20 Apr 12 Tips for Coping with Stress
Are you one of the 29% of adults who made a New Year’s resolution related to your mental health? Or are you among the 25% expected to feel MORE stress in 2023?
Indeed, a lot can cause stress in our lives – continued inflation, increased cost of living and an uncertain job market. I could go on and on. While we can’t always control what happens to or around us, we can control how we respond.
Here are a few positive ways to handle outside stressors and give yourself time to respond rather than react to what’s causing you to stress.
Practice self-care. Acknowledge that you need to take care of yourself – whether breathing, meditating or praying. The more oxygen that gets to your brain, the more it disrupts your automatic response and gives you time to readjust.
Take time for yourself. Sure, a girls’ or guys’ trip can be great, but you can also take an hour-cation: listen to music, take a bath, get a massage, grab a snack or watch a TV show. Just take a moment to relax.
Journal. Writing can help reduce stress and get rid of negative thoughts. For many, keeping a journal helps them think through problems and concerns in a structured way and can be cathartic.
Tap into sound healing. Sound healing uses aspects of music to improve health and well-being, reduce stress and induce relaxation. You can find playlists on YouTube or Google or ask Alexa.
Let it go. Trust that once you’ve done your best, that’s good enough. You’re done; give it to the universe.
Set boundaries and give yourself permission to say no. You get to set for yourself what is unreasonably demanding. Professionally, you can set office hours, but personally, you can do this as well. If you have a partner, you can each have “on hours” for family matters. When mom is off, dad gets all the questions and vice versa. If you’re a single parent, you can close the kitchen at a specific time or set bedtime early enough to have your own downtime in the evenings. You can also have expectations for the people around you. Identify how they can help themselves; don’t take on everything for them.
Create a support network. Your network can be friends, family, or both, and you can spend time together via video, phone or in-person gatherings. Remember, laughter IS medicine and healing happens just by being in the company of positive, supportive people.
Try counseling. Sometimes it helps to have a third-party listen and help with problem-solving. There are many places to seek counseling. At CHRIS 180, our Counseling Centers help people of all ages through tough times so that they can feel better and function better. We work with clients of all backgrounds and have a sliding fee scale.
Get some exercise. It is no secret physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier. For some people, getting up early and stretching is the way to go; others stop at the park or the gym on the way home. The bottom line is that exercise improves stress and mood and decreases anxiety.
Get a hobby. Find something to do that you enjoy and can integrate into your life regularly. Maybe it’s reading or painting. Maybe you like DIY projects. Maybe you enjoy playing board games or basketball. We fill our lives with responsibilities, but we need something that balances out the challenges we may face.
Hydrate and eat well. There are limitless benefits to taking care of our physical body. We all know if we’re hungry, we’ll be (h)angry. So make it simple – substitute water for soda or a salad for french fries.
Be grateful. This last one is my favorite. I highly recommend counting your blessings daily. What are you thankful for today? What is there to be happy about? Identify what is good in your life, what is going well, especially when you’re just not feeling it. Eventually, it will become a habit to see the positive. Remember, your behavior follows your emotions.
I hope you find these tips helpful for dealing with stressors in your day-to-day life.
Ashleigh R. Dennis-Silas, LPC, CPCS, is the Vice President of Mental Health and Wellness. She can be reached at [email protected]