Stress is a natural part of life, and it can happen in good times and bad. We often think of stress as a bad thing that happens when we feel overwhelmed, but there are also positive reasons for stress, such as retiring from a job or starting a new job.
Dr. Ed Kelley, Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Mission Health, says that stress is a natural feeling for everyone.
“In some ways, stress is a signal telling us to take care of ourselves when there’s so much going on,” says Kelley.
The problem with depression is that we often ignore and worry about the warning signs until we can no longer control them, explains Diana Plummer, a licensed clinical psychologist and national director of Behavioral Health Services at Mission Health’s parent organization, HCA Healthcare.
“Stress detection is important for a number of reasons,” says Plummer. “When we allow stress to build up, it puts us at risk for health and emotional problems and a lot of other problems. That’s one reason,” Plummer says.
“Another reason it’s important to know about stress is that as humans, we often use the word stress casually: ‘Ha! I’m really stressed, I’ve got a lot going on.’ When we use that word, we don’t really stop to think about the reality of what stress is doing to our minds and bodies,” she explains.
What are some of the causes of depression?
It is important to define stress in order to understand how it affects us. Stress is your body’s response to something it perceives as dangerous, real or imagined.
The Five major causes of stressaccording to the American Psychological Association (APA), it is:
- Money. In an APA survey of adults, 72% said they are stressed about money. This can include retirement savings, college tuition and home equity.
- Work pressure. Conflicts with co-workers, bosses and workload are some of the causes of work stress.
- Health. Health risks or chronic diseases are very serious, and can exacerbate other problems.
- Relationships. Relationships, whether romantic or platonic, can sometimes have negative consequences in life.
- Not eating well. Not eating enough food can cause stress in the body. Consuming too much caffeine, for example, can cause physical symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate.
Common causes of depression include:
- Poor time management
- Fatigue (taking too much)
- Major life change (death of a loved one or job loss)
More than a quarter of Americans surveyed recently by APA said they are so stressed can not work most days, citing external problems such as inflation, crime and politics.
Some problems are more visible to some people, but even small problems are important. “We have to make sure we’re dealing with concerns when they arise, whether they’re small or large,” says Plummer.
How to manage stress
Kelley emphasizes the importance of doing things we enjoy.
He said: “Often the things we enjoy doing are the ones that start to disappear when we get bored (“I don’t have time for that.”). Finding time to go for a walk, see friends, or just read a book can refresh us and help us take our mind off of life. We all need breaks – remember to take them!”
The HELP model can help us understand where we’re looking, Plummer adds. Help is a summary of:
“Where is your balance on these four things?” Am I spending 80% of my time on productivity and working with little rest and my focus on my health and mind? Or am I burdened by my health and illness and not paying attention to other areas?” Plummer says. Using this model can help you see where you are using most of your energy to try to reshape your life.
In addition to using the HELP model, Plummer says it’s important to change any ways you deal with stress or deal with your problem. You also need to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Otherwise, you may increase your stress.
Depending on what area of your life you are stressed about, you may need to deal with it in different ways.
If you are under financial stress, coping strategies include creating additional sources of income or adjusting your budget. You can choose to cut back on unnecessary items or cook at home instead of spending money on takeout or restaurants. You may also want to take a closer look at your regular expenses, such as advertising services or gym memberships, and eliminate anything you don’t use. Set trial cancellation reminders so you don’t get charged for work you don’t want to keep.
Managing work stress can include setting positive boundaries, such as not checking email after hours or reminding yourself to take a moment to think about the situation before responding. If you have a disagreement with a co-worker, it may be helpful to step away and let your feelings settle before taking action.
Sometimes you can manage your health concerns with diet, exercise and enough sleep, but if you have a chronic medical condition, you may need to work with your doctor to find a solution to your problem. Meditation and deep breathing can help reduce stress.
Depression like grief can take many forms. Therapy or grief counseling can provide a safe place to talk about your loss and feelings, or you may want to join a support group. It also helps to identify ‘triggers,’ such as birthdays, holidays and holidays. Planning those days may include making sure you are not alone, watching your favorite movies or listening to your favorite music. Writing a letter to your loved one can also help you get over your grief.
Understanding when to seek help
Sometimes we need help to deal with our anxiety, especially if it affects our lives to the point that it is difficult for us to do the things we like to do.
“Listen to the words and do something about depression. Take care of yourself; breathe; seek help; do fun things,” says Kelley. “The biggest mistake we make is to ignore the signs and just move on.”
You should seek help from your doctor if you start to have physical symptoms, such as back or chest pain, muscle pain, headache or nervousness.
When you feel anxious, ask yourself: What is my anxiety telling me? From there, you can take steps to reduce your stress before it gets worse.
Kelley also emphasizes the importance of recognizing a loved one’s stress. Sometimes the best thing a friend or family member can do is simply ask if the person you love needs to talk to them.
“Sharing with others can help a person realize that they are overwhelmed and sometimes allow someone to ask for help,” said Kelly. “Many of us see admitting that we are stressed as a sign of weakness. Starting a conversation can give a loved one permission to admit that they need help.”