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  • Writer's pictureLay Jordan

Stress and healthy coping mechanisms

Updated: May 19, 2021

Stress is a common emotion that can be felt by a range of people regardless of age. Often stress stems from too much pressure being put on us by others — or in some cases by ourselves. Stress can range from Mild-Tolerable-Significant-Toxic. Their stress level is based on the individual because every person has their scale of what is tolerable vs what is toxic.

People also react to stress differently. Understanding stress and stress reactions will not only benefit you by creating an understanding that will help you improve your relationship with others, but it will also help you understand your own emotions. Understanding signs that may be stress, gives you more capability to look at it objectively and figure what’s causing it and what to do in the next steps.

Different types of stress reactions

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Emotional stress reactions are when emotions interfere with your ability to do things. I listed some things you may experience below.

  • Anxiety

  • Guilt

  • Frustration

  • mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Apathy

Behavioral stress reactions emphasizes the changes in your behavior/ actions that can stem from stress. I listed some things you may experience below.

  • Avoidance of situations

  • increased alcohol drug and or tobacco use

  • change in sexual behavior

  • hyperactivity

  • increase in Risky Behavior

  • Cynical attitudes

  • Change in normal activity

  • Withdrawal/Isolation

  • Crying spells

Physical stress reactions are focused on the physical consequences of stress. Some things you may experience are

  • Over-tiredness

  • stomach discomfort

  • headaches and muscle aches

  • sleep disturbance

  • appetite and eating changes

  • Decreased resistance to colds, flu, infections

  • A flare-up of allergies, asthma, or arthritis

  • Hair loss

  • Increased heart rate and respiration

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Acne

Spiritual stress reactions are focused on spiritual beliefs such as religion or any other personal beliefs you have in terms of life.

  • Feeling of emptiness

  • doubt in religious belief

  • loss of purpose of life

  • needing to prove self-worth

  • negative about life

Cognitive stress reactions focus on the mind and memory, so some reactions may include...

  • Nightmares

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Blaming others/ Paranoid thoughts

  • Poor job performance

  • Forgetfulness

  • Negative self-talk

  • Loss of objectivity

  • Inability to stop thinking about the disaster or an incident

These stress reactions can impact your interpersonal relationships as well.

Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take a break: This may seem like you are isolating but set a scheduled time for that break to end if you feel like you are at risk for falling into isolation. A break is something we all need to collect ourselves and our thoughts. When you do this I want you to be honest to yourself about what’s bothering you, what do you have control of in that situation, and what you can realistically do. People sometimes overextend themselves because they always feel like they could be doing more when some things are just out of their hands.

  • Take care of yourself: This means to ensure even the most basic of your needs are being taken care of. Make sure to eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.

  • Build a support system: Find people to share your problems with and how you are feeling. This can be with a significant other, parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor. However, just note that a support system is a mutual thing, and if you need to set boundaries because you are unable to handle certain topics, make sure that is a conversation beforehand.

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol if there’s a high chance of substance abuse: These may seem to help you at the time, but they can create additional problems in the future, and a person becomes reliant or even addicted. Just be cautious of your consumption.

  • Recognize when you need more help: If problems continue and you are at risk of harmful behavior (i.e you are thinking about suicide) talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.

Take time to understand your stress reactions

Understanding my stress reaction has greatly improved my progress in stress management and my interpersonal relationships. A lot of the content, I just shared was from the mental health training course I took on May 5th for my internship. They said after the training, we will get more resources and certification to talk about mental health, which I was extremely excited about. With that being said a lot has been going on.

I haven't posted a blog post in so long because currently, I'm dealing with a lot of stress in my life. As you all know, it is May, and for college students, that means the semester is wrapping up. I have been working on many final projects, final essays, and finals. There is a sense of burnout for me because I struggle with not trying to perfect my work. My past school was very competitive when it came to grades, so two years later a lot of my validation still stems from how I’m doing in school. I’m taking time to learn to better balance my energy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Besides occupational stress, there were social situations that just pushed everything over. I was already having an internal crisis where I was once again questioning my friendships, but not because of them but more so over my own needs. I feel like I have friends, but not many people who it’s possible to confide in. Like I mentioned before, a support system is necessary, but it also needs to be something mutual. Additionally, I was in a situation between people, and that was the thing that kind of toped everything. I was confused, found myself having extremely negative thoughts and blaming myself even though it wasn’t about me, but I was just in the middle. Eventually, I realized that reaction was because I’m still traumatized from the last time something similar happened. I was friends with two people in high school before things took this massive turn and got even messier, it was a little more complex because they were exes. They were talking badly about each other, telling me how they each planned to cut each other off, and overall it was messy from all sides. Stuff like that I would rather not know because when you are friends with both, there is just this guilt that comes with knowing information like that until you become restless. I relieved a lot of those same emotions that night because I’m not good with interpersonal conflicts. If I am only friends with one person in the situation, it’s easier to navigate because I can give advice objectively.

From that experience, I learned that some of the stress reactions I have at extreme levels of stress are sleep disturbance, nightmares, withdrawal/isolation, crying spells, trouble concentrating, mood swings/ irritability, anxiety, and nausea. So pretty much a lot of my reactions are a mixture of the different types of stress reactions.

I am doing a lot better than I was, which is why I can talk about it. I am planning to take a break from engaging in my personal life and knowing I’m prone to isolate makes it much easier to navigate with how I am going to work through my current state.

That is all for today and I hope you found this helpful. I don't usually post this late but I had a lot to do finishing up finals week. Remember to subscribe to my Youtube channel, and follow my Instagram and Twitter to connect and stay up to date. I am excited about next week's blog post so make sure you come back next Saturday. Until then, there’s a lot more content on my youtube channel. I hope you have a good day, evening or night.

Until next time,

xoxo Lay 💋

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