How to Relieve Stress When You’re Completely Overwhelmed

Apr 19, 2019Mental Health, Self Care

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Did you know experiencing high levels of stress increases your risk of death by 43 percent? When I  learned that, it stressed me out even more because I experience stress almost daily . From work to family and friends and everything in between, life can get pretty stressful. We’ve all heard of the most common ways to relieve stress but what I recently learned will help you even more.


Before we begin, so what does stress look like? For those of you who have no idea(none of us lol). Based on this Ted Talk stress symptoms include…

  1. Restlessness
  2. Irritability
  3. Moodiness
  4. Being Overwhelmed
  5. Feeling Isolated
  6. Forgetfulness

Stress is the feeling you have when you feel like you can’t keep up with the demands of life. A feeling of being underwater. And because of it, we’re not ourselves. We can be emotional, moody and irritable. Lashing out over the smallest things and not feeling stable. Does this sound like you?  


But what happens to our brain when we’re stressed?  Based on this Ted Talk from health psychologist Kelly McGonigal stress effects our brain size and how it functions. To get technical,  stress releases cortisol which prepares us for instant action.

Having high levels of cortisol on a consistent basis increases our fears signals and deteriorates the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory and stress control. So the part of the brain that’s responsible for managing our stress control is lessened when we experience high, ongoing levels of stress. I don’t know about you, but I’m screwed. Lol.


 So how do we deal with stress in a healthy way that will help us build stress resilience? Based on her Ted Talk and some tips that I’ve been implementing here’s how.

 Daily me time


Giving yourself and your mind time to decompress and relax from the hectic day is essential. This includes my favorite, meditation or yoga. But it doesn’t have to be that,  try anything that helps you to relax. This could be cooking, reading, journaling, the possibilities are endless. The goal is to take some time for yourself each day, whether that’s 5 minutes or 1 hour.


Sweat it out


Exercise seems to be the solution to everything these days. But hitting the gym and sweating out some of that stress will leave you feeling refreshed. And on a scientific note, it releases endorphins, making you feel more relaxed and positive.

Positive thinking


According to the Mayo Clinic overcoming negative self-talk is a powerful and effective way to manage stress. Their advice, don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else.

This involves reframing negative thinking. Instead of viewing something as a challenge or burden, what is the opportunity in this situation? What is the positive side of the situation?

Sometimes when stressed you’re overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done. A simple change of perspective would be to view this an opportunity to become more organized and to schedule me- time.(Actually having a plan and having things scheduled has helped tremendously with relieving my stress and helps me feel more in control). Try it out for yourself.


These last three were the most surprising and helpful tips that I took from her Ted Talk.


Stress is helpful


The research that was completed showed that a high level of stress increased your chance of death by 43% but only if you believe that stress is bad for your health.  With that, regardless of the amount of stress that you experienced, if you believed that stress was helpful it did not increase your risk of dying.

According to the research, if we believe that the symptoms of stress(our beating heart, for example) is our body preparing us for a challenge or that we were energized,  it did not increase your risk. So stress is your friend, this simple reframe could change your life according to researchers.

Those who viewed stress as helpful were less anxious, less stressed and more confident. So how you think about stress makes a difference.


Stress increases social relationships


What they also found was that when stressed it releases oxytocin which urges you to either talk to someone about how you are feeling or seek support from others. Therefore increasing your social relationships.

Stress resilience techniques


Seeking support, viewing stress as helpful and also spending time caring for others are all stress reduction and resilience techniques. Those who spent time actively caring for other people not only experienced less stress but were also better able to bounce back from stress.

They also didn’t experience the side effects listed above( deterioration of learning, memory and stress control and increased fear signals to the brain).


Summing Up

So the key to relieving stress- human connection and taking care of your body and mind. Who would have thought? So next time mom calls and you’re tempted to reject her call, that short conversation is helping to build your stress resilience and help you relieve stress, lol. What helps you relieve stress?