How to Manage Stress

Written by on April 18, 2022

Stress is inevitable. It can be caused by family or the home environment, work or school, relationships, planning for big occasions, major changes in your daily routine. Whatever the cause of stress may be, it’s important to note that it can be managed.

If left unchecked, long-term stress can cause major issues with your mental or physical health. “Research has shown a connection between stress and chronic problems like high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and more” (Bhandari, 2020). Because stress, whether small or large, triggers our brains and bodies into thinking it’s being threatened, we lean into a fight-or-flight mentality. However, challenging our brains to take control of our stress is possible.

Stress Management Strategies

Self-Talk:

How one talks to themselves makes a big impact on how they go about their life. With negative self-talk, stress can start to pop up in unexpected ways. It can cause you to not even realize that you’re under stress. However, by creating space for positive self-talk, you are challenging your brain and finding a way to mitigate stress. 

Stress is inevitable. It can be caused by family or the home environment, work or school, relationships, planning for big occasions, major changes in your daily routine. Whatever the cause of stress may be, it’s important to note that it can be managed.

 

If left unchecked, long-term stress can cause major issues with your mental or physical health. “Research has shown a connection between stress and chronic problems like high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and more” (Bhandari, 2020). Because stress, whether small or large, triggers our brains and bodies into thinking it’s being threatened, we lean into a fight-or-flight mentality. However, challenging our brains to take control of our stress is possible.

Stress Management Strategies

Self-Talk:

How one talks to themselves makes a big impact on how they go about their life. With negative self-talk, stress can start to pop up in unexpected ways. It can cause you to not even realize that you’re under stress. However, by creating space for positive self-talk, you are challenging your brain and finding a way to mitigate stress. 

Negative to Positive:

  • Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
  • Instead of saying, “I hate it when this happens,” say, “I know how to deal with this – I’ve done it before.”
  • Instead of saying, “I feel helpless and alone,” say, “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
  • Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I screwed up,” say, “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix it.”

(American Heart Association, 2021).

Relieve Stress Through Actions:
Stress has a terrible way of ruining our day or our mood. Since we are talking about challenging that, a great way to do so is by doing something you love. Every time you feel stressed, spend 10-15 minutes doing an activity that you love. That can look like:

  • Taking a walk
  • Meditation or yoga
  • Sip a relaxing cup of tea
  • Read a chapter in a book
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Call up a friend
  • Exercise

Find Your Breath:
One of the quickest and most effective ways to relieve stress is by finding and focusing on your breathing. Breathing in and out is something our bodies do naturally, but we rarely notice. When our heads are spinning out of control, it can be helpful to notice your breath for 30 seconds to a minute. Notice what it feels like as it comes in through your mouth or nose. Does it tickle your nose or get stuck in your throat? Can you observe your breath without interfering? Once you notice your breath for a few seconds, breathe in as normal and then try extending your exhale. Feel it deep in your body and focus there for a few seconds. This type of breathing can slow down your nervous system and alert your body that the danger is over. Finding your breath also allows you to think before you react or speak.

If you struggle to maintain a stress-free life, there are things you can do to help keep stress at a lower level. Maintaining a healthy diet of nutritious and vitamin-rich foods can help your body cope through the tense sensations it might feel during extremely stressful situations. Always finding humor in your day-to-day can help lighten your mood. Don’t underestimate the power of relaxation before bed such as including a hot shower or bath, stretching or a massage. 

If you are worried about how stress is affecting your physical or mental health, seek out professional help from a physician or therapist.

Resources:
American Heart Association. 3 Tips to Manage Stress. 2021, October 4. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/3-tips-to-manage-stress.

Bhandari, MD, Smitha. What Does Stress Do to The Body?. WebMD. 2020, November 17. https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-and-the-body.



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