This April, we are recognizing National Stress Awareness Month to bring attention to how excessive amounts of stress can negatively affect not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. Recognizing stressors in your life and how you can manage stress can significantly improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Dr. Tasnim Khan is the co-founder of ShaMynds Healing Center– the name plays on the combination of the words Shaman and Mind. Their goal is to help people through their healing journey and release one’s self-limitations to be the brightest and best version of themselves. Dr. Khan, who has over 27 years of experience in the healthcare field, has navigated her own personal mental health journey and is spreading her decades of knowledge and experience to help others on their path to wellness. In support of National Stress Awareness Month, Dr. Khan answered some commonly asked questions about how people can define their stress and anxiety and overcome the debilitating feelings they may face.
- What are some physical symptoms/manifestations of stress that people should be aware of?
Stress is a unique experience. Some may associate stress with a quickened heartbeat, but it can manifest physically in a number of ways, from muscle tension through the neck, shoulders, and back; to headaches and fatigue; to digestive and skin issues. Stress can even weaken the immune system, precipitating increased risk of illness.
- What are some common misconceptions about stress and anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are not the same thing. Stress is a response to a perceived threat, while anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, which is often accompanied by physical symptoms. First, stress and anxiety are not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it alerts the mind to potential dangers. Crossing a busy street, for example, may spur anxiety, which helps keep you alert. Stress, however, provides motivation to achieve goals, lighting a fire for progress. Second, stress and anxiety do not arise only around major life events. The simple challenges of everyday life may cause symptoms.
To that end, stress and anxiety are not signs of weakness. They can affect anyone, regardless of how well people typically deal with such challenges. Finally, stress and anxiety cannot be eliminated completely. They are a natural part of life. As such, people need to learn to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety – whether that is through meditation, exercise, or other coping mechanisms – so they become smaller and more manageable.
- With the alarming rise of mental health conditions in the US, why is it so important for people to seek help?
The intense demands of modern life, coupled with increased social isolation, have exacerbated the mental health crisis in America. Finding support for your mental health will improve your long-term quality of life, positively impacting the way you show up for yourself and in your relationships, whether at work, school, or home. Ultimately, many mental health problems are treatable. Working with a health care provider, you can develop coping skills early on, which can serve you throughout your life, as challenges big and small arise.
- How can friends and loved ones support the people in their lives who suffer from extreme amounts of stress and anxiety?
Supporting a loved one suffering from extreme stress or anxiety is hard. The best thing you can do is listen without judgement. Let your loved one know – you are a safe space. Try providing practice help, whether you help cook dinner or research therapists in their area. Encourage self-care and practice self-care. Try sharing a meditation you like or organizing an outing with mutual friends. You both benefit! Finally, try to be patient. Extreme stress and anxiety are physically and mentally taxing. Celebrate progress, even when it looks like small steps forward.
- Tell us about your experience with alternative approaches to healing? What are they and how do they help your patients?
We turned to alternative approaches to healing when we saw that traditional medicines were [sometimes] unsuccessful at helping the patients feel better. At ShaMynds, we practice Integrative Medicine and we embrace the concept that we are whole; the physical body, mind, emotions, and spirit exist together in confluence. We believe you cannot treat the mind without addressing the whole person.