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Mental Health Use this forum to share your mental health concerns and to seek advice.

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How do I deal with my stress? - March 8th 2017, 11:38 PM

Ever since I was a kid, I remember just always being stressed on everything, big or small. When I got into high school it got really bad, so bad that I was hurting myself subconsciously and my friends took notice. Ever since then (about 2 months ago), I have tried ways to calm my stresses, but nothing has really helped. I have recently also gotten a ton of work in my classes and that has pushed me completely over the edge. I have been crying over the stupidest things, just because I need to do something, anything, to try to calm myself down. Do you guys have any tips on how I can be less stressed all the time?
   
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Re: How do I deal with my stress? - March 9th 2017, 07:06 AM

Stress activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). (You can research that.)

This is the "fight or flight" response.

Normally, when we're not being chased by a tiger, we are in the other state, the "Rest, Digest, Restore" state. This is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). (You can research that too.)

In our present day world there's way too many things to stress over, and so many people are way too stressed. And they haven't been taught how to mitigate stress, and all sorts of health problems ensue.

Things that work to slowly mitigate stress and keep it at bay are vacations and relaxing. If that doesn't work, there's mindfulness meditation, and mindfulness motion exercises such as yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong. Mindfulness meditation is a way of training the brain to focus on the present moment, and when your mind wanders, let go of the thought and return your focus to the present moment. Start with 30 seconds, or one minute. Eventually you can work your way up to 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. If you do it every day for 15 minutes for 2 months, it will actually slowly rewire your brain and you will actually become a calmer, more peaceful, less stressed person. (This change can be seen on fMRI images.)

Still you need a stress free environment. Somewhere you can go for 15 minutes and actually do this mind exercise. I like doing it in a group setting, as that helps my brain feel I'm a part of a tribe, so I must be safe because there are other people around, so my primitive emotional midbrain can relax.

If you've been stressed since you were a kid, there may be some other thing going on. A talk therapist might be able to figure it out. Maybe Asperger's, or some form of autism, or some medical body imbalance that a doctor or psychiatrist doctor could identify and treat. (This is all somewhat speculative.)

Feeling overwhelmed is definitely not good. I had to drop a class when I was in high school because I knew I had one too many classes, more than I could handle, and I knew if I dropped one class I could handle the rest. At first they wouldn't let me drop a class. So I just picked a class and chose to do zero work in it and get an 'F' in that class. Eventually the teacher and office people realized I was totally serious about this, I did absolutely zero work in the class, and on the fist test I left it totally blank, with just a brief explanation that I was planning to get an 'F' in this class and do no work because I had too many classes. They let me drop the class and had me go to the school library instead during that time.

Now that I graduated I'm glad I did that, as there's no reason I should push myself too hard and be miserable, and I graduated anyway, and I had a better time in school.

(This kind of stress is also what pushes many students to use drugs and alcohol, which of course just leads to addiction problems, which they then have to deal with. The ones who recover learn it's important to take care of their mental and spiritual health. You'll be ahead of the game if you can skip this addiction step and go straight to taking care of your mental and spiritual health.)

Schools seem to be paying more attention to student's mental health and stress issues. They may already have counselors and programs set up to help their students stay mentally healthy and well. (Currently one of our three local high schools does have an organization that focuses on keeping their students mentally well. Another school has an Al-Ateen group. I don't know if the third high school has anything.) Or there may be a community mental wellness place that does the same thing.

For me it's meditation and support groups that keeps me well. Support groups give me the human connection I need, and meditation helps keep my brain healthy and de-stressed. (It took a lot more than that to get me de-stressed though, but that's another story.)

Best wishes!

Here's a free book on meditation someone wrote:
http://www.spencershermanphd.com/id4.html
and a brief intro to Mindfulness the same guy wrote:
http://drspencersherman.com/Mindfulness.html
There's also meditation apps you can try. One is called "Headspace" that I use.
   
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