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1. Strengthen Your Mind

Stress management techniques that strengthen and reinforce the body will also help to strengthen the mind’s ability to resist the negative effects of stress. But some stress management techniques directly deal with the mind—the thought processes, emotions, intellect, and, extending beyond the mind, the quest for spiritual meaning.

2. Avoid the Classic Mental Stress Spiral

Stress can cause or be caused by a variety of mental and emotional conditions. Working too hard, pushing yourself too far, spreading yourself too thin, taking on too much, or living in a state of unhappiness or anxiety is incredibly stressful. Like physical stress, mental stress makes life difficult, and the harder things are, the more stress they cause. You are caught in another downward spiral.

3. What the Spiral Looks Like

Perhaps you are experiencing difficulties in a personal relationship. This is stressful, but rather than deal with the problem, you throw yourself into your job, working long hours and taking on many additional projects. This new obsession with work adds more stress to your life, as do the long hours, the lost sleep, and the poor dietary habits you’ve developed. Your body begins to suffer, and so does your mind. At first, you may find you have an extra edge at work because you are channeling the energy from your personal stress into your work. But, eventually, you will reach your stress tolerance point.

4. The Many Forms of Mental Stress

Mental stress comes in lots of different forms. Social stressors include: pressure from work; an impending important event; relationship problems such as with a spouse, child, or parent; or the death of a loved one. Any major change in life can result in mental stress, depending on how the mind interprets the event, and even when an event is positive—a marriage, a graduation, a new job, a Caribbean cruise—the changes it involves, even if temporary, can be overwhelming.

5. Avoid These Negative Effects of Mental Stress

As a result of mental stress you might experience: an inability to concentrate, uncontrollable worrying, feelings of anxiety and panic, sadness, depression, fatigue, irritability, and a host of other emotions. Yes, some of these symptoms of stress can be directly connected to the body, but these symptoms are often a product of the mind and its interpretation of and obsession with or attachment to stressful events. How do you stress-proof your mind? With mental stress management, of course.

6. Manage That Stress

Stress management for the mind and the spirit is specifically targeted to help still, calm, and quiet the overactive mind. These techniques help you to recognize the thought processes that are increasing your stress, the attitudes that can trigger a stress response, and the way you tend to cling to ideas as if they were life preservers. Some of these techniques are related to physical stress management (specifically, relaxation techniques) because, again, mind and body are inextricably connected. But if you are experiencing even a few of the mental negative effects of stress or feel that your spirit is sorely in need of reinforcements and want to go straight to the source, try these stress management techniques for mind and spirit.

7. Don’t Let the Mental Turn Physical

If you allow stress to continue for too long, you could suffer burnout, losing all interest in your job as your lack of control increases. You could begin to experience panic attacks, severe depression, or even a nervous breakdown, which is a temporary state of mental illness that could occur suddenly or slowly over a long period of time.

Mental stress can be insidious because you can ignore it more easily than you can ignore a physical illness. Yet, it is just as powerful and just as harmful to the body and to your life. Ferreting out your sources of mental stress is an important key to managing your stress.

8. Find Your Spiritual Side

Whether or not you have religious beliefs, you still have a spiritual side. Think of it as the part of you that can’t be measured, calculated, or wholly explained—the you that makes you you. When we ignore our spiritual side, we throw our bodies out of balance. When our spiritual lives are further compromised because of the effects of physical and mental stress—low self-esteem, anger, frustration, pessimism, the destruction of relationships, the loss of creativity, hopelessness, fear—we can lose the energy and joy of life.

9. Identify Spiritual Stress

Spiritual stress is more nebulous than mental or physical stress. It can’t be measured directly, but it remains a potent and harmful form of stress that is inextricably linked to physical and mental stress. What is spiritual stress? It is the neglect of and the eventual loss of our spiritual lives, or the part of us that hopes, loves, dreams, plans, and reaches for something greater and better in humanity and in life. It is the noncorporeal within us, the soul.

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