Experiencing stress in our daily lives is unavoidable. Stress is a much broader concept than anxiety in that it refers to the response your body has when you are facing situations that force you to act or adapt to your environment. Stress serves an important function in that it communicates to you that your body’s resources are being depleted in some way.
All human beings have a limited amount of resources available to deal with situations they encounter. We only have so much emotional and physical energy available at any given moment and the more situations we encounter that use up these resources, the more stressed we feel. This can also impact our ability to be effective in these situations.
One of the components of managing stress is to increase our available emotional and physical resources by taking good care of ourselves. One of the primary strategies related to this concept is to make sure you feed your body nutritious food and maintain healthy eating habits. Just as your car will not run on an empty tank of gas, you cannot function well unless you are given yourself much needed fuel throughout the day. It is also important to think about what you eat: You will not be functioning well if you only eat junk food or processed sugars throughout the day. It is important to make sure you get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins in your diet. Just as your body needs proper nutrition to run well, it also needs adequate sleep. Sleep serves that important function of giving your body time to restore its resources and build up the mental and physical resources that have been used throughout the day. Keeping a regular sleep pattern is crucial to this goal. Another way to reduce the taxation of stress upon our bodies is to get regular exercise. Exercise helps build up our physical resources to manage stress over time. Finding appropriate ways to incorporate physical activities into your daily routine (walking, gardening, biking, etc.) is an ideal first step. Finally, increasing your sense of self-confidence is an effective way to increase our mental resources available to manage stress. This can be simplified to doing something every day that makes you feel capable and in control of your life.
Reducing vulnerability to stress and other negative emotions is a component of emotional regulation skills which are taught in the DBT Skills group provided at Specialized Therapy Associates. Should you have any interest in enrolling in the DBT Skills group, please call 201-488-6678 for details.