Manage Your Stress the Healthy Way

4 min read
Evidence based
Dainius Jakucionis, MD
By Dainius Jakucionis, MD Updated on 2024 Jan 23

Stress is inevitable. 

Identifying the stressors in your life is the first step toward managing and eventually eliminating your stress.

Luckily, Sensa helps you do just that!

Let’s take a look at how.

Identifying stressors 

We all experience stress in some way – a small amount of it is good for us; that’s what gets us up when our alarm goes off in the morning.

Too much stress, however, can lead to us becoming exhausted and is one of the most significant contributors to developing fatigue. 

Our stressors can be internal or external, and we might recognize some but not others. 

External stressors can include:

  • Death
  • Illness or injury
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Heavy workload
  • Adapting to a big change
  • Being the victim of a crime

Internal stressors can include:

  • Expectations
  • Misconceptions
  • Assumptions
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Demands

It might seem obvious when you think about it, but when we are affected by many different stressors, we become stressed. 

Our stressors might only be small things that don’t really seem to affect us all that much, but when they build up, they can become difficult.

Identifying and addressing these minor stressors significantly reduces the overall stress you might be feeling.

There are three kinds of stressors, which are categorized as objective, subjective, and interactive.

Objective stressors 

We typically understand these things to be stressful situations, such as moving house, an illness, or even positive things like planning a wedding. The amount of stress we experience from these objective factors can be a result of our subjective stressors.

Subjective stressors

These include our thoughts about our experiences and how they affect us. If you’ve ever been late for work, you will recognize this kind of stress; we might ruminate on negative thoughts, such as beating ourselves up for snoozing our alarm, and these thoughts contribute to our overall stress levels.

Interactive stressors 

This is the way we interact with our environment and the effects this has on our stress levels. We have already explored the positive impact a healthy diet and exercise can have on our tiredness, and this is one-way interactive stressors can affect us.

Understanding your stress

Awareness of these stressors, such as overthinking our lateness, can allow us to combat them. If we instead focus on the reality that it has happened and that there is nothing we can do now, it can help us balance our thoughts and reduce our stress.

Taking small steps, such as expressing your concerns about your heavy workload to your supervisor, can help remove these stresses.

This might not be easy, though – there are many things in life that we simply can’t control. It’s when we face these that our response to them matters. For example, being stuck in traffic is stressful, but there’s nothing we can do to make it go any quicker. 

If we can become better at accepting this and sitting with it instead of allowing ourselves to worry about it, we will begin to be able to release these stressors and move towards a more peaceful life.

Managing your stress

I want to introduce you to the idea behind Sensa – CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.)

The basis of CBT is the idea that our thoughts are the causes of our feelings and looks into ways we can change this.

This is just one of a variety of models that have been found to help manage stressors, and it highlights the ways our thoughts impact our emotions, behavior, and physical sensations. 

All these can be triggered by a stressful situation; our thoughts influence our feelings about that situation, affecting our physical sensations and behaviors. These then continue to interact in a cycle that can be difficult to break.

Everyone has so many thoughts throughout their day, it’s actually believed that around 90% of these aren’t even registered. The ones we do register, however, can have a huge impact on our emotional well-being. 

Repetitive thoughts then form habits, which become almost unconscious to us. When these thinking habits are negative, they are referred to as “cognitive distortions.” These unhelpful thinking habits then affect our emotions and are likely to lead to distressing ones.

Some examples of these unhelpful thinking styles include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking – Thinking in extremes that are unrealistic.
  • Overgeneralizing – Finding small patterns and jumping to assumptions that these apply at all times.
  • Mental filtering – Focusing on the negative evidence that confirms our inner thoughts and ignoring the evidence against it.
  • Catastrophizing – Immediately thinking that the worst will happen.
  • Should – Applying the word “should” to everything we do, leads to unrealistic expectations about ourselves.
  • Labeling – Applying often unhelpful labels to ourselves or others.
  • Personalization – Blaming ourselves for everything that happens, regardless of whether we have any control over it.

These thoughts are often unconscious, so the first step to overcoming them is recognizing them; once we know they are there, we can begin challenging them.

The Sensa app is designed to work with you on a daily basis, for just 5-15 minutes at a time, and gives you the tools to understand, manage, and combat your stress.

Dainius Jakucionis, MD

Dainius is a renowned psychotherapist, holding a Master’s Degree in Medicine and additional training in Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy.