It’s not unusual to feel extreme anxiety or pressure (especially these days) about everything you have to take care of. But there is a solution: taking care of yourself! Practicing self-care, even for just a few minutes a day, can make a big difference in your health and wellbeing. This improvement starts with learning to recognize the signs that the stress in your life has reached unhealthy levels.
What Does Stress Look Like?
Harbor Community Health Center providers want you to know that while it’s normal for some things in life to be stressful, too much stress can physically hurt you. Traffic, work, school, relationships, or family illness are all commonly stressful situations. But if you feel stressed often or all the time with no relief, the physical symptoms will start to show up in your body. You may be suffering from chronic stress if you’re experiencing:
- Chest pain or feeling like your heart is racing
- Muscle tension, jaw clenching, or grinding your teeth
- Stomach pain or digestive problems
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- High blood pressure
- Loss of interest in or trouble having sex
- Getting sick more often than usual (weak immune system)
Some signs of chronic stress reveal themselves in your behaviors, emotions, and relationships – signs like:
- Drinking alcohol or using controlled substances too much or too often
- Having a short temper or crying easily
- Arguing often with family members
- Feeling unwilling to take care of yourself or your home
- Feeling exhausted, helpless, hopeless, or overwhelmed
How Can I Deal With Stress?
HCHC’s providers suggest and recommend a number of self-care techniques that make you feel calmer or happier. When the stress gets too great, these techniques allow your mind and body to relax in between all of life's challenges. Some ideas for self-care are:
- Taking brisk walks or engaging in whatever form of movement feels best
- Doing a guided meditation (many free options can be found online)
- Calling a friend or family member to talk
- Listening to music, making art, practicing a craft, or cooking your favorite meal
- When your mind races or you feel panicked or angry, using the 5-4-3-2-1 method, which can be done quickly, silently, and discreetly: wherever you are, focus on
- Five things you see
- Four things you feel
- Three things you hear
- Two things you smell
- One thing you taste
- Making a daily schedule that includes time for sleep, meal breaks, exercise, etc. Predictability and routine can be extremely helpful in restoring a sense of calm and safety into your life.
If self-care techniques don’t seem to be lowering the level of stress in your life, our care providers are here to help. Harbor Community Health Centers’ services, ranging from primary care to behavioral health and psychotherapy, allow us to treat the whole patient. Let us assist you in getting to the bottom of your chronic stress and creating a unique treatment plan that’s right for you.