Stress, What Is It and What Can I Do About It?

Sonia Collier

June 4, 2024

Stress, what exactly is it and how is it impacting me? By definition: “Stress is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall well-being” (World Health Organization, 2023).

Often, we link stress to negative events, but it can be tied to positive events as well, for instance starting a business can be exciting as well as stressful. It can affect us both mentally and physically, however we still have the power to control how we respond to it. Some symptoms of stress are anxiety, increased frustration, headaches, upset stomachs, and body aches. This is not a comprehensive list but just some of what we can experience.

So how do we manage stress and its symptoms? Changing our relationship with stress can be incredibly helpful with managing it. Instead of only seeing negatives each time it comes up we can reframe our thoughts to be more curious which can lead to more effective problem solving. Showing ourselves compassion and recognizing that this is a natural response to our environment and situation can be incredibly empowering. Everyone has the capacity to manage what comes their way. Taking time for yourself to address these symptoms and the situation causing them allows us to regain control and move forward in a meaningful way.

There are many ways to manage stress, finding the right combination for yourself is most important. There can be pressure to do what everyone says is the right thing but if it does not work for you, it may inherently be causing more stress. Instead find what calls to you and brings you relief, even if it does not seem conventional. Here are four ways you can manage your stress.

Use the “Spoon Theory” to create healthy boundaries. In Spoon Theory spoons represent both the physical and mental load required to complete tasks. Every day we may wake up with a different number of spoons. The key is to always keep one spoon for yourself and use it for self-care. Boundaries, while hard at times, help us know what we can do and signal to others how we want to be treated.

Have a support system. Support systems can be key in helping in a variety of ways such as, social interaction outside of work, helping with childcare if needed, and creating safe spaces to go to. It can be helpful to know who in your support system you want to go to for different issues, for example, not everyone will understand the pressure of owning a business.

Have a hobby. Hobbies can be helpful with not only bringing joy but also a sense of accomplishment. These can help with getting your mind away from thinking about stressful situations all the time.

Consider therapy. Therapy can also be helpful as it can create a safe space for you to talk about what is going on in your life without fear of judgement. Whether it is an individual or group setting therapy can help with sorting through both the past and present stressors. Some resources for therapy are the Open Path Collective, Psychology Today, and contacting your insurance company.
Sabrina Santiago is a licensed marriage & family therapist, who received her Masters degree from Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology and Bachelors degree from University of California, Irvine. She has been running private practice for the last 7 years and work with a variety of clients that have presented with various, different needs. To learn more or for services visit

Sonia Alcazar Collier

Director of Communications & Public Relations, NEW Community Investments

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