Stress can effect your mental health, your physical health, and cause social and emotional problems. As I discussed in my last post stress can manifest in 50 different symptoms in your body. It’s important to keep stress in check so that it does not develop into a chronic condition.
Before you can begin to manage your stress it helps to be able to identify where it is coming from. It’s a good idea to spend time reflecting on all areas of your life and to make a list of what is causing you stress. Keep in mind that stress can come from both positive and negative events. Getting married, going on vacation, having a baby, moving, and starting a new job are all positive things, but they are also sources of stress.
Once you have identified your stress you can move on to dealing with it.
The first thing you should do is take a break from whatever is causing your stress. This can be as simple as taking a walk during your work day, putting a project aside for an hour (or a day), or it might require you to get a babysitter, even for half an hour. Whatever allows you a chance to take a step back from your stress, and breathe. Sometimes that break allows us the chance to come back refreshed, with a new perspective on the thing that is stressing us out.
The next thing you should do is make sure you have a good support system in place. Whether that looks like a best friend who doesn’t mind listening to you unload about whatever is causing you so much grief and aggravation, or a professional therapist who can help you work through your stress and find some ways to productively deal with them. Everyone needs someone they can sound off to when things get crazy, and it’s a good idea if it’s not the person who you are married to/involved in a serious relationship with. Which is not to to say that they shouldn’t be part of your support system as well, but they shouldn’t be your sole support system. Have some people, and make sure you get together with them when things aren’t stressful as well.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. When you exercise your body releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body, often known as a “runner’s high”. This can reduce stress, decrease anxiety and depression, and increase your mood. Whatever kind of exercise you enjoy most will help reduce your stress and it can be as simple as going for a twenty-minute walk.
Similarly, meditation and yoga are also great stress relievers. These mindful practices help your body to relax, which decreases your level of stress and tension. An act as simple as sitting for five minutes with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing in a quiet room can be very beneficial if you aren’t able to engage in longer sessions.
When you are stressed out it is easy to let your self care fall to the wayside, but that is when it is more important then ever. I wrote about self care here and here, but it really is important to set aside even ten minutes a day for activities that make you happy and renew your spirit.
Finally, take time to enjoy life. Laugh, smile, and acknowledge the things you are grateful for. Having a positive attitude helps to combat stress, and can boost your mood. Spend time with people who make you happy. Watch something funny on T.V. or YouTube. Hang out with little kids.
And remember, this too shall pass. Hang in there.
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