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Stress and Mental Health

Stress is your body’s reaction to a potentially dangerous event or a demand, according to the medical encyclopedia of the US National Library of Medicine. This means stress isn’t necessarily good or bad. For example, some levels of stress can be a good thing if it motivates you to flee danger or meet a deadline at work. 

Everyone experiences some degree of stress, but the problems arise when occasional, situational stress becomes chronic stress. Dr. Hadi Estakhri at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health understands chronic stress can take a toll on your mental health, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and/or depression. 

In the meantime, this is what you need to know about stress and mental health, so you can improve your quality of life. 

How does stress affect your mental health?

It’s no secret chronic stress can lead to physical issues such as problems sleeping, weight gain, increased risk of heart attack, chest pains, headaches, weakened immune system, GI upset, and even hair loss.

Stress doesn’t just impact your body. It takes a toll on your mental health, too. Chronic stress can contribute to:

According to WebMD, if stress levels remain unchanged, it can trigger (or exacerbate) anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Six ways to manage stress

Don’t wait until your stress becomes too much to handle. Be proactive, and use these tips to better manage stress:

1. Exercise

Exercise helps reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), but it also increases feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins. Neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) like dopamine and endorphins help boost your mood and combat stress. Try adding more walks, a jog, or even yoga to your regular routine.

2. Spend time doing a relaxing activity

Set aside at least 30 minutes each day for a relaxing activity. Reading a book, meditating, coloring, or practicing deep breathing can help quiet your mind and lift your mood.

3. Set goals

Feeling overwhelming with an unending to-do list is a common problem, but setting goals can help you feel less stressed. When you can see your list, it’s easy to prioritize and tackle the items on the list. Keep these tips in mind:

4. Get enough sleep

Quality and quantity of sleep are essential for your physical and mental health. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

When you’re running low on sleep, your mental health suffers. You might notice increased daytime sleepiness, increased brain fog, increased irritability, and difficulty making decisions.

5. Eat a well-balanced meal

What you eat doesn’t just fuel your body, it fuels your mind too! When you’re stressed, you might be tempted to snack on comfort food, but eating a well-rounded meal is more beneficial.

Experts at Harvard Health compared the average Mediterranean and Japanese diet to the standard American diet and found that the veggie-rich Mediterranean and Japanese diets can reduce your risk of depression by 25%.

How is this all linked?

Almost all (95%) of your serotonin is produced in your gut. The next time you’re feeling stressed, skip the ice cream and chips and try hummus and veggies instead.

6. Speak up when you first spot the signs of high stress

If you’re practicing stress management techniques but still struggle to feel at peace, you’re not out of options. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Whether you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, we can help you find relief.

Reducing stress through mental health care services

Another thought to consider: It’s not just occupational demands that increase stress levels. Untreated mental health conditions can also have an impact.

For instance, unmanaged ADHD can lead to feeling stressed about work deadlines. This is just another example of how treating mental health conditions affects your life on many levels.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, we can help. As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Estakhri can support your mental well-being through both traditional and alternative therapies.

According to a 2016 study published in Psychiatry Investigation, TMS treatments (which we offer) can boost your mood and reduce stress levels, especially in those with high-stress jobs. 

Need to talk?

At Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health, it’s our mission to support your mental health. To learn more about your options, call our Newport Beach, California clinic at 949-258-7135. You can also visit our website to schedule an appointment.

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