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9 Common Stressors You Need to Avoid to Protect Your Mental Health
Dealing with mental health issues such as depression or addiction should be a major wakeup call that it is time to begin taking care of yourself. While you learned excellent strategies for recovering during your treatment program, it is important to continue to avoid stressors that could trigger you to have a relapse. Unfortunately, life in the real world is full of events that you might not always be able to control, but you can head off much of the stress by avoiding certain situations or at least being mentally prepared to handle them. As you begin to rebuild your life and confidence, avoid these nine common triggers that can interfere with your potential for achieving your goals.
Romantic Relationship Conflicts
Being in love naturally increases endorphins that make you feel amazing. However, your mood can quickly go crashing down when things are not going as well as you hoped. This is why single people are encouraged to avoid starting new relationships in the early stages of recovery. Worrying about how the other person feels or dealing with those early relationship conflicts can generate greater feelings of anxiety that are not beneficial for your mental health. Those who are already in committed relationships must take great effort to avoid falling into negative patterns of behavior. For example, you may need to take a conflict to your family counselor to prevent having a major argument.
Many people go through life without realizing how much stress piles on throughout the day. Yet, it is those little day-to-day stressors that all add up to negative emotions. Spend a few minutes thinking about all of the things you must do during the day. From paying bills to cleaning the house and managing your work obligations, it is no wonder that you feel completely worn out by the end of the day. If possible, find ways to delegate some of your daily responsibilities until you are ready to take on more duties. If that is not possible, then find ways to fit adaptive coping methods into your daily routine. Even if you just spend a few minutes playing an instrument or performing a yoga pose, it will help you combat the feeling of stress that builds up over the day.
It is common for mental health issues to interfere with your ability to maintain a stable job. This is why it is important to find ways to return to employment once you are back at home. Although starting a new job is stressful in itself, this helps to head off other stressors such as losing your home or vehicle. For some people, finding part-time employment is beneficial since it allows for you to slowly ease back into the routine of having somewhere to be each day. Alternatively, you may find that working full-time helps you to fill your schedule so that you do not fall prey to boredom. Either way, you will want to find something that works with your schedule if you are attending after care counseling or addiction recovery sessions so that you can stay on track for your mental health goals.
When you have experienced trauma, it is normal to have specific events, people or places that trigger you to feel similar emotions to what you experienced during that time in your life. As you heal, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of exposing yourself to these triggers as much as possible. For instance, the sound of fireworks may bother you if you deal with PTSD from war, or you may simply need to avoid returning to your childhood home where you were abused for years. Traumatic reminders can also be as simple as a song or the sound of thunder outside. Learning how to manage these triggers when they cannot be avoided with personalized coping methods can ease the stress they place on your body and mind. Putting on headphones during a storm and listening to music or skipping that family event where your abuser is present are important ways to take care of yourself so that you do not relive the trauma.
Challenging Family Members and Friends
Spending time with others is important for your mental health. However, socialization can quickly become a stressor when you are forced to interact with people who do not have your best interests in mind. Perhaps you have a best friend who views the world with negativity, or maybe your parent has never fully accepted your lifestyle. Sadly, some of the people in your life may act as though they mean to be helpful, yet you find yourself drained after being in their presence. Recognizing toxic people and avoiding them as much as possible helps you maintain a positive outlook on life.
Financial issues often accompany mental health issues since things like anxiety or PTSD make it harder to manage your responsibilities. If you have fallen behind on paying bills, then initiate a plan to slowly rebuild your credit and pay back your lenders. Alternatively, you may have started living above your means during a period of mania, and you need to scale back your lifestyle. When you find the process of recovering your financial stability overwhelming, reach out to your counselors and support network for ideas on how to get things going in the right direction again. Learning how to save money while also meeting your monthly expenses helps you avoid being stressed out by things like collection notices and shut off utilities.
Social Media Interactions
Spending time online has become a popular pastime that serves as a distraction from life’s stressors. Unfortunately, it can also turn into one when you do not manage your interactions carefully. Online, it can often seem as though people are living happier lives than yours since people tend to only post the best pictures of their happiest events. Or, you can run up your anxiety by reading about the sad news as well. Limit your time on social media, and seek out positive stories when you do go online.
Grief and Loss
When someone very close to you passes away, you might not be able to avoid going to their memorial or funeral service. However, you will need to make an effort to be surrounded by support while you grieve. The grieving process makes you vulnerable to falling back into old patterns, and it can even trigger you to relive old traumas.
Being lazy and having nothing to do may sound like a dream come true when you have dealt with a lot of stress in your life, but boredom is in itself a stressor. This is because not keeping your mind occupied provides room for negative thoughts to creep in. Whether you are ruminating on being left out of an invite to hit the town with friends or you are worrying about your health, these kinds of thoughts do nothing but bring you down. Have a list of activities in mind to help you fill those little pockets of time where boredom can creep in so that you can relieve your stress.
Throughout life, stressful events will arise, but you now have the coping skills to make it through. Avoiding these stressors will help keep your mind focused on positive thoughts, and leaning on your support network will get you through any stressful event that can’t be avoided. By following this well-rounded approach to protecting your mental health, you will succeed in finding joy again throughout your recovery.