Self-Help For Stress Relief?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I get stressed out very easily. I get stressed out over everything, even things I inevitably have no control over. Last week I just broke down and cried for no reason and then the next day I was some-what happy. I worry about things all the time, my mind is always caught up in thoughts. I was just wondering if I should seek professional help? Or is there anything I can do to stop this?

A. There are self-help books that you could read about stress reduction. One of the best ways to find high-quality books is to read book reviews. Psych Central reviews at least one mental health- related book a month and posts those reviews on the website. Amazon.com is another place to find book reviews. Books can be very helpful and informative but professional help may be a more efficient way to help you solve your problems. Therapists have studied these issues academically. I would recommend you do both, read books about stress and anxiety as well as enter therapy. In the meantime, below are some ideas that you may be able to utilize to reduce your stress levels:

  • When you feel yourself becoming stressed or upset try calling a supportive friend or family member. Talk to them about how you’re feeling.

  • Try to analyze what leads you to become upset. It may seem like there is “no reason” for an emotional reaction but generally, there is a logical explanation. This is how a therapist might be very helpful. He or she is an objective observer. A therapist may be able to highlight aspects of your thinking and behavior that you may be overlooking or don’t recognize as a problem.
  • Keep a mood or thought diary. It may help you to see a pattern that you were previously unaware of. Many people have found this exercise helpful. It may give you insight into what is causing you to become stressed.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member if they notice any unhealthy stress patterns.
  • When you become stressed, try engaging in activities such as exercise, meditation or yoga. Some people who experience high levels of stress have found these strategies effective. Another idea is to not wait until your stress levels are high and engage in regular physical activity. You may find that regular exercise leads to an overall reduction in stress.
  • Many things seem to induce stress in your life. You specifically mentioned stress associated with feeling a lack of control. It’s important that you tackle this particular issue. Why? Because in life there will be many, many situations that you will be unable to control. It’s important that you learn to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity. If not, it may continue to negatively impact your life and cause distress. Stress and anxiety tend to become progressively worse over time. The good news is that with treatment, psychoeducation, and sometimes medication, you can learn to overcome stress and anxiety. Many people have done it and so can you.

    I hope this answer helped in some way. Here’s a link to Psychology Today’s website where you can search for a therapist. Thank you for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Mar 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Self-Help For Stress Relief?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/03/10/self-help-for-stress-relief/