What causes stress in your life? Take a few minutes and think about it. Are answers such as work, family commitments, relationship conflicts, or health concerns coming to mind? These common daily stressors affect everyone on some level.
But stress often has root causes that go deeper than just what is going on at work or in your personal life. According to Julie Geeting, LPC, NBC-HWC, “Your stressors and their roots are influenced by your personality and your habits, as well as things happening on a larger scale in the world.”
Global issues such as war or a pandemic contribute to a baseline level of stress felt by everyone, regardless of whether they are directly involved, which makes everyday pressures feel even more difficult to manage.
On an individual level, some situations may act as more aggressive stressors to you than to someone else because of how your personality is wired, and you may react to this stress differently than others.
In order to manage stress effectively, it’s important to address it in three steps. First, treat the physical symptoms of stress by calming your body down. Then, find peace and quiet in order to calm your mind down. This will give you the space to then reflect and become aware of your stressors and how they affect you.
Take Care of Your Body
As you may know, your mind, body, and spirit are interconnected, so stress doesn’t affect only your mind. And you’ve probably felt the physical manifestations of stress — you might get shaky, tense, or fatigued. It’s hard to truly calm your mind down if your body is wound up and holding onto that stress, so relaxing your nervous system, muscles, and bodily tension is always an important first step in treating your stress.
Wellness therapies such as the Trilogy at PALM Health are a great way to accomplish this. The Trilogy features a cryotherapy session followed by an infrared sauna session, finished by a Himalayan salt room session. Cryotherapy soothes inflammation in the body that may result from excess stress and releases endorphins for a mood boost. Infrared sauna sessions help with detoxification and releasing bodily tension, while salt room sessions promote relaxation and reduce inflammation. When combined, these services can be incredibly helpful for managing your stress.
Other things you can do to relieve tension and treat stress in your body include practicing yoga, getting a massage, and exercising.
Find Calm and Quiet
Between hectic schedules, media, and other distractions, there is a lot of noise — literally and figuratively — around you. It can be difficult to find calm and quiet in that environment without intentionally taking the time for it. But when you’re constantly in a loud and busy environment, your ability to think clearly declines and your stress levels inherently rise. Calmness is essential to be able to listen to yourself and reflect, which is what will not only give your mind a break, but also allow you to recognize and address the things that regularly bring you stress.
Try to find some time every day to simply sit quietly, without technology or other distractions, and bring your mind to a calm state, making sure your body is calm too. Meditation and techniques such as Cardiac Coherence can be particularly helpful with this. Cardiac Coherence is a breathing method that engages your parasympathetic nervous system in a way that stabilizes your heart rate and blood pressure and encourages positive emotions and a harmonious rhythm of your body’s functions. Learn more about how Cardiac Coherence breathing influences your emotional state here.
Become Aware of Your Stressors
Once you have taken some time to wind your body down and get calm and quiet, you may have a greater ability to reflect upon your own stress. Consider using curiosity. Try observing yourself and see what you notice. This is best done with gentleness and self-forgiveness. Reflecting on ourselves in an overly harsh or perfectionistic way will often prohibit the awareness and development we are hoping to foster.
What are some of the things that make you most stressed? What happens to you when you are stressed? How do you react? Why do some things bring more stress to you than others?
Your personality plays a big role in the answers to many of those questions, and working to understand your own personality better can help you become aware of your root causes of stress. According to the Temperament and Character Inventory, a personality test developed by Dr. Robert Cloninger, psychiatrist at PALM Health, your ability to handle stress in life is measured by three character traits: cooperativeness, self-directedness, and self-transcendence. Cooperativeness measures your capacity for helpfulness and empathy; self-directedness measures your ability to set goals and take responsibility; and self-transcendence measures your sense of unity with the world and awareness of yourself as a part of something bigger.
At PALM Health, the InSight personalized stress management assessment and plan can help you learn more about your personality, your stressors, and the blockages that may be interfering with your resilience.
This two-week program will allow you to experience PALM’s unique and multifaceted approach to mental health and stress management with:
- Three appointments with experts to connect your mental, emotional, and physical health: Experience a visit with a psychiatrist, a counseling session with a licensed counselor, and a Functional Wellness Consult with a nurse practitioner.
- A comprehensive personality assessment: Complete the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) personality assessment and review your results with a well-being coach to determine what your unique root causes of stress may be as well as areas of your personality you can strengthen and lean on for resilience.
- Tools for in-the-moment stress management: Learn and practice the Cardiac Coherence breathing technique with a well-being coach to calm your parasympathetic nervous system in moments of high stress. Plus, explore options to add on services like cryotherapy that work to treat the manifestations of stress in your body.
- Consistent support: You won’t be alone. Check in with your program coordinator and providers regularly throughout the program to track your progress and stay accountable.
- Helpful resources: Receive a binder with educational materials, worksheets, and other tools to help you continue learning about and planning for stress management.
- A plan for the future: Review the findings of your InSight assessment, discuss your experience, and make a plan to stay on track post-InSight with a licensed counselor.
The InSight assessment and plan will help you go beyond the surface to understand and manage your stress from its root, rather than just dealing with the symptoms of stress.
“Stress is a normal part of life that can come from your environment, your body, and your thoughts,” says Julie Geeting. While some level of stress is helpful and keeps you motivated and moving forward, too much can become problematic for your health, so it’s important to know how to manage it.
Taking the time to treat the physical symptoms of stress, finding quiet and calm in your life, and working to become aware of your personal stressors and reactions will help you explore and develop techniques for in-the-moment stress management. But more importantly, these steps will help you dig deeper into the roots behind your stressors and what you can do to work on your stress from the inside out.
PALM Health is an innovative, whole-person medical and wellness company that helps people reach and maintain well-being. Our experts in medicine and wellness empower people to transform their health, become more resilient, and feel their personal best in mind and body.