Ask a Therapist: How to Manage Stress
Dr. Brad Schwall, PCC Executive Director with:
Michael Hyder, LPC, Dr. Nathaniel Strenger, Psychologist, and Dr. Marisol De Jesús-Pérez, Psychologist
Every day presents us with varying levels of stressful situations, from traffic to more serious worries. Research shows that our physical health is significantly impacted by the experience of emotional stress. There are strategies that we can implement daily that can keep our stress from building up and help us to develop resilience and a sense of calm even in stressful situations. We asked some PCC clinicians for some quick tips on managing stress.
Dr. Schwall: What are some tips for managing stress?
Michael: As far as dealing with mindfulness, practicing just being present, which is being aware of how your body is feeling, tuning into your senses. It helps reduce stress. Again, practice just being aware of what's happening right now. Instead of getting caught in ruminative, kind getting stuck in your head thinking about things often that we can't control and drain us of a lot of our energy and we want to be connected to what's happening right now, which is being connected to how our body feels, what we are feeling, which gives us good energy.
Dr. Schwall: So, I think I hear you saying focus on the moment. Don't worry about the future. Just be aware of what's happening right now. That's good. So, we can do that anywhere, right? During work or whenever, right?
Michael Hyder: Yes. You can start with the breath. Of course, that's kind of the grounding. Just noticing the breath is a good practice.
Dr. Strenger: I remember in my undergraduate studies, a professor saying- really driving home- the importance of the point that stress management is active. It's not just something that it's easy for us, especially in this culture, to try to manage stress through productivity. Instead, it's something that we need to actively put into our routine. I think, for me right now, something that's really important is a lot of the research that coming out is tying the body to the emotions. So, exercise, like regular exercise, health, diet. Things like that. But I also think too, that we manage stress through community too.
So, making sure that we're verbalizing feelings with trusted others, whether it's in a large or small group context because empathy and receiving empathy from others is also shown to be even neurologically, but really effective stress management.
Specifically too, even just verbalizing feelings, actually organizing some of the stressful feelings that might be having them, and organizing them through words to another person so that they can then show us that they understand how we feel because empathy is really a big neurological soother.
Dr. De Jesús-Pérez: First of all, embrace your limits.
Know what you can and when you cannot do and don't be afraid of saying no when something is too much. Know your body and respond to it appropriately. Learn to read the cues. When you are too stressed, your body gives you signs and if you respond on time, you save yourself a lot of pain.