Stress Awareness Month: 9 Ways to Manage Stress
April is Stress Awareness Month! Stress can have a significant effect on our overall well-being and mental health, contribute to depression and anxiety, and even cause physical ailments, such as high blood pressure, acid indigestion, and chronic pain. Making an effort to reduce stress through healthy practices and lifestyle adjustments is just one of the many important ways to prioritize your physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
- Try meditation
Setting aside some time to relax every day helps manage stress and promotes calm. Mediation is an ancient practice that focuses on achieving a mentally clear and an emotionally serene state. There is a variety of meditation and breathing techniques to try, such as deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness meditation. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are plenty of books and online resources available on the subject to guide you.
- Eat and drink for health
Many people often look to comfort food, indulge in alcohol, or overeat to combat stress. However, these things in excess will have only a negative effect on your health and wellness in the long run, which will exacerbate your stress levels. Drinking too much caffeine will also make you feel jittery and increase feelings of stress. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet filled with foods rich in antioxidiants and drinking plenty of water will have a positive impact on your mood and help you feel more relaxed.
- Quit smoking
If you’re suffering from overwhelming feelings of stress, it may feel impossible to quit smoking or using nicotine products. However, though having a cigarette or vaping nicotine may seem like it relaxes you while you are using it, nicotine is a stimulant that actually has the opposite effect. It can increase heart rate, affect your breathing, and increase headaches and chronic pain – none of which are good for stress!
- Exercise regularly
Exercise is a great stress reliever because it increases feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, boosts your energy and increases overall wellness, and helps you release pent-up energy so you’re left feeling relaxed and in a better mood. Cardio, aerobics, weight training, yoga, and tai chi are all great ways to burn off stress and feel great – mentally and physically.
- Avoid triggers
While avoiding stress completely is impossible, we often put too much pressure on ourselves to get things accomplished and please others. When you can, try not to put yourselves in situations where you know you will be uncomfortable, don’t take on more than you can handle, and set realistic goals and priorities for your schedule.
- Prioritize self-care
Our busy, jam-packed schedules often leave us with very little time for ourselves. Between work, school, childcare, housework, errands, and other mounting responsibilities, it’s easy to forget to take a break and do something you enjoy. Make it a priority to set aside a chunk of time each day to engage in a hobby, pamper yourself, or even just listen to music or watch a favorite show to unwind and recharge.
- Get enough rest
Stress is exhausting, and exhaustion causes stress, which is a suffocating cycle. Getting adequate rest each night will help you feel clear-headed and energized, better equipped to tackle the day’s tasks without feeling overwhelmed. If you often have trouble falling or staying asleep, try shutting off all screens when you get to bed, putting on soothing music, or drinking an herbal tea known for its relaxation effects, such as chamomile. Avoid drinking caffeine late in the day or exercising less than two to three hours before your bedtime.
- Maintain a work-life balance
Work burnout is one of the most significant causes of stress. Inflexibility, overwhelming workloads, lack of PTO, or expectations to consistently work past standard business hours can all contribute to a stressful work environment. Whether you are starting a new job or struggling in your current position, be sure to communicate your boundaries to your employer and prioritize your mental health.
- Consider counseling
If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed with stress to the point where it is interfering with your daily life and mental wellness, treatment can help. One-on-one counseling and group therapy can teach you effective techniques for coping with stress and help you better manage the negative emotions stress causes. At LiveWell Counseling, a Christian Health service, our therapists provide compassionate, gentle care in a welcoming, nonjudgmental setting to help you get back to a calm and healthy state of mind.
To learn more about LiveWell Counseling or to make an appointment, please call (201) 848-5800.