Address Your Stress & Breathe a Little Easier

As we discussed in our last post, long-term stress is making America sick. If you can’t unload some of your stress, here are ways to manage it.

Re-calibrate your stress barometer

Pay attention to your state of mind, body, emotions, and other external factors. Usually, we don’t recognize our stress until we are burned out. We get caught up in life’s nuisances and neglect to check in with how we feel in the moment. What are you feeling emotionally: irritable, anxious, angry, overwhelmed, exhausted, helpless? What are you feeling physically? Your body may be alerting you to stress that you may not notice, such as frequent headaches, backaches, weight gain, and cravings towards alcohol, high-calorie foods, and other substances. Once you are aware of your present state of mind, it will be easier to address the stress before it overpowers your life, and prevent long-term stresses leading to burnout.

Schedule time for yourself

Self-care is the biggest factor in managing daily stress. Never hesitate to take time for yourself. It may feel selfish to carve out this time, but managing your stress not only helps you become happier, it also helps create better relationships and increase work-life satisfaction. The most important steps to daily self-care is to eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, exercise, and maintain a good sleep schedule.

If you’re feeling particularly stressed, find additional outlets to relieve that pressure. Can you take a vacation or even a mental health day? Do you have a Zen activity? Maybe this is a good time to go for a walk, pull out those knitting needles, or play with your crayons and paints. If you don’t have a Zen activity, is there anything that you’ve wanted to learn? Arts and crafts, music, and outdoor activities are some of the many ways to help manage stress. Engaging in such activities will reduce your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Seek the activity that resonates with you and helps you acquire a Zen moment.

News of the Thai soccer team stuck in the cave have resulted in a global discussion on the benefits of meditation for stress management. Several studies have shown that practicing consistent meditation can reduce stress and help people stay calm in times of distress. But if you don’t have a skilled practitioner at your side to guide you through your practice, or if meditation is not your forte, try yoga, stretching, or tai chi to alleviate stress.

Never be afraid to ask for help

Social support and meaningful relationships help make us more resilient to stress by releasing oxytocin, the hormone that improves mood and empathy. So instead of stress-eating, call a friend, play with your child, hug a loved one, or cuddle with a pet. And never hesitate to ask for help from loved ones, friends, or an expert when you’ve tried all you can and are still struggling to manage your stress.

Mom and Child_Unsplash 255699-Bruno Nascimento
While kids often make their parents feel more stressed, their laughter, hugs, and support are a powerful source of stress reduction. Don’t forget the hugs! (Photo by Bruno Nascimento)

Managing stress is a personal journey – how you manage stress will be unique to you. But it starts by finding the time, resources, and resolution to give yourself the love, tenderness, and care you deserve.

This post was co-written by Daphne.

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