Stress and Mental Illness

Making you AWARE of stress and mental illness...

Good mental health means that you have the ability to cope with everyday stress, as well as stress produced by the traumatic events. Stress is unfortunately part of life, so developing ways to minimize its impact is an important strategy in maintaining a healthy mental health lifestyle.

Physical and emotional stress can trigger changes in your brain which result in mental health issues. The goals of treatment are to first reduce the stress, then restore normal chemical processes in the brain. In order to reduce stress, we must develop coping skills to deal with the stressful situations in life. Each of us can develop better coping skills to reduce the impact of stress and improve our mental health.

What do coping skills look like?

1. Physical Activity - Get up and get moving. You don't have to go run several miles, but getting physically active does important things to your body that help with stress. Exercise releases endorphins in your body that help you reduce the negative impact of stress. Plus, physical activity is also heart healthy and has other positive impacts on your health.

2. Time to Yourself - Having a little time daily when you can be alone and escape the stresses of life is something everyone should strive to do. Give yourself a brief private time away from the whirlwind of activity that surrounds you. Whether it is a few minutes to read something of interest, sitting quietly, or going outside to enjoy the beauty of East Tennessee, find a few minutes to invest something back in your relaxation tank.

3. Friendships - Having friendships where you both are there for each other in good times and bad is an important ingredient for quality mental health. Friends you can trust to be there for you is a terrific way to reduce stress and share the burdens and challenges of life. Remember that you have a responsibility to be that kind of friend for others. Also understand that as you mature, your friends will include those older than you and even family members. The point is to build relationships where respect and trust help both parties navigate life.

4. Parents & Caring Adults - Your parents and other family members can be important ports in the storm. Family members should be there to help you in stressful situations, not simply bail you out. Also remember your coaches, scout leaders, youth directors or other caring adults who have invested time in your development. You know who these folks are who will be in your corner and provide wise counsel.

5. School Counselors - Your school counselors are trained professionals who have the role of helping you through life's stress. They want to help students learn how to better deal with challenges and the ways you can reduce stress. Get to know the counselors at your school. It will pay dividends for you as you have another trusted adult to lean on for advice.