Stress is a phenomenon that is universally experienced and yet unfortunately poorly addressed in our culture. Just reading the word stress, I’m sure a multitude of stressful things popped into your mind related to your life. Stress related to work, money, adjusting to a new environment, school, major life decisions, parenting, and the never-ending task-list that drains our energy. Sadly, burnout has become the norm in our culture, which encourages us to keep grinding to the point where our self-care is nonexistent. We sacrifice socializing with our best friend, going to our favorite yoga class, or seeing that movie we’ve been excited about for staying late at work, saying yes to another task we could have passed on, and overloading our schedule because we don’t want to be “lazy”. While “doing more” is certainly an inevitable part of life, chronically doing more creates a dangerous lifestyle of absorbing stress with insufficient outlets.
Chronic stress and the neglect of self-care doesn’t just lead to mental health difficulties (i.e. anxiety, depression, burnout) but also physical difficulties. Research has shown that chronic stress is related to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, overall weakened immune system, and even structural changes in the brain related to memory (to name just a few). Knowing the serious implications stress can have on your mental and physical well-being, it may be time to make a shift towards balance.
Although numerous treatments exist for stress relief, one of the most important first steps is recognizing that the current structure of your life is unhealthy. This step can be difficult as many people have internalized the “do more” and “level-up” attitude of our culture and will share “I don’t have time for self-care.” My priority beginning treatment is to explore your day to day life and chart out and categorize your stress. When we are able to see our lives mapped-out and clearly tipped towards stress it can be easier to reprioritize our self-care.
Once the need for change is embraced, I focus on co-creating a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle, personality, and unique interests. Through this collaboration I utilize both scientifically-backed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as treatment approaches. These treatments focus on cultivating more awareness of your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. When we can learn to recognize all components of the self, we are better equipped to manage and recognize our stress.