Easier said than done, right? We’ve all read the articles: stress makes us sick, stress impacts our relationships and the workplace is more stressful than ever. And all that stress takes a physical toll, causing aches and pains, sapped energy levels, reduced immune system function and even feelings of depression or anxiety1. For some, those physical signs of stress lead to unhealthy coping and comfort measures, like sleeping less, smoking or drinking too much.
But no matter how stress affects our lives, it can be seemingly impossible to manage it, even for the most accomplished yogis and mindfulness practitioners. If we want to better manage stress with the hopes of improving overall wellness, the question is: how?
1. Get some space.
It sounds simple, but it works. If you find a situation stressful, remove yourself from it. This may mean slowly counting to ten before responding, going for a walk or doing something completely different to give your mind a break. During your break, boost yourself up with positive thoughts, find something good to focus on, listen to a favorite song or call an old friend. The point is to remove yourself from the situation for a few moments so you can return refreshed.2 Schedule regular downtime into your day or week to ensure you get the breaks you need from your stressors.
2. Move more.
It seems no matter the problem, the solution involves a recommendation for exercise and dealing with stress is no different. According to the American Psychology Association, 62 percent of adults who exercise or walk to reduce stress claim the technique is extremely effective.3 Active adults also boast a decreased risk of depression and loss of mental function, leaving them better equipped to handle life’s stressors.4 Make time for regular exercise, whether it’s a quick walk at lunch, a group yoga class or an impromptu dance session in the kitchen—just move!
3. Be social.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the last thing you want is to throw yourself into a social situation, but it just may be the best thing for you. Strong personal connections are linked to good health and that includes stress reduction. A belly laugh or a big hug can go a long way. And a supportive listener can provide feelings of understanding and validation, lightening your load. 5Even during the most stressful times, find regular opportunities to connect with friends and family members.
4. Stay present.
It’s simple: stress makes you feel bad, so manage it by focusing on things that make you feel good. When you keep your focus in the present, it’s easier to feel capable and in control. Try to find pleasure in every moment, whether it’s listening to the birds chirp outside, savoring a cup of coffee or playing fetch with your dog. Engaging your mind with something pleasurable prevents you from dwelling on the stress of a situation and gives you room to relax and breathe6.
What helps you cope with stress? Weigh in on Facebook link opens in a new window and let us know what helps you the most.