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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Zello

Managing with Stress in the Modern World: Strategies for Resilience

In our fast-paced, always-connected modern world, stress has become a near-constant companion for many of us. The pressures of work, social expectations, and personal challenges can all contribute to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Understanding how to manage this stress is crucial not only for our mental well-being but also for our overall health.

Managing Stress
Managing Stress

Stress, in its most basic form, is a physical and emotional response to certain types of demands placed on us in the present and in consideration of the future. It's the body's way of reacting to a perceived challenge or a threat. While a certain level of stress can be motivating and energizing, too much stress, especially when chronic, can be detrimental to our relationships, intrapersonal life, and physical health.

While we cannot effectively rid ourselves of having a stress response, it is important to be mindful of the stress we feel daily. By noticing the stress, rather than ignoring or pushing through it, we can effectively give ourselves a chance to choose a different perspective, mindset, environment, activity...etc. Using the power of choice puts us in the seat of our experiences, allowing us to lower our stress response. So, what in our modern world causes us to lose sight of our internal sense of control and increases our stress response? Let's take a closer look.

Modern Causes of Stress

In today's world, we are bombarded with information, responsibilities, and social pressures. Technology, while a valuable tool, can also lead to an "always-on" lifestyle where the boundaries between work and personal life blur. Social media, despite its benefits, can often contribute to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. These distractions are relatable to most folks, but there is even more happening on a deeper psychological level. There are a plethora of new studies showing that using various forms of technology in excess puts us at risk for neurotransmitter deficiencies. In short, the chemicals in our brains that are responsible for helping us manage stress are now being used to deal with the bombardment of stimulation provided by our devices.

We must also consider societal expectations in the workplace, home life, family life, and spiritual life. Many of our society's expectations are not communicated clearly, nor do they account or accommodate for a individuals uique situation. This can lead to a subtle yet consistent sense of stress and a feeling that we cannot "manage" to idealized standards. Think about it... our brains and bodies are responding to the potential of failing a test in the same way they would if we were being chased by a bear! Clearly, we understand these two stimuli pose different levels of threat - but our minds and bodies have been taught to treat them the same.

There are many other considerations in the causes of stress, but having a framework to recognize these modern stressors is the first step in managing them.

Strategies for Managing Stress

  1. Prioritize and Organize: Taking control of your schedule and responsibilities can significantly reduce stress. This includes setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and delegating when possible. Remember, it's okay not to be perfect in every aspect of life.

  2. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are foundational in managing stress. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. A healthy diet can stabilize energy levels, while sufficient sleep is crucial for both physical and mental recovery.

  3. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help calm your mind and reduce stress. They bring your focus to the present, reducing the tendency to worry about the future or dwell on the past.

  4. Build a Support Network: Sharing your concerns with friends, family, or a professional can provide emotional support and alternative perspectives. Sometimes, just talking about what you are experiencing can be immensely relieving.

  5. Set Boundaries: In the digital age, it’s important to set boundaries for work and social media. Designate times when you are not checking emails or engaging with social media. This can help you disconnect and recharge.

  6. Pursue Hobbies and Interests: Engaging in activities you enjoy can be a great way to relieve stress. Whether it's reading, gardening, painting, or playing a musical instrument, hobbies can provide a much-needed break from the routine.

If you find that stress is becoming overwhelming, and it's affecting your daily life or health, it may be time to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide you with strategies to manage stress effectively and work with you to reduce its impact on your life. The counselors in our practice are trained to help you recognize stressors and your experience of stress. We can help you navigate psychological barriers between you and peace.

Remember, it's not the presence of stress but how we deal with it that matters. By recognizing the sources of stress and implementing effective management strategies, we can not only cope with stress but also thrive despite it.

In your journey to manage stress, the following books may be valuable resources:

  1. "The Stress Solution: Using Empathy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Develop Resilience" by Arthur P. Ciaramicoli.

  2. "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" by Robert M. Sapolsky.

  3. "The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook" by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay.

  4. "Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World" by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

  5. "Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness" by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

These resources offer a deeper understanding of stress and provide practical tips and techniques to manage it effectively in our modern world. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. By learning to manage stress, we open the door to a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Chattanooga Counseling and Consulting is devoted to helping you manage stress and improve your overall sense of mental health. You can schedule with us easily online or give us a call and we would be happy to book you an appointment!

Joshua Zello LPC-MHSP

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