It’s common to experience stress in everyday life. From small and manageable situations like a traffic jam to the seemingly unbearable, like a loved ones terminal illness, stress can occur in many different situations. Regardless of the cause, your body reacts to stress by flooding your body with hormones, that can cause your heart to pound, muscles to tense and increase your breathing rate. So it’s important to take steps to manage stress and improve your well-being.
Dealing with stress can seem difficult, but there are several things you can try to reduce or eliminate it. If stress is getting out of control and you need relief, try one of these tips to manage your stress:
Focus on positives
It can be easy to lose focus on what’s going well. When we’re stressed, we tend to look at the negatives and we diminish or ignore the positives. Pick and choose your battles. Some arguments are not worth having and can create more tension. Spend your time and energy on something that will be more constructive.
Keep a stress journal
The Mayo Clinic promotes the therapeutic benefits of journaling. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. It’s important not to overthink on what to write about, rather whatever comes to mind. Think of your journal as your own space, where no one else will read it, so you can be as open and honest as possible with no need to edit for grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper or computer screen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.
Almost any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever, even if you’re not an athlete or you’re out of shape. Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being.
Exercise can also refocus your mind on your body’s movements, helping to improve your mood. Consider anything that can help you get active like walking, jogging, participating in sports, biking or even housecleaning.
Listen to music
According to the Mayo Clinic, listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can provide a mental distraction, reduce muscle tension and decrease stress hormones. So, if you have a favorite playlist, tune in and let your mind tune out and absorb the music.
Read a book
According to a University of Sussex study, reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors of your daily life. It’s recommended to read fiction or biographies rather than news or current events, as they may trigger negative feelings.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
When your stressed it may seem difficult to plan your day, but procrastination and uncertainty can result in more stress. Doing things when you have more time can reduce the amount of stress you may have. Take 10-15 minutes before the start of your day to plan out what you need to get done. Having a list can keep you focused and completing the tasks can help increase positive feelings. It’s also important to manage your stress by knowing your limitations and avoid taking on extra responsibility if you can.
Practice breathing focus
According to the Harvard Medical School, breath focus is a simple, powerful technique, where you take long, slow, deep breaths. This is also known as abdominal or belly breathing. As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations. Please note, this exercise may not be right for you if you have health problems that make breathing difficult.
Use your support system
Sometimes stress can make us feel like we’re alone or make us want to self isolate. So, it’s important that we reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Friends and family can be great support systems when stressed because they provide support to tolerate life’s up and downs. So take a coffee break with a friend, call or email a relative or visit your place of worship.
If these self-care tips aren’t able to help relive your stress therapy or counseling may be able to help. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and provide you with coping tools to manage stress or eliminate it.
Not sure where to start? Student Members can start with CareConnect. Simply call 1-888-857-5462 to be immediately connected with a licensed counselor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. CareConnect counselors will provide in-the-moment support and determine the most clinically-appropriate next step. This includes counseling, or referrals to the Student Health Center, medical provider, or emergency services.
Students can also find a local provider or counselor by visiting their schools page on WellfleetStudent.com, and clicking on “Locate a provider in my network”.