Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Stressed: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Dec 23rd, 2020 & updated on May 20th, 2021
Ohhh, man… You’re feeling stressed, they’re stressed, we’re all stressed! It’s a real problem for so many of us and a super common emotion to go through. And the number of things in our lives that cause us stress… is endless. For a lot of us, our lives are constantly go, go, go! There’s always something keeping us on our toes, no matter how hard we try to stay on top of the to-do lists. We can feel stressed about our course load at school, how we’re performing at our jobs, managing our finances, and not to mention our personal relationships. Seriously though, the amount of stressors we’re facing on a daily basis? THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST.
Look, you’re not alone. Sometimes when we’re stressed out, we look around at other people and feel like they have it all together. Meanwhile, you’re starting to fall apart because you have no idea how to manage everything you’ve got on your plate. But the truth is, everyone deals with feeling stressed at some point. Okay, more like a lot of the time! It’s a universal experience. Sing it with us, wildcat: We’re allll in this together! We’re here to help you get through this chaotic, overwhelming and totally not-fun emotion.
A Deeper Look At Feeling Stressed
We all know what it’s like to feel totally stressed out. But if we wanna dig a ‘lil deeper, what does stress really mean? The APA Dictionary defines stress (n.) as “the physiological or psychological response to internal or external stressors.” It goes on to say, “Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.” Huh, seems legit.
Types of Stress
There’s actually different kinds of stress that you could be experiencing. And believe it or not, not all types of stress are bad for you. Say whaaat?! You heard that right, Hannah Montana: stress has the best of both worlds. Here’s what different types of stress look like:
Acute stress is the short-term stress we deal with on a daily basis, like running late for work or rushing to finish an essay on time. This can be positive because it doesn’t last forever and motivates us to accomplish what we need to get done!
Chronic stress is not our friend. We feel like it will neverrr end and because it’s so long-lasting, it’s harder to manage this feeling over time. This form of stress can happen when you’re in a bad relationship, or dealing with burnout from your job. It can also be caused by trauma you may have experienced.
Episodic acute stress typically occurs for all of you busy bees out there who take on wayyy too many responsibilities, projects or commitments than you can’t always handle. This type of stress usually looks like you’re always in a rush, running late, or disorganized.
And lastly: Who stress? You stress? No, Eustress. This is another positive form of stress that’s actually fun and keeps you going with adrenaline like the Energizer bunny. It’s super helpful when you’re working away to meet a deadline, or when you’re playing sports.
We know, that was a lot to absorb. And if you’re here looking for ways to deal with feeling stressed, it’s safe to say you’re probably dealing with one of the negative types. So let’s get more into the mental and physical signs of when your body is dealing with negative stress and how you can overcome it!
How Feeling Stressed Shows Up Mentally
Feeling stressed can take a huge emotional toll on our wellbeing. Duuuh. But really, our mental health can suffer if we don’t find ways to manage our stress whenever it comes up. Stress can lead to burnout, depression and anxiety. In short bursts, stress it totally fine and a normal thing to experience on a regular basis. But when it becomes a long-term issue, that’s when it can really impact your mental state.
Instead of turning to poor coping mechanisms to deal with stress, like smoking, alcohol, or taking it out on your loved ones, it’s a good idea to find healthy ways of working through this feeling. That way, you don’t risk forming bad habits or cycles that are hard to break later on. We’ll get to the positive coping strategies soon! So stick with us.
How Feeling Stressed Shows Up Physically
Okay… brace yourself. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but stress shows up in a LOT of different ways physically. And none of them are great for your health or wellbeing. Here’s the looong list of physical symptoms our body can show under stress:
- Mood swings
- Sweaty palms
- Low sex drive
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Digestive problems
- Feeling sick more often
- Grinding teeth
- Low energy
- Tense muscles
- Body aches and pains
- Racing heartbeat
See? We told you it was a lot. Over time, these physical symptoms can be super hard on your body and lead to potential health problems in the future like diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, ulcers and more. YIKES. This is why finding ways to tackle your stress before it advances is sooo important. It affects our physical health just as much as our mental health!
5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Stressed
Here it is, friends. The moment (or rather, the super helpful tips) you’ve been waiting for! Our in-house mental health professional has outlined some coping strategies for dealing with stress. And they are on point! Try ‘em out whenever you’re feeling stressed, and we guarantee you’ll feel sooo much better.
1. Practice deep breathing
Try it with us: breathe innnn, and breathe outttt. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing has actually been proven to lower anxiety and reduce stress (which you could use right now). Plus, deep breathing slows your heart rate and provides your brain with enough oxygen to chillax.
2. Move your body
Let’s get physical! Go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, dance, you name it. Exercise releases endorphins and improves your mood. Plus, it actually boosts your energy and improves focus. It does alllll the things.
3. Reach out to a support person
Your loved ones are there for a reason! When you need to talk through how you’re feeling, lean on the people you trust. Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference.
4. Progressive muscle relaxation
This is a helpful technique for reducing stress that involves tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in, and then relaxing them while you breathe out. Repeat as needed!
5. Engage in something soothing and comforting
Spend time with your pet by cuddling them or taking them on a walk. Touch something comforting like your fave cozy blanket. Brew some tea or your drink of choice. Do whatever makes you feel calm and safe!
There you have it, friends. Whenever you’re feeling stressed AF and need a little guidance, don’t worry. We’ve got your back! Try out these tips and you’ll feel ready to take on the world again in no time. And if you’re looking for even more tips, here’s a whole guide to stress management and even 8 things to say to someone when they’re stressed! But if you’re dealing with chronic stress, please seek help from a professional so that you can look after your wellbeing.