Quick Pointers to Manage Stress

Quick Pointers to Manage Stress

April is Stress Awareness month. Everyone experiences stress, we just all experience it differently. Stress is the reaction to certain situations when a person feels anxious or threatened. It’s an “in the moment” reaction that can have a lasting impact on your body.

Learning to cope with stress can prove beneficial for long-term physiological health. Left untreated, stress can lead to headaches, stomach disorders, depression, and even serious health issues like stroke or heart disease.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for managing stress. However, exploring coping mechanisms with yourself, your therapist, or using supports proven to work for you might help guide you in the right direction.

Sometimes when your stress is prolonged, it’s helpful to have some skills to utilize for stress management. One helpful Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) tactic is Wise Mind ACCEPTS.

ACCEPTS stands for:

  • Activities
  • Contributing
  • Comparisons
  • Emotions
  • Pushing Away
  • Thoughts
  • Sensations

This essentially helps create more space between your mind and distress. You’ll likely use some of the five methods more than others, but the point is to recognize you are stressed and see what you can do about it.

In my sessions, I often suggest Activities and Pushing Away. Activities can be as simple as getting up and doing something. Clients can go on walks through their neighborhood to be more mindful of what’s just outside. A more intense activity with better results is to workout to get rid of stress. When stressed, your body releases cortisol, which is the body’s alarm system, the main stress hormone. A natural way to reduce the amount of cortisol in your system is to workout.

Pushing Away can work for quick, temporary relief. Maybe you’re stressed about the test you took today or that email you sent to your boss, pushing away the painful or distressing situation could help you feel better to fall asleep or complete the task that you are trying to accomplish.

Now, some triggers require lots of work and may not have quick fixes. Stressors such as finances, dealing with trauma related to our racial or gender identities, and/or sexual orientation can be long-lasting. Identity politics are complicated; even though we can be loud and proud about who we are, walking through the world being unaccepted can be stressful. In those moments, it’s best to have a fabulous support system to get you through trying times. It’s okay to not be okay; it’s not okay to not ask for help.

Remember, dealing with your stress only has positive impacts. Your health is of the utmost importance; without it, we wouldn’t be able to have brilliant conversations, learn new things, or get to know all that you have to offer! Stay hydrated and spread your positivity.

Some great books I recommend for reducing stress and increasing healthy habits are: The Mind Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer, MD; Anxiety Relief for Teens by Regime Galanti, PhD; and What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD, Oprah Winfrey.

Authored by: Tyler Diaz, LCSW