Things You Need to Know About Stress.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stress can be normal.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but some people experience more stress than they’re able to handle.

Stress is the bodies efforts to prepare for needed effort. Two things will determine how stress affects you. How you initially handle stress is critical. Some people may be able to handle physical stress easily, but not mental stress. You may not be able to manage financial stress equally to the way you handle emotional stress.

Not everyone recovers from stress at the same rate.

Athletes who train every day may recover from physical stress relatively quickly. If you’re one of those people who rarely exercise, doing something physically strenuous on the weekend may require several days for you to recover.

Stressful events can be temporary, or they may last a long time.

Moving from one house to another may be stressful until you have settled into the new home. Starting a new job can also be stressful. Being unemployed and homeless can remain stressful for a very long time.

Some stress is routine, and some are extraordinary.

Everyday stresses could be things such as getting ready and going to work every morning or getting the kids off to school. Most jobs involve routine stress. Extraordinary types of stress include such things as a death in the family, losing a job or working at a job that has frequent episodes of high pressure.

Sometimes stress can be traumatic.

Experiencing a traumatic stressor can result in several types of mental illness. After experiencing a sudden traumatic stressor, some people experience a short bout of Acute Stress Disorder. If the impairment from the stressor does not remit, it may become Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Long-term constant stress can result in burnout.

Job burnout is the result of high levels of stress over a long period, which results in a person feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted and not being able to recover during their time of duty.

Stress isn’t always bad.

Physically stressing your muscles can increase your strength and abilities. Mental stress can lead to learning and creativity. Happy events can sometimes be extremely stressful. Interviewing for a job, starting a new job, getting married, or the birth of a child can all be stressful events. What’s important is to give yourself time to rest after the stressful events. Stress only becomes bad when it exceeds your abilities, continues to long, or is traumatic.

Chronic stress can overwhelm you.

Your automobile should be capable of rapid acceleration or high speeds on occasion. Run your car too many miles at high speed, and eventually something will break. While humans are not machines, the same principle applies. Living life with too much stress can eventually overwhelm you.

Self-care can help reduce stress.

Good self-care can reduce the impact of the stresses you experience. Good self-care does not necessarily mean doing nothing or vegetating on the couch all weekend. Varying your activities can reduce the impact of chronic stress.

Excess stress harms your health.

High levels of long-term stress are unhealthy. Continuing to mentally hold onto stress after the event will also damage your physical health. Excess stress can impair your sleep and appetite. Difficulty falling asleep, called sleep latency, is the result of ruminating about the thing that is stressing you. Chronic or excessive stress can also impair your immune system making you more susceptible to illness and infections.

High levels of stress cause physical and emotional symptoms.

You may experience excess stress in your body. Headaches, nausea, insomnia, and changes in appetite can all be symptoms of excess stress. Too much stress may also lead to irritability, anger, and sadness. Ultimately stress can lead to developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression.

Can stress be managed?

Many people feel that stress is just a part of modern life, and they try to tough it out for as long as possible. Failing to manage stress can lead to physical and emotional illnesses, job burnout, and even permanent disabilities. There are things you can do to reduce the impact of stress on your life. In my next post in this series, I want to tell you about ways that you can manage stress and reduce its impact on your life.

Here are some resources for more about stress and stress management.

The National Institute of Mental Health has a handy brochure on stress and managing it.

Other counselorssoapbox posts on this topic are at Stress.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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Not identifying feelings makes you depressed.

Man with feelings

Managing feelings.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Feelings illiteracy results in misidentifying your feelings.

In childhood, most of us learn a great many things. One thing a lot of people don’t learn about is feelings. Mostly we are taught to think logically. When you do feel unpleasant emotions, people are often told to ignore them. The result of all this lack of learning about feelings is a condition called emotional illiteracy.

What is feelings illiteracy?

While it’s not an official diagnosis inability to understand feelings as a factor in a great many mental health issues, it begins with not being able to recognize what it is you are feeling. Feelings illiteracy also means that you can’t identify what other people are feeling. People who lack feelings illiteracy can be extremely sensitive and perceive things others do and say as about them. Feelings illiteracy can lead to a lack of emotional intimacy when you can’t leave feelings, your efforts to be assertive to become aggressive, hostile, and bullying. Feelings illiteracy can lead to insecurity, anxiety, and being continually on guard in the world that feels frightening and hostile.

It’s challenging to manage emotions when you don’t know what they are.

If you’ve never learned to identify what you feel, you may misidentify them. Many people when asked how they feel will tell me they feel good; they feel bad; they feel angry. That’s the limit of their ability to identify feelings. When they feel insecure or threatened, many people respond by feeling angry rather than identifying what is making them feel anxious.

It’s common for some folks to interpret feeling lonely as a feeling of rejection and as a result, they withdraw from others rather than seek out more friendships or to improve their existing relationships.

Emotionally illiterate people blame their feelings on others.

You don’t know much about feelings and can identify what you’re feeling it’s tempting to believe that other people create those feelings inside you. If you feel bad, someone must’ve done something wrong. If you don’t feel happy, then someone must’ve withheld that happiness from you. As people become more emotionally literate, they come to recognize that they are responsible for how they feel.

Feelings illiteracy matters most when times are hard.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was always smooth sailing? Well probably not, life without variations in feelings could become very dull. The times when feelings become most important is when we are struggling. How can you overcome a challenge if you don’t know what that challenge is? Recognizing that you’re feeling stressed improves your ability to cope with that stress.

It’s not unusual for adults to have the emotional literacy of a preschool child.

Teens who can’t identify feelings experience stress as depression.

Under stress, it’s common to misidentify emotions. If the only label you have for feelings is bad, you may not be able to tell the difference between the discomfort of stress and the more severe condition of chronic depression. One significant study found that teens who couldn’t identify various types of negative emotions were very prone to interpret their stress as depression.

The response that you use to feelings depends on identifying the feeling.

If you’re feeling irritated, you may want to find out why rather than respond with a default response of anger. The way you should react to guilt should be quite different than the way you respond to failure or rejection. Feeling restless doesn’t have to be in the negative; it can spur you to do something different. But you can’t fashion the correct response unless you can identify the feeling.

It’s easier to identify physical health than emotional health.

A great deal of material on the Internet these days is devoted to staying physically healthy. We can identify when we are overweight, have diabetes, experience high blood pressure, are having headaches, not getting enough sleep, or having some other physical health problems.

When it comes to poor emotional health, most people can identify the symptoms they have early enough to do anything about them. If you’re coughing and cannot go to work, you’ll probably call a doctor. If you too depressed to get out of bed or too anxious to leave the house most people are more likely to accept these problems is just the way they are because they can identify what they’re experiencing as anxiety or sadness.

Feelings illiteracy is an important component of emotional intelligence.

If you can’t recognize your feelings will have a great deal of difficulty empathizing with how other people are feeling. There are many occupations which allow you to work without interacting with other people. Your feelings can give you important information about the nature of those interactions. Being able to tell how the other person is feeling will facilitate and improve the relationship.

How would you know if you were emotionally literate?

The characteristics of feelings literacy or being emotionally literate include the ability to recognize what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it. You need to be able to put a name to that feeling. Identifying the feeling would allow you to decide what you want to do with that feeling. You should be able to manage your emotions. Emotional literacy involves the skills to repair emotional problems. Emotional literacy is a fluid skill in the more emotionally literate you become, the more you’re able to integrate all of these qualities of emotional literacy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Fast Stress reduction.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Stressed out

Stressed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to quickly defuse stress.

Life is full of stress, some good and some bad.  Even the good kind of stress can wear you down. The longer you hold on to stress the more harm it will cause you.  Work on releasing your stress as rapidly as possible. Avoid stress when you can. Eliminate unnecessary stress when possible. For the unavoidable stresses in life try practicing some of these rapid stress reduction methods.

For less stress focus on your breathing.

Breathe slowly, breathe deeply.  Rapid shallow breathing increases anxiety.  Slow, deep breathing relaxes and destresses you.  Anytime you feel overwhelmed shift your focus to the way you are breathing. In goes the oxygen, out goes the stress.

Change the music.

Music strongly influences our moods. The music you listen to can reflect your mood; it can also change your mood.  When you are feeling stressed, put on some soft, relaxing music. Instrumental music can be especially relaxing. Music connects with our inner feelings in a deeper way than words alone.

Cool down for less stress.

Chill out to reduce your stress.  Your body temperature can affect the feeling of stress.  When you are feeling under stress, pay extra attention to the way, your body experiences the temperature.  When possible turn on a fan, move to a cooler spot or drink something cold. A small desktop fan can blow away the stress along with the heat.

Give yourself a timeout to allow your stress to subside.

Allow time for you to think things over instead of reacting too quickly.  Look for ways to disengage from the stress if only for a few minutes. Counting to ten is a start. Longer timeouts are even better. Glancing away when safe, even for a moment, can help to interrupt the cycle of escalating stress. Taking short breaks will not detract from your productivity. Those rest breaks will keep you at top efficiency.

Disengage from artificial environments.

One quick way to reduce stress is to re-engage with the natural world.  Get outside for a few minutes.  Pay attention to the trees, the flowers and the world around.  Artificial environments can add to your stress. Spending some time in nature can reduce that stress. In times of stress, reconnect with nature. If you can’t get outside, try looking out a window. Having a houseplant on your desk can be relaxing.

To destress move your body.

Do a little exercise, take a walk. A little bit of physical exercise can be a great help in reducing and managing stress.  It does not need to be strenuous exercise.  Get up and walk around, take a trip to the copy machine or the water cooler.  Something as simple as shifting your body position can take the strain off your muscles and allow you to refocus on the task at hand.

Life becomes less stressful when you can picture the outcome you want.

Visualize having overcome your obstacles.  Sitting ruminating about your problems only magnifies the stress.  Think about what it will look like, what others will see, when you have overcome this obstacle.  If you can picture a positive result, you are on your way to overcoming your stress. When you shift from a problems orientation to a results outlook, the process of getting to your goal is less stressful.

Fuel and rest your body.

Drink some water. Your body and brain do not work well when you are dehydrated. Eat a snack, a good lunch to cope with stress. Low blood sugar will interfere with your body’s ability to run efficiently.  Don’t neglect nutrition, hydration or to get an adequate amount of sleep.  A worn-out body is less able to cope with stress.  Avoid high sugar snacks and heavy meals, both of which can result in a temporary boost of energy followed by a deep crash.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.