Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? I recently discovered this when I was trying to decide what to blog about this month, and found that it really spoke to me. Stress Awareness Month (emphasis is mine), is a month where we can dedicate ourselves to becoming more aware of stress. But what does that mean in practice? The definition of awareness includes both knowledge and perception, and in the context of stress, are equally important! Therefore to build awareness around stress we first need to understand what stress is and how it manifests.
Stress is the response to a threat, either real or imagined. In small amounts it can be motivating and not cause harm, but in sustained and intense amounts it can impact one’s emotional, behavioral, interpersonal, and physical well being. Building awareness around how stress manifests for you can help in finding tools to effectively cope. Below are a list of ways that stress shows up in our life and what you can do to cope:
Being easily agitated, frustrated or moody
- Monitor your thoughts to see where cognitive distortions may be impacting your emotion
- Build self-soothing techniques to aid in emotional regulation
Feeling overwhelmed and out of control
- Identify what you can control and make efforts to address more manageable tasks
- Speaking with others to help gain perspective and get feedback
Having difficulty relaxing
- Meditation, visualization
- Breathing exercises
Aches and pains in muscles, clenched jaw
- Progressive relaxation exercise
Only seeing the negative
- Utilize a thought defusion technique
- Speak with others to help gain perspective
If you are anything like me, you have allowed stress to be your constant companion without much thought. And in doing so, you haven’t left yourself much room to imagine a life where you are in control of your stress, instead of your stress controlling you. Therefore, when it comes to perception, how we perceive our stress can be integral in how we cope. Seeing it as something manageable, purposeful, and in our control can aid in utilizing necessary coping strategies mentioned above.
Working with a therapist can help you learn, explore, and engage in techniques mentioned above to help manage stress. If you are interested in working with someone please reach out to Cobb Psychotherapy!