In this session, you will explore the impact that excessive stress has on mental health problems and the ability to care for others. Tips are given to lower stress and to recognize triggers of mental health problem symptoms so that better ways can be found to handle it.

What are the objectives of session 4?

  • To explain the link between stress and mental illness
  • To describe easy ways to lower the stress hormone
  • To highlight the importance of relaxation and self-care in supporting others
  • To emphasize the need to schedule pleasant activities
  • To explore triggers of mental health problem symptoms and ways to counter it

The stress cycle and mental illness

Excessive and chronic stress has a profound effect on the psychology and performance in our daily lives. Stress interferes with our sleep, natural biological processes, regenerative ability, and inner harmony and balance. It also makes it difficult to regulate our behavior and emotions. As a result, we can become reactive and impulsive and are less able to control our urges and compulsions. To be healthy, happy, able to perform and support each other, and have sound relationships, we have to learn to manage stress.

A healthy lifestyle (e.g. nutrition, exercise) and pleasurable social activities result in a reduction of cortisol—also known as the stress hormone—in the body, which prevents perceiving and reacting to unnecessary stress. Mood swings, depression, fatigue, and insomnia are ailments linked to elevated cortisol levels. It is also associated with impulsive, risk-taking, and other undesirable behavior, as well as poor decision-making.

Next, we look at how to reduce cortisol levels naturally.