A Stressful Moment Doesn’t Mean It Has To Be A Stressful Day

LITTLE TECHNIQUES FOR BIG CHANGES — Joel McArthur talks to Morgan Brown about the impact focused breathing and stretching can have on stress. By speaking in a soothing voice, McArthur can make clients feel at ease while he explains little techniques that could have a large effect on their stress maintenance. (Photo by Elisa Walker)

 

WARSAW — Stress is like a barrage of overbearing clouds that’s seemingly inescapable. Bills, work, responsibilities and worries in general saturate life in dismal hues of gray which can be overwhelming in life every day.

This happens when stress management and self-care have been lacking in daily life. Everyone gets too twisted in the hustle and bustle of life they forget to set aside some time for themselves and focus on the little things that can ease their mental tension.

“One of the things we’re seeing is that people’s lives are becoming increasingly busy and complicated,” explained Joel McArthur, founder of his own counseling firm, a licensed mental health counselor and a former teacher at Southwestern Michiana College. “So people don’t have as much time for self-care as they used to. There are several components for self-care. I recommend people take at least 30 minutes a day just to do something for themselves. Something pleasurable and relaxing.”

Counteracting stress and creating balance with relaxing activities varies from person-to-person whether it be running and listening to heavy metal music or reading and sipping hot herbal tea. Getting restful sleep is also another important factor in battling stress as cortisol can build up in the brain and increase anxiety if good sleep is put on the back burner.

“Stress can contribute to a number of physical ailments,” commented McArthur on the topic of unchecked stress. “It also leads to a spiral in health effects. So when people are anxious, it can be hard for their brain to shut down then their quality of sleep goes down which can increase higher levels of cortisol. They start the next day feeling tired and their critical thinking skills plummet. They become more pessimistic about life, have a lowered ability to problem solve and experience an increase in emotionality where they could overreact or under react to situations that occur.”

Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand. By putting a leash on stress and pinpointing the sources that cause it, it can be tamed and the mind will see sunshine again. Not all sources of stress are caused by situations; sometimes it’s a physiological or genetic occurrence which means there isn’t one specific situation to identify as a stress source though that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to control it.

“The way we start and end our day is very important in dealing with stress,” McArthur continued. “Some people will start the day by saying positives things to themselves like, ‘It’s going to be a good day’ or ‘I can handle whatever life throws at me today.’ The same thing in the evening before going to bed. Make some sort of effort to make a positive impact before you go to bed.”

There are techniques such as breathing exercises, stretching and mental focus that can thin stress out without needing medication or therapy. For more severe situations, there is financial aid available in Warsaw for people who may need to seek professional help. Various agencies offer grants and sliding scale fees while some pharmacies have cards that will discount medication.

“Everybody has stress in life at times and stress isn’t always caused by bad things. Getting married or getting a job causes stress, but it’s important to just realize that when it’s there in our life, avoiding it isn’t going to be helpful,” advised McArthur. “Trying to avoid stress is like throwing a boomerang. It will come back until you actually want to deal with it.”

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