Strong emotions like fear, sadness, or other symptoms of depression are normal, as long as they are temporary and don’t interfere with daily activities. If these emotions last too long or cause other problems, it’s a different story.
Sometimes stress can be good. It can help you develop skills needed to manage potentially threatening situations. Stress can be harmful, however, when it is prolonged or severe enough it can make you feel overwhelmed and can cause other nasty side effects.
Symptoms of Stress
Common reactions to a stressful event include
- Disbelief and shock
- Tension and irritability
- Fear and anxiety about the future
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling numb
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Loss of appetite
- Nightmares and recurring thoughts about the event
- Increased use of alcohol and drugs
- Sadness and other symptoms of depression
- Feeling powerless
- Sleep problems
- Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
- Trouble concentrating
Tips for Self-Care
The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self-care.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. They may seem to be a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run drugs and alcohol can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of taking it away.
- Find support. Seek help from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or clergy. Talk to someone with a sympathetic, listening ear and share your problems This can really help to lighten the burden.
- Connect socially. After a stressful event, it is easy isolate yourself. Make sure that you are spending time with loved ones. Consider planning fun activities with your partner, children, or friends.
- Take care of yourself.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out—for example, treat yourself to a therapeutic massage
- Maintain a normal routine
- Stay active. You can take your mind off your problems with activities like helping a neighbor, volunteering in the community, and taking the dog for a long walk. These can be positive ways to cope with stressful feelings.
Make sure that you spend time with loved ones after a stressful event.