Everybody has stress. Some stress is good for you. It helps you respond to situations and could even help you benefit from the change it brings. However, too much stress can interfere with life and begin to cause harm to your mental and physical state. When stress lasts indefinitely, it can cause stomach issues, heart health issues, and create a chemical imbalance between your brain and nervous system. If you are in recovery, it could even cause feelings of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even relapse. Identifying stress and learning how to manage it and respond appropriately to it is essential. This is why National Stress Awareness Day exists: to remind you and bring you back in touch with your stressors and how to manage them. Celebrated every first Wednesday of November, National Stress Awareness Day aims to identify and reduce the stress factors in your life. Here are some ways that you can reduce feelings of stress in your life as we recognize this important day.
Find Your Stress Triggers
Think about what is causing your stress. Is it work? Working from home? Not working? Have you agreed to do too much and now have too many obligations? Sit with your thoughts, practice mindfulness, and try to figure out what is causing your stress. Ask yourself questions, challenge your beliefs, and focus on a new idea that helps steer you away from your triggers. Understand that this might not happen immediately, but it will help you take steps to minimize your stressors before they get out of control.
Try Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation both work to help strengthen your mind and body. Meditation will help you focus on your breathwork and take the focus off your thoughts, while yoga can bring balance to your body. Both can calm your mind and even improve sleep, which is commonly impacted by stress. The beauty of yoga and meditation is that you do not need a lot of extra stuff to do it. You can practice on your own, at home or in the office, and feel the stress lift away.
Exercise to Release Stress
The power of exercise is no secret. Finding time to add physical activity in your daily routine is an essential tool that not only lowers stress but can help you maintain better health and sobriety. Exercise releases tension and energy that stems from stress and anxiety. Like meditation and yoga, there are elements to certain exercises that help you focus on breathing, taking your mind off stressful thoughts.
Ease Stress through a Better Diet
This might be the hardest to stay loyal to. Most people like to indulge in some junk food now and again, but the benefits of a healthy diet should not be overlooked. Eating healthy can help reduce and manage stress. Certain foods can boost serotonin, which helps calm the brain. Other foods help reduce the amount of cortisol and adrenaline in your system. Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones and can have negative impacts on your body over time. Healthy, unprocessed foods also help build your immune system and lower blood pressure. A good diet, coupled with exercise, is a great combination to help reduce stress and improve your overall health.
A restful slumber has great restoring power. However, most people do not get enough sleep. While the amount of sleep necessary varies depending on age and health, most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. While stress interferes with sleep patterns, so does an unstructured schedule. These inconsistent patterns create an unhealthy cycle that directly affects your sleep. Remember, there is enough time for work and play each day; you need to figure out how much time you should give each. Create a schedule for yourself that outlines when you work, when you stop working, when you exercise and when you take time for you. Try to establish a schedule that benefits your needs and does not have you waiting until you are in bed to try and finally relax. Sleep should be part of the schedule, so make sure that you are getting to sleep when it is time for sleep.
Take on New Hobbies
Seeking the right hobby should never add to your stress; it should empower you to take on a new challenge and achieve new goals. When you find a hobby that you really enjoy, you will always have time for it. However, if you notice that you are not feeling motivated to pursue a hobby because it feels like work, seek a different hobby. Ask yourself if you prefer hobbies centered around problem-solving like games and puzzles, or if you more of the artistic type where music and writing might suit you. Whatever the hobby and whatever the goal, find something that fits your interests and challenges you.
Figure Out What Works for You
You can use many tools to combat stress. There are things you can do outside, with others, and things that you can do right from home. Don’t be shy about your pursuits—let friends and family know your goals and your triumphs. This will not only empower you but also help hold you accountable. Remember, what works for another person might not work for you, so don’t get down if something you try does not work. This is all part of the process of finding what works for you so you can manage stress going forward.
When stress takes over your life, it can lead to irrational thoughts, scenarios and behaviors, which creates a feeling of helplessness. If you are ever feeling alone and that stress has consumed you, reach out and seek help. At DiscoveryMD, we offer various treatments to help you build a mindset to better handle your stress. Our therapists work with each individual to make sure they are getting the help they need. To learn more, contact us today.