Are you stressed out in Memphis, TN My car won’t start, I’ve gotten a parking ticket, I was late for a meeting… These are the frustrations many of us deal with on a daily basis. But surely they can’t be pushing me over the edge?  Teaching the skills for coping with stress in one purpose of treatment.

When looking for the source of anxiety, most people focus on major aversive life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss. They tend to minimize the impact that daily stressors can have on overall mental health. But as many researchers are discovering, even though those annoyances are less intense, that these daily hassles are also more numerous and frequent, so the stress they cause builds up over time if your coping skills are not developed and may result in you feeling stressed out most of the time.

Coping skills are like any other skills; if you don’t learn them and use them, you lose them.  According to Charles et al. (2013), in their article entitled The Wear and Tear of Daily Stressors on Mental Health, the way in which individuals respond to seemingly minor events of everyday life predicts psychological health in the future. These authors discovered that people who reacted to daily stressors with a high level of negative affect (including feeling overwhelmed, worthless, hopeless, nervous, restless or fidgety) were more likely to develop anxiety or depression ten years later.  As you can see, learning the skills for coping with stress is not only helpful now, but also in the future, to keep you from feeling stressed out.

Whether your setbacks are big or small, what matters most is how you react to them through your coping skills. Though most people are inclined to believe that a mood disorder is always a reaction to a severe life experience, sometimes it is how you cope with all the smaller events that contribute to its onset. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, finding ways to deal with it effectively is extremely important to reduce feeling stressed out. While medication and counseling are essential, relaxation techniques have proven to be effective coping skills in reducing feeling stressed out, primarily because it is impossible to be both relaxed and anxious at the same time. If you bring your body to a state of relaxation, your mind will follow. To make a small change in how you cope with stress, try these relaxation techniques:

Guided Imagery: This is a process through which you visualize a pleasant scene, real or imagined, while in a state of relaxation. The goal is to create a relaxing place in your mind. The elements include finding a comfortable position, closing your eyes, focusing on your physical sensations, and practicing deep breathing. Then allow your mind to wander to whatever setting is most peaceful to you – a mountaintop, a beach, a forest. Imagery is most powerful when it appeals to your dominant senses – visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory – so pay attention to what you might see, what you might hear, what your body feels, and what it might smell like.  Taking this mental break can help you cope with stress throughout the day and easy to use.

Meditation: This coping skill refers to an internal effort to self-regulate your mind. It involves keeping your mind alert and attentive, and focused on the present moment, while pushing out all extraneous thoughts. It allows you to concentrate on some internal peaceful place and focus your attention away from stressful thoughts or feelings. Meditation will help you consciously concentrate on positive, self-affirming thoughts, as opposed to negative, self-defeating ones. You may choose to sit or lie down in a comfortable position, or choose an activity such as walking, and then begin to meditate by clearing the mind and focusing on your breathing. Some people find it helpful to repeat a phrase or sound as a way to keep intrusive thoughts away.

Other coping skills you might want to learn to reduce feeling stressed out include progressive relaxation, applied relaxation, and deep breathing. Whatever technique you choose to try, remember, relaxation exercises require frequent practice in order to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. If it feels uncomfortable or awkward at first, don’t give up!

Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, coping skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.