you get to your threshold, the more stressed you feel. If you do not prevent them from crossing that threshold, you will enter depression, which is your body saying _"screw it, you won't fix it, I'll just shut everything down until it works itself out."_, much like how if you're freezing to death in the woods your body starts shutting down to save the vital organs, but you will still eventually freeze to death anyways. Think of stress as you shivering when it's cold, and depression as your body shutting down to preserve vital organs.

So, this is THE way to manage stress: You manage it. The pilot giving the training said to make a list, either mentally or literally, of EVERYTHING that stresses you out. Next, look at the list and see what you can actually take care of right then and there, and start knocking things off the list. You will literally be removing stress from your life. You ever wonder why people say they feel like their "load is lighter" or "weight has been lifted off their shoulders" after they complete a task? Because it has. Ever wonder why people say they feel good after mowing the lawn, or going to the gym, or whatever? It's because they've actually removed a stress block from their life. They've done something. Often times, people try to manage stress by drinking tea, or doing yoga, or doing things that simulate to their mind that they're accomplishing something, when really they're just tricking their brain into releasing the chemical that it does when you actually get something done. The REAL way is to actually identify the things that stress you out, and REMOVE them from your pile of stressors.

When you make your list, literally write out everything. Pretty much if you think about something and say "Oh crap, I have to do that.", it's a stressor. Everything from brushing your teeth in the morning, to changing that light bulb in the laundry room, to gassing up your car, to studying for that test, to out-processing for that deployment, to going to that job interview, etc etc. Write them down, look at it, and think "Oh shoot, I could just change that lightbulb right now. I could mow the lawn. I could fix that door hinge." Do this and you will be on your way to becoming more productive and less stressed. I've been doing this for years now and it works GREAT. It's how these fighter pilots manage their personal lives and flying a stupid fast war machine in combat. There have been a few times where I did still get too stressed out, but it was because I literally just had too much on my plate that was beyond my control, but since I understood how stress works, I was able to still get ahold of it and break myself out of the slight depression I had slipped into.

FIND YOUR ROCK!

I keep my husband in the loop on how I'm feeling and how my mental health is going. He listens and comforts me, helps ground me in reality when I start catastrophising, and provides sympathy in stressful times. He helps guide me with good tips for managing anxiety, and knows when a little extra TLC is needed. He is my rock in the storm, and every day I hope to be as good a wife to him as he is a husband to me.

ASK...

I typically ask myself a few questions:

Can I do something about this right now?

Can I do something about this tomorrow?

Can I do something about this in the next week, month, year?

If the answer is yes to any of those items, then I can start to plan for a way to fix, cope, deal with, these items.

If the answer is no to any of those items, then those issues are outside of my control and stressing about them isn't worth my time. I've got better things to do anyways.

YOUR BODY IS SPEAKING.

How does emotional stress translate into physical issues such as back pain or nausea? Like what is happening in your body that your thoughts are causing actual pain?

MAKE BETTER CHOICES...

Alcohol and the occasional outburst.

DON'T STOP MOVING...

I'm a runner. It's not for everyone, but works for me, I always come back in a different (better) frame of mind. The endorphins kick in, I'm breathing, and focusing on things that don't stress me out. I guess working out in general can have the same effect. You don't have to run marathons (but I have) and you don't have to run fast (and I don't). And there are health benefits too. If you're new to it, start slow and short distances and build from there. There are plenty of online training programs to get started (try runners world), get off Reddit and go there.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

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