Stress can spawn from various life events
A “Paper Chain of Healing” hangs on display at The HERO Project office in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. White links on the chain represent a time of self-harm for a youth while the colored links represent times the same youth found courage and strength to resist self harming. If youths need to speak to someone at The HERO Project, they can call 918-772-4004. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Stress can come in different forms and be caused by various events such as childhood trauma or everyday troubles.
Chris Wofford, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Services clinical supervisor, said in some cases stress from “past trauma” in young adults can present “similarly” to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or similar “disorders of attention.”
“So they might have difficulty focusing, difficulty staying on task once they start things, difficulty feeling calm or rested. Usually impacts sleep and certainly impact their ability to feel comfortable in groups or around other people. So sometimes that leads to some isolation and stuff like that,” he said.
For day-to-day stress, Wofford said it’s “a little more” identifiable.
“Just regular stress you know day-to-day, ‘I’ve got this homework assignment or I’ve got this task for work that I have to complete.’ Kind of similar, but usually it’s a little more identifiable,” he said.
Wofford said not treating stress could have negative effects on the body.
“There is a lot of research that says your psychological stress is going to manifest physically so ulcers or hypertension or you know a lot of times stress can lead to smoking or using some substance to cope and then that leads to addiction issues. Poor work performance or poor school performance certainly is correlated with having a lot of stress or anxiety as well,” he said.
Wofford said one of the “biggest” things is to “own” a feeling and not to shut them out.
“If you have a feeling about something instead of trying to shut it away or pretend it’s not there to just acknowledge that you have that feeling,” he said. “Then if you’re having trouble dealing with that feeling that’s when you would talk to either natural supports like family or where you might seek out the help of a professional.”
Regardless of where a young adult’s stress stems from, Wofford said it’s important to find “relaxation” activities.
“One of the basic things we teach to pretty much all age ranges that get services here is breathing. Nice deep, relaxing controlled breathing is a way for the body to communicate to the mind to slow down,” he said. “So for kind of everyday stress…just having some time where you’re doing things that you enjoy. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and quickly it can be overwhelming.”
Wofford said both mental and physical health should be treated the same.
“If you would go to the doctor for a broken leg it’s OK to go to the doctor for a broken thought,” he said. “Just get some help in repairing that thought or that thinking process and getting back on track and feeling like you normally do or like yourself again.”
One important message Wofford wants to get across is that when it comes to experiencing stress-related issues people are “not alone.”
“Many people have found a way through this and you will be able to as well. You’re not broken, you’re not crazy, you’re not anything except a person who’s experiencing life and has hit a bump,” he said. “We all have them, and we all deal with them in different ways, but it is absolutely OK to ask for help.”
For more information, call The HERO Project at 918-772-4004 or the CN Behavioral Health Adult Clinic at 918-207-4977.