Everyone experiences stress. For some people, it happens before having to speak in public. For other people, it might be before a first date. What causes stress for you may not be stressful for someone else. Sometimes stress is helpful – it can encourage you to meet a deadline or get things done. But long-term stress can increase the risk of diseases like depression, heart disease and a variety of other problems. Additionally, there is also stress-related illnesses, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which develops after an event like war, physical or sexual assault, or a natural disaster.
How to manage stress:
According to an article from USA Today; When stress occurs, it is important to recognize and deal with it. Here are some suggestions for ways to handle stress. As you begin to understand more about how stress affects you as an individual, you will come up with your own ideas on how to ease the tension.
Try physical activity.
When you are nervous, angry or upset, release the pressure through exercise or physical activity. Running, walking, playing tennis or working in your garden, are just some of the activities you might try. Physical exercise will relieve that “up tight” feeling, relax you, and turn the frowns into smiles. Remember, your body and your mind work together.
Make use of the NMSU Relaxation Room.
Did you know that NMSU has a relaxation Room that is free to students and staff? It is located on the first floor of Branson Library. It has a wonderful message chair along with relaxing music. It also has two user friendly biofeedback devices that help to lower blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.
Share your stress.
It helps to talk to someone about your concerns and worries. Perhaps a friend, family member, teacher or counselor, can help you see your problem in a different light. If you feel your problem is serious, you might seek professional help from a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. Knowing when to ask for help may help to avoid more serious problems later. Consider visiting the Counseling Center for free counseling.
Know your limits.
If a problem is beyond your control and cannot be changed at the moment, don’t fight the situation. Learn to accept what is for now, until such time when you can change it.
Take care of yourself.
You are special. Get enough rest and eat well. If you are irritable and tense from lack of sleep, or if you are not eating correctly, you will have less ability to deal with stressful situations. If stress repeatedly keeps you from sleeping, you should ask your doctor for help.
Make time for fun.
Schedule time for both work and recreation. Play can be just as important to your well-being as work; you need a break from your daily routine to just relax and have fun.
Be a participant.
One way to keep from getting bored, sad, and lonely is to go where it’s all happening. Sitting alone can make you feel frustrated. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, get involved. Offer your services to a neighborhood or volunteer organizations. Help yourself by helping other people. Get involved in the world and the people around you, and you will find they will be attracted to you. You’re on your way to making new friends and enjoying new activities.
Check off your tasks.
Trying to take care of everything at once can seem overwhelming, and as a result, you may not accomplish anything. Instead, make a list of what tasks you have to do and do them one at a time, checking them off as they’re completed. Give priority to the most important ones and do those first.
Must you always be right?
Do other people upset you – particularly when they don’t do things your way? Try cooperation instead of confrontation; it’s better than fighting and always being “right.” A little give and take on both sides will reduce the strain and make you both feel more comfortable.
It’s OK to cry.
A good cry can be a healthy way to bring relief to your anxiety, and it might even prevent a headache or other physical consequence. Take some deep breaths; they also release tension.
Create a quiet scene.
You can’t always get away, but you can “dream the impossible dream.” A quiet country scene, painted mentally or on canvas, can take you out of the turmoil of a stressful situation. Change the scene by reading a good book or playing beautiful music to create a sense of peace and tranquillity.
Although you can use drugs to relieve stress temporarily, drugs do not remove the conditions that caused the stress in the first place. Drugs, in fact, may be habit-forming and create more stress than they relieve. They should be taken only on the advice of your doctor.
The best strategy for avoiding stress is to learn how to relax your mind and body in your own healthy way.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of days. When a person has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get better.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Intensive research into the illness has resulted in the development of medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat people with this disabling disorder.
There are several forms of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health provides a description of each different form.
- Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.
- Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Some forms of depressive disorder exhibit slightly different characteristics than those described above, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not all scientists agree on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:
- Psychotic depression, which occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.
- Postpartum depression, which is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.1
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.
- Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). Visit the NIMH website for more information about bipolar disorder.
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
American Psychological Association (APA) Information on the causes of depression and treatment options.
According to the Truth about Suicide, Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and the third leading cause of death among all youth 15–24 years old. In the U.S., only accidents and homicides claim more young lives.
HELPGUIDE.org provides some ways to cope with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Remember that while it may feel as if the depression will never end, depression is never a permanent condition. You WILL feel better again. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to cope with your suicidal thoughts and feelings:
- Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face. Though you feel like withdrawing, ask trusted friends and acquaintances to spend time with you.
- Spend time with people who aren’t depressed. This can lift you up and make you feel better.
- If you are thinking of taking an overdose, give your medicines to someone who can give them to you one day at a time.
- Remove any dangerous objects or weapons from your home.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs. They will only make you feel worse.
- Wait until you are feeling better before doing things you find difficult or unpleasant.
- Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what.
- Don’t skip meals, and get at least eight hours of sleep each night.
- Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30-minutes a day.
- Make time for things that bring you joy.
- Controlling Anger–Before It Controls You Tips from the American Psychological Association.
For more information about emotional and mental health, you can visit the Counseling Center webpage.