when you think of StressIt may bring negative feelings to mind. But some stress is good for you, like the expectation you feel when you start a new relationship or job. It can fuel excitement and make you want to do and achieve more. stress It can also help you prepare for challenges or respond to dangerous situations.
Good pressure doesn’t last. They boost your mood to meet the moment, then disappear. If you are under stress for long periods of time, it can become overwhelming and affect you both physically and emotionally.
David Prescott, Ph.D., associate professor of health management and public health at Husson University in Bangor, ME.
“If we remain under chronic stress, our response to physiological stress is taxed beyond what it was designed to do, and it begins to weaken us.”
The effects of chronic or long-term stress can be harmful in and of themselves, but they can also contribute to it depression, a mood disorder They make you feel sad and uninterested in the things you normally enjoy. depression It can affect your appetite, your asleep Your habits and your ability to focus.
“The effect of stress on depression, and vice versa, is one of the most important problems of our time,” says Carol Landau, PhD, clinical professor at Brown University.
The stress and depression connection
“We believe that the causal relationship between stress and depression “It’s what’s called ‘bidirectional,'” Prescott says. “One can cause the other, the other can cause the first, and both can make each other worse.”
The ways depression can lead to stress are pretty straightforward.
“Depression disrupts your life, so you are often more isolated,” Prescott says. “Sometimes your personal network shrinks and you stop doing a lot of activities, like work or school or things you enjoy. We know that this kind of isolation makes your perceived stress level rise, so we know depression can set in. cause stress. “
There is good evidence that the opposite is also true.
“Severe stress, like a divorce or a huge financial change, is a major stressor, and brings out a kind of psychological balance. If you keep raising your stress levels, something is going to happen, and often it is depression,” Landau says.
But the causes of stress contributing to depression are less clear.
“It’s quite clear that chronic stress raises the level of depression,” Prescott says. According to a Mental Health Survey report from the Mental Health Foundation, levels of depression among members of Generation Z rose by about 4% or 5% between pre and postpandemic.
“We believe that social isolation, disruption to normal activities, and general stress from having your kidneys or work disrupted seem to increase depression levels. But I’d say we don’t know, causally, exactly how that happened.”
Make lifestyle changes
Sometimes a few small changes can break the cycle of stress and depression, starting with a more positive mindset.
“If you’re stressed and feel like you’re starting to get depressed, the biggest thing is to have a more active coping strategy in the way you’re going to deal with your stress,” Prescott says. “Don’t just think you’re going to have to suck it up and take it.”
A more active coping strategy could include:
- Playing sports. Only 30 minutes from Physical activity 5 days a week is enough to make a difference. Activities like yoga And the Tai Chi, which slows things down and helps you relax, are useful for reducing stress.
- Avoid overeating or drinking. These things may make you feel better temporarily, but they are not helpful. In addition to being physically harmful, they can make you feel guilty and worse about yourself. Excessive alcohol intake can affect your sleep and make you slow down the next day.
- Limit caffeine. Overeating can make you feel irritable and increase stress. try to reduce coffeesoda and other caffeinated drinks.
- Quit Smoking. idea that smoking Cigarettes can help you deal with stress, which is a common myth. While nicotine helps you relax instantly, this feeling is short-lived and can create more stress through cravings or withdrawal.
- Make time for yourself. Do the things you love to do or that make you feel good. Be calm with yourself and focus on the things you do well.
- Stay away from stress. If you know something or someone is bothering you, do what you can to avoid that situation or person.
- asleep we will. Making sure your mind and body get enough rest can go a long way toward relieving stress. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours for adults each night.
“If you are depressed and trying to reduce the impact of stress on your life, it is important to overcome this belief that ‘nothing I do is really going to matter,’” Prescott says. “This is not true in most cases. It may not change everything, but overcoming this kind of desperate belief is a big thing.”
Looking for support
“Depression is a state of dissociation,” Landau says. “So one of the most important things is to find a way to connect. Adding two people you’ve known from the past and finding a way to connect is very important.”
Talking with friends and family can help you better understand the causes of your stress, which can be a huge step forward.
“If stress and depression are playing around with each other, it can help to sort of help articulate and pinpoint the stressors that are causing the most vulnerability in your life,” Prescott says. “We all end up feeling stressed out” in general, but it’s really helpful to pinpoint the kind of things specific you get.
“It helps if someone says things like, ‘How do you deal with your stress? or “Tell me about your mood?” or “How are you?” Then just listen.
“Often, what helps people isn’t specific advice like, ‘Do this or do this,’ but just an opportunity to talk to someone who cares. Ask an open-ended question like this and then bite your lower lip and listen for a while.”
If talking to friends or family doesn’t do the trick, you can talk to a professional. cognitive behavioral Processing CBT is one way to change your perspective and approach.
Cognitive behavior Processing It’s important because we want to be able to take back control,” says Landau. CBT helps you focus on the little thing you can accomplish today, how you can implement it, and how you can evaluate it. So it’s a great learning tool as well as a therapeutic tool.”