What You Need To Know About Coping With Chronic Stressors
Do you feel stressed all the time? You’re not alone. A recent Gallup poll revealed that over half of Americans reported feeling stressed for “a lot of the day.”
Of course, some stress is normal; it’s part of the collective human experience. Usually, the stress passes, and we move onto the next task or obstacle. But coping with chronic stressors requires a different mindset than the one we have when navigating random issues that arise.
Let’s get into what you need to know.
What Are Chronic Stressors?
Chronic stressors refer to challenging, long-term situations that don’t necessarily have defined expiration dates. Some examples include:
- You or a loved one’s medical condition or disability
- Unemployment or financial insecurity
- Marital or relationship issues
- Ongoing community stress or the aftermath of a natural disaster
- Career or academic stress
It’s no secret that people react to chronic stressors in a variety of ways. Some “power through” the day, trying to avoid any uncomfortable feelings associated with the experience. Others turn towards numbing the pain.
Over time, ineffective coping skills can result in burnout, resentment, low self-esteem, and aversive physical health symptoms. That said, you can develop new habits. Let’s unpack how to cope with chronic stressors positively and productively.
Eliminating Toxic Areas Of Your Life
Do you spend time with a friend who continues to make you feel bad about yourself? Are you working in a job that you absolutely detest? Do you continue attending a class or event because you feel obligated?
Sometimes, we need to “stick out” certain situations because changing them would cause too much disruption. However, you owe it to yourself to take inventory of what is and isn’t working in your life. After all, nobody is responsible for your happiness and well-being more than you are. If you continue doing the same thing every single day, you’ll probably keep feeling the same way.
When we feel stressed, the world often feels dark and negative. We’re irritable and overwhelmed, and we often feel slighted by the hand dealt to us. In small doses, such pessimism is relatively harmless. However, if pessimism is your usual perspective, you’ll invariably feel more stressed, frustrated, and resentful.
Daily gratitude helps keep your blessings in perspective. This process doesn’t need to be arduous to be effective. Consider writing down your gratitude at the end of each night. Practice a few minutes of self-compassion through meditation. Write a letter to someone thanking them for how they helped you.
Many people falsely assume they need to manage all of life’s problems by themselves. They isolate themselves from other people and avoid talking about their issues. They don’t want to burden others, and so, they move about their days repeating an ongoing chorus of I’m fine, and things are good.
As social creatures, we humans were never meant to solve everything alone. We are meant to lean, reach, and support one another; we are built for friendship and mentorship.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, challenge yourself to talk about your feelings. Even if it scares you. Even if you’re not sure if the other person can truly be supportive. Even if you feel like you’re overreacting.
Spending Time Outdoors
Do you love the feeling of the waves crashing over you? Or the sun beating on your back? Or the crisp morning air during a challenging hike?
The human body benefits from spending time in nature. Even just spending a few minutes outdoors boosts our happiness, creativity, and problem-solving skills. All of these benefits can mitigate some of the anxiety associated with chronic stress.
Engage in physical activity if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Most of us know that physical movement can improve your mental well-being. It feels good to move and strengthen and push your body. Moreover, research also shows that outdoor physical activity has a 50% greater positive impact on your mental well-being than working out in a gym.
Pursuing Creative Expression
We benefit from having outlets to relieve our emotions. Of course, talking about our feelings helps, but sometimes we need other ways to express ourselves. Consider how you can embrace creativity through art, writing, or music.
Don’t force yourself to “come up” with anything spectacular. That’s not the goal. The goal is to channel your energy into something that you can build and create.
Coping With Chronic Stressors Even When Life Becomes Overwhelming
There isn’t a magic formula for coping with chronic stressors. Often, you’ll need to experiment with different techniques to find the one that works best for you. Consequently, that technique may change depending on your mood and circumstances.
Therapy can help provide you with support, guidance, and practical solutions for stress management. Whether it’s a recent struggle or you’ve been having a hard time for years, we are here for you. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation.
Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.