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“Breaking the Cycle: Managing Stress and Anxiety for Better Mental Health wellbeing”

The world is witnessing an unprecedented time when stress and mental health problems are taking a pandemic proportion. According to a WHO report published on July 22, nearly one billion people were living with mental health conditions worldwide in 2019. Among them, the maximum number of people have an anxiety disorder. Stress is also affecting our society far more significantly than ever before. The majority of people in India have the problem of stress at their workplace. Their working environment is stressed and toxic. Even otherwise, we have concerns regarding financial constraints, health issues either physical or mental, and relationship problems. They all contribute to stress. Mental health wellbeing is important for stability in life.

Mental health wellbeing

What’s stress?

Stress and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues people experience today. They can be caused by many factors, right from work-related stress to personal problems. India is moving fast towards an endemic situation. Stress affects our life’s quality in many different ways. Stress and anxiety are among the biggest threats to mental health. These twin problems can lead to physical, emotional, and mental health problems if left unaddressed for a long time. Stress contributes directly and indirectly to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, anxiety, depression, etc.

What’s anxiety?

Stress is the body’s natural response to any demand placed upon it. Although we often work under stress, it can lead to anxiety if it becomes chronic and unchecked. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of unease, worry, or fear about future events or outcomes. While it can be a normal human response to a stressful situation, excessive and prolonged anxiety can cause significant harm to a person’s mental health.

The effects on mental health wellbeing:

The effects of stress and anxiety on mental health can be huge. Both these health conditions can lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue, as well as emotional and mental symptoms, such as irritability, low mood, and a lack of motivation. Over time, prolonged stress and anxiety can lead to more severe mental health problems, including depression, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders. Both these issues of stress and anxiety are interlinked. One can potentially leads to another if not managed well. Their symptoms may even overlap.

What are the strategies to handle stress and anxiety: It is hence necessary to handle both stress as well as anxiety effectively. Before the symptoms are aggravated, we need to take steps to contain their severity. Some websites like Mind Therapy uses free online tests for stress, anxiety, and depression. People can know their severity. Some of the effective strategies are briefly explained below: 

Relaxation techniques:

There are certain deep relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation that can reduce our stress level and anxiety by ensuring relaxation and reducing tension in the body. ‘Pranayam’ or breathing exercises are effective, especially for managing anxiety. One special kind of ‘pranayam’ is known as the 4,7 & 8 breathing technique.

We inhale breath in for 4 seconds, then hold the breath for 7 seconds, and lastly exhale breath in 8 seconds. It’s very popular and can also be used for inducing sleep. Mindfulness based meditation is another tool to promote mental health in very effective manner Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, both by releasing endorphins.

These hormones are released when we feel pain or stress or experience pleasurable activities. These are supposed to be natural mood boosters. It can also help improve overall physical health, which in turn can improve mental health. That’s the reason we feel good after rigorous exercise. So it’s highly recommended to reduce stress and anxiety.

Identify the triggers: To manage our stress and anxiety, we first need to identify the triggers that cause them. This may involve introspection; some do it by keeping a journal or diary to track stressful events. It can be beneficial if you find the root cause of the problem. Once that’s done, then it becomes easier for us to find ways to tackle the causes.

Social support system:

A strong support system can help us to manage stress and anxiety by providing comfort and security. Nurturing true and meaningful friends can go a long way to managing stress and anxiety and bringing happiness and positivity. They are the ones who can stand along with us during stressful and challenging times. 

Avail professional help: If stress and anxiety impact a person’s quality of life, seeking help from a counsellor, psychologist, or psychotherapist may be worthwhile. A mental health professional can help identify the root cause of the problem and provide us with solutions and strategies to manage it effectively. The right way of perceiving things and responding appropriately to stressors is a critical component of the therapy sessions

What are the ways of self-care for mental health wellbeing?

healthy and disciplined lifestyle is a critical ingredient of life, which we should not ignore. Practising self-care, such as taking time for oneself and engaging in activities and passions that promote relaxation, can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote overall mental health wellbeing.

A healthy lifestyle includes:

Taking a balanced diet.

Getting enough sleep.

Avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs, smoking and alcohol.

Engaging in activities and passions that promote relaxation and well-being.

Ultimately, managing stress and anxiety requires a holistic solution. Individuals can effectively manage stress and anxiety and promote better mental health and overall well-being by identifying the triggers, practising relaxation techniques, exercising regularly, building a strong support system, practising self-care, and seeking professional help when necessary.

Take away:

To conclude, stress and anxiety are two of the biggest threats to mental health wellbeing. They can have a profound impact on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health and wellbeing. They can lead to a range of health problems if left unchecked.