Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any age. The symptoms are different for everyone, but it is possible to reduce the risk of developing a mental health problem.
One of the most common results of high-stress levels is an addiction because we tend to turn to substances as a way to cope with mental illness. The combination of a substance use disorder and mental illness is called a dual diagnosis in which the two disorders are co-occurring.
Identifying the early signs of mental health issues can help us to recognize when we’re turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substances or other escapes. Then, we can find ways to relieve stress thoughtfully and successfully.
Let’s dive into the best ways to get your mind right so you can better manage your stress levels and mental health.
1. Know That Stress Is Unavoidable
Everyone experiences stress, and there’s no way of avoiding it. New jobs, school changes, starting a family, going through the death of a loved one—all of these things and more can bring us stress.
Sometimes, we can set ourselves up for failure by trying to convince ourselves that stress is self-inflicted. We insist that we just need to stop worrying about it, but in truth, stress is real and we have a better chance at tackling it if we recognize that everyone goes through stress.
2. Practice Self-Soothing Techniques
When stress inevitably sets in, there are several self-soothing techniques we can use to get our minds right. It’s important to recognize what you’re feeling in a moment of stress and respond to that feeling in a way that’s meaningful to you. Don’t ignore it or try to push it aside; instead, validate the stress and redirect your energy to a healthy, self-soothing strategy.
You might try something like:
● breathing exercises
● muscle relaxation exercises
3. Stay Connected with Others
The quickest way to exacerbate stress is to isolate yourself. Make sure you’re regularly checking in with other people so you can keep your emotional well-being intact.
This could mean having consistent counseling sessions, meeting up with friends, and spending time with other people you feel comfortable with. Talking to people you trust about your problems can help you to work through difficult issues and release pent-up tension.
4. Recognize When It’s Time to Take a Break
Learn your body and mind’s cues for stress so you can know when you need to take a break. Pay attention to signs like nervous sweating, tension in your muscles, headaches, a tight chest, and other indications that your body is under stress.
When you feel stress mounting, reassess your tasks. Prioritize the most important, non-negotiable aspects of your day or week, and let the rest go.
5. Avoid Using Drugs or Alcohol
According to this study, stress is a known risk factor for developing addictions or being vulnerable to relapse. Drinking alcohol or using drugs might seem like a good idea for stress relief at the moment, but using substances as an escape can lead to serious issues with substance abuse.
Caffeine can also contribute to high-stress levels. Instead of coffee or caffeinated sodas, try unwinding with a cup of decaffeinated tea.
6. Adjust Your Perspective
Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed because of all of the negative things happening in our lives. Try developing a more positive outlook on life by practicing gratitude, recognizing when good things happen, and using empowering language.
Instead of wondering why bad things always happen to you, remind yourself that you can get through it and start problem-solving.
7. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health
If you think about it, your stress and anxiety are not really just a part of who you are. You can choose the stress in your life and how you react to it.
Focusing on your positive attitudes and behavior will definitely help you in maintaining a healthy level of stress and anxiety.
8. Understand Your Body
Stress and anxiety can cause you to feel tired, stressed out, and not quite yourself. It’s important that you know what your body is trying to tell you. Take note of any physical symptoms, and speak to your doctor if they persist.
9. Do Something you Love
When we are stressed out, our bodies tend to react in a very physical way. It often manifests in our bodies as fatigue, headaches, and pain. But there are also many non-physical symptoms that can affect your mood and energy levels. If you have no one to call, you can find a friend to walk with. If you have nothing to do, then you can find something to love.
10. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to your present moment experience without judging or evaluating it. It’s a powerful way to be more aware of what you’re thinking and feeling, and it can help to reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness is a state of being that allows us to notice our thoughts without getting caught up in them.
11. Know That Stress Doesn’t Make Things Worse
When we’re stressed out, the last thing we want to do is do anything that might make us feel worse. But if we hold stress to this same standard, it will continue to be the root of our problems.
Managing Stress Long-Term
Stress is not always a bad thing. It’s a helpful tool for navigating dangerous situations and preparing ourselves for the future. Learning to manage stress and finding new ways to cope is essential in improving mental health. Keep learning about your body’s response to stress and explore new ways to care for yourself in those moments.
Stress is something we’ve all experienced, recognized, and dealt with in some way. In fact, stress is such a common human experience that we often don’t notice when our bodies are responding to stress in a negative or unhealthy way.
Learning to manage stress and finding new ways to cope is essential in improving mental health. Keep learning about your body’s response to stress and explore new ways to care for yourself in those moments.