Would you consider yourself stressed out? For most of us, stress is a constant factor in our daily life. Whether it is work deadlines, family obligations, or relationship work, stress can pop up around every corner. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, stress can cause a variety of physical and emotional harm that can make it impossible to function. Without being armed with the knowledge of stress dangers, as well as how to get help before you find yourself overwhelmed and struggling, you are unprepared to cope well with life stressors.

Stress and the Body
People of all ages can, and do, experience stress. Unfortunately, thanks to outside pressures and technology that includes social media, childhood stress is at an all-time high. For everyone, no matter the age, extended periods of stress increase the levels of cortisol in the body. This extra exposure to the hormone can cause a weakened immune system, disrupted sleep, and physical discomfort from headaches.

Stress and Mental Illness
For those living with mental illness, stress can be especially harmful. Prolonged or intense periods of stress can cause people living with mental illness to have an increase in symptoms or in mood cycles. For example, stress can trigger manic or depressive episodes in those people living with bipolar disorder as well as increase hallucinations in those living with schizophrenia.

Stress Prevention
While it is nearly impossible to completely prevent all types of stress, people can make healthier choices to live a less stressful lifestyle. Further, learning a variety of coping skills can combat stress and decrease unhealthy side effects.

Consider moving your body more and drinking more water. Exercise and healthy nutrition is a key component in giving your body an outlet for stress relief, as well as building more resiliency. Get plenty of sleep and when possible, avoid stressful situations if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Most importantly, and especially if you are living with mental illness, make a commitment to regular counseling. If you don?t already have a mental health professional on your healthcare team, find one near you by checking out our Get Help page. Regular talk therapy sessions can assist everyone with identifying stressful situations and working on healthy coping skills. Your counselor or mental health professional is also your advocate as you determine which, if any, prescription medications are best for you as well.

Finally, stress amplifies when you are alone. Find a group of peers, friends, and family members that are ready to encourage and support you during stressful times. This network is key to keeping you laughing, feeling loved, and kicking stress to the curb.

Make this month the month you take active steps to get your stress levels in check. We are cheering you on!

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