We often encounter something each day that can bump our stress into the next level. This “thing” can literally range from just about anything; work, family, etc. To some it may be trying to figure out who is going to pick up their from school while for others it can be a difficult work assignment. Regardless of what the stressful trigger is, you are experiencing stress, and because of your stress life can become overwhelming.
Often the stress that you experience may feel small and in your mind something that you can overcome. Yet, throughout the day the stress continues to take its toll over you and often lead to anxiety. Some people usually try to “avoid the thought of the stress” or tell themselves that “after today it’ll be over”.
Sadly avoiding the stress is not what you want to do. You want to face it head on.
Stress is a part of life. Each and everyday their will be something, big or small, that will push your button. At times the stress will be so small that you can manage it. While at others times, the stress takes over your life. The stress forces you in a corner of doubt, anxiety, and worry.
Easy ways to find out if you are not managing your stress:
- You stress everyday about it.
- You tell yourself that you just can’t do this anymore.
- You might find yourself having nightmares about it (I know I have).
- Avoidance of the stressful trigger that provokes your stress.
- Problems concentrating, focusing and performing due to your stress.
Common symptoms of stress:
- Excessive worry.
- Lack of sleep.
- Irregular sleep.
- Denial and doubt.
Just as you have managed so many aspects of your life, you can also control your stress and manage how it impacts you.
Start by accepting that there will be a number of “things” in your life that will trigger your stress. Ask yourself, how can I control these “thing” so that I don’t go nuts? Write down triggers such as places, people or activities that are associated with your stress.
Common questions to increase your understanding of stress:
- Places, people or things that lead to stress?
- Last 3 stressful situations? What happened?
- Symptoms of stress? physical and emotional.
Step 2: Identifying ways to manage stress
Coping skills are the secret sauce to managing stress in a healthy fashion. Consider a coping skill as the tool that you use to decrease the negative symptoms of stress or entirely remove stress. One of the best things about coping skills is that they are unique to the individual, meaning that you can have some that work for you while having others that are not effective. Below are a few recommendations for coping skills to utilize. In addition, I have posted a link to an anxiety quiz that can help identify if you have anxiety and supportive tools to guide your healing.
- Deep breathing. 4x4x4 is an exercise that I came up with a while back. It’s really simple. Inhale for a duration of 4 seconds, exhale for a duration of 4 seconds and practice it 4 times. The difference is this exercise and what you may be doing now is that in this exercise you are (a) focusing on your breathing and numbers versus the anxiety (b) you are engage in a true deep breathing cycle.
- Practice playing out situations that cause anxiety in your head or live. For instance, if you grow anxious when going to job interviews – “I want you to drive to the interview site the day before and become familiar with your setting/environment. Do research on the company so that you feel more comfortable and in control. Lastly practice interview questions”. Overall, this technique provides you with the feel of control and security.
- Write down positive “I” statements that impact your anxiety driven thoughts. For instance, if you grow anxious due to the thought “if I don’t get this job my life will be over”. Write down some positive “I” statements and post them in your home, car or phone. An example of positive “I” statements may include, “I’ve been through many difficult times in life and have always made It through”.
- Anxiety quiz
As I mentioned earlier, some coping skills will work great! Others will not. In order to find out how effective your coping skills are you are going to need to invest time in your well-being.
Write down each of your coping skills that were discussed above in your smart phone or a notebook. Give each coping skill a scale from (0 to 10) 10 being the most effective. Throughout the day as you experience your stress and use your coping skill(s) measure the effectiveness of the coping skill. Measure the effectiveness of the coping on two separate occasions (a) during the time you are using the coping skill (b) after you have used the coping skill.
It is up to you to consider how effective the coping skill was. If you are pleased with the result, move on. If not, try a different coping skill or even put two together. Their are no wrong answers.
Take control of your life by managing your depression and stress.
Easier said then done!
Depression symptoms can often present themselves with little to no reason. You may be having a great day and all of sudden find yourself experiencing negative depressive thoughts. Symptoms of depression can also present themselves under specific changes or triggers.
Common triggers to depression include:
- Rainy or cloudy day.
- Visiting a past place, person or memory that inclines you to re-experience depressive thoughts.
- Certain rooms or environments.
- Being alone.
- Being in the presences of too many people.
- Nothing at all.
Common symptoms to depression include:
- Fatigue and low energy
- Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Easily irritable or provoked
- Low self-esteem
Regardless of how your symptoms are presented or what your leading triggers are that cause depression it is important to have an action plan. This plan is aimed to support you in managing your depressive symptoms so that you are able to continue living a healthy happy life.
Before discussing the supportive tools to help you manage you depression, I want to encourage you to invest a little more time in understanding and managing your depression. Overall, it is great to have coping skills to manage or even control your anxiety. It can be even more beneficial to you if you simply understood the effectiveness of the coping skills.
How to make sure that your coping skills are actually helping you with stress and depression:
- Step 1: Create a scale from (0 to 10) 10 being the highest. For each of the coping skills.
- Step 2: Practice using a coping skill of your choice for your depression.
- Step 3: Scale how effective the coping skill was for your depression.
Overtime you will have the opportunity to practice each of your coping skills and gain further understanding on just how effective the coping skill are at supporting you to manage your depression.
How to manage your depression?
This means joining a club or organization that will help you towards connecting with new friends and gaining positive persons around you. Do something that will keep you entertain and happy. A support system include trust individuals that you without a doubt feel can support during depressive episodes.
Consider educating your supportive peers on your depression, common symptoms, triggers and how they can help.
Structure you day.
Work towards organizing your day with activities such as time to: do chores, exercise, shower, eat, etc… At times symptoms of depression may incline you to feel overwhelmed and unable to do whatever it is that you are trying to do. By having a schedule and your day organize you can effectively combat your stress in an organized and subtle fashion.
Make sure that you are your number one fan. Positive talk supports to shift your mindset in a manner that is constructive and positive. This strategy directly combats your depressive thoughts, specially during moments in which you are experiencing lots of racing bad thoughts. Go nuts and tell yourself that you are handsome, smart, sexy, etc. Common examples of positive talk include:
- I have people that love me.
- I am really good at my job.
- This has been such a great day, week, month or year for me.
- I love myself so much.
- I control my depression.
Write down positive statements that make you feel uplifted. Write down biblical scriptures that work for you. When you are experiencing your depressive symptoms, pull out your notebook and read your writings. Hopefully by revisiting and reading the statements you will gain ground on your depression.
You can write down the statements listed above for the positive talk activity.
Trial and Error
Remember, if it works keep it, if it does not work throw it away. It is that simple. Depression is like weight loss. If you jog to lose weight and it works, “Please keep doing it.” If you jump up and down to lose weight and it does not work “Stop and pick another strategy.” Find what works for YOU. Add that strategy to your list and carry on.
milada vigerova; matthew brodeur; tim mossholder
Stress and depression are manageable and can be controlled as long as you are willing to invest time and energy into your health. In this article, we highlighted common symptoms of depression and stress, triggers, and how you can manage your stress and depression using a simple 3-step system.