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Let’s Talk About Stress

By Sofia Reverendo, LMSW

What is stress? 

According to the World Health Organization, stress is defined as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.”

How does stress affect us? 

The ways in which each person responds to stress is incredibly different. Therefore, we must take time to reflect on our own stress, and how it not only affects our mental state, but also our physical state. The mind and body are interconnected. 

Throughout my experience, I have noticed many clients of mine who are young children experiencing somatization. Somatization is when a person is experiencing physical or medical symptoms that have no identifiable and organic cause. Our mental state, and feelings, can be a contributing factor to these physical symptoms. This phenomenon emphasizes the importance of taking time to self-reflect on the role of stress in your own life. 

How can we manage stress? 

There are many ways we can manage stress. Here are a few things to get you started: 

  • Keeping a daily routine can be helpful for managing stress because it helps to give us a sense of control of our environment. When we feel a sense of control, we can prepare for what is to come, therefore, minimizing stress and anxious feelings. 
  • Being aware of how much we are sleeping, what we are eating, and the amount of exercise we are getting can also be crucial indicators and correlators to our stress levels, and our ability to handle high amounts of stress. I have found that when I check on the sleep, nutrition, and exercise of my clients, one or more of these areas are lacking. Therefore, psychoeducation is oftentimes needed, but often overlooked. When we have a lower level of functioning due to these areas, we become more vulnerable to stress and have a lower frustration tolerance. This can make daily life and situations at work, home, and school increasingly difficult. 
  • Connecting with others can help us feel less isolated and minimize our stress levels. It is important to surround oneself with people that will lift our mood and encourage positive feelings in us. Self-reflection of our own social circles is also important to understand how some relationships in our life can be contributing to high amounts of stress. 
  • Limiting news and content online can be a way to minimize stress. Overconsumption of social media and the internet have been shown to increase stress levels for many people. Take some time to reflect on if this statement is true for you. If it is, try to be more cognizant of your online intake. 

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