Mental Health

Stress and Wellbeing

Stress and anxiety are normal feelings that everyone experiences. Stress is not always a bad thing. It is a normal response to life's changes and challenges. It is a way that our mind and body communicate to prepare us for difficult situations. However, experiencing too much stress can have negative effects.

What Causes Stress?

Most of the time, the things that cause stress aren't dangerous. Stress can be caused by everyday things like taking a test, getting up for school, or talking to someone new; or by major life events, like changes in location or loss of a friend or family member.

How To Know If You're Experiencing Stress Symptoms

Stress can affect your body, behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. The usual signs of stress include:

  • Changes in the body
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue

Behavioral Changes

  • Avoiding others
  • Feeling restless and unsettled
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs more than usual
  • Avoiding difficult situations
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

Emotional Changes

  • Feeling excessively worried or confused
  • Feeling excessively angry or annoyed
  • Feeling excessively tired or frustrated
  • Feeling that you can't face things
  • Loss of confidence
  • Negative view of yourself or others

Stress and Your Body

Our ability to cope with stress and manage our stress levels greatly affects our physical health. Constant stress can increase the risk of disease and illness. Some long-term effects of stress include:

  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Mental health  
  • problems
  • Serious heart problems
  • Trouble breathing
  • Skin and hair conditions
  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Fertility problems

Can Stress Be Positive?

Stress can have positive outcomes when we are able to regulate it. In some situations, stress can push us to meet our goals or meet life's daily challenges.

What Are Some Ways to Cope with Stress?

  1. Focus on What You Have Control Over - It's important to channel our energy into the things that we can actually control. As opposed to completely giving up or running away from problems, we can focus on the things that we can change as individuals.
  2. Managing Emotions - It is normal to feel upset, angry, or afraid when faced with stress. Suppressing our feelings will not make them go away. Try expressing your feelings by speaking to someone you trust, or writing them down.
  3. Seek Help - Getting help from people you trust is helpful. Family, friends, and health professionals are all people you could turn to for support.
  4. Focus on The Positives - This is one of the hardest things to do. In some cases, it seems impossible. Too much focus on the negative can increase stress and reduce motivation to improve things.
  5. Create an Executable Plan - One of the best ways to reduce stress is to deal with what is in your control. Try to break down a stressful problem into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  6. Self-Care - Self-care is one of the most important practices we can incorporate into our daily lives. The key to self-care is to look for small things you can do every day that make YOU feel good. Some self-care practices include:
    • Eating healthy foods and drinking water throughout the day to maintain your energy
    • Regular exercise
    • Relaxation methods such as meditation or yoga
    • Work/life balance
    • Making time for hobbies and activities that bring joy
    • Sleeping well

You can also check out the following resources for support or more information:

  • 24/7 Behavioral Health Services Department: (800) 491-9099
  • Crisis Text Line: Text RENEW to 741741
  • Suicide Prevention Crisis Support Services: (800) 309-2131
  • Crisis Support Services Text Line: Text "safe" to 20121
  • Nationwide Hotline : (800) 273-TALK or (800) 273-8255

In need of immediate support? Visit our crisis support page