Many of us can relate to stress and the effects it has on our lives. Stress is personal. Work, relationships, health, finances, family, children, commitments, or many other things can cause stress. What causes stress for one person may not cause stress for someone else. Stress results from a wide variety of events ranging from a tragedy in your life to bad traffic on the way home from work.
Unfortunately, ongoing or chronic stress can cause unhealthy physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms may include high blood pressure, heart disease, overeating, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and digestive problems.
The situations that cause stress may or may not be controllable. Three options that can help you lower your stress level are: reduce stress, cope with stress, and react to stress differently.
- Just say no to events that will overbook your schedule.
- Delegate to reduce some of your responsibilities.
- Organize and plan your time.
- Create a schedule or routine.
- Make a ‘to do’ list and complete one activity at a time.
- Do not worry about what other people may think.
Cope with stress
- Use relaxation techniques such as meditation, stretching, breathing.
- Get active!
- Get outside and appreciate the nature around you.
- Take a break.
- Talk to a friend or someone in your support network.
- Work on a hobby.
- Take some time to unplug yourself from TV, phones, computers, and just be.
Positive self-talk helps in many cases. Instead of stating what you don’t want, state what you do want. For example: “I want to feel calm” instead of “I hate this stress.”
Instead of acting like an event is a catastrophe, recognize that in the end, things will work out (maybe not your ideal way, but it will be okay).
If you overeat in response to stress:
- Take a walk: moving more can calm your mind.
- Drink some water and wait out the urge to eat.
- Remember that you may not have control of the situation, but you can control what you put in your mouth.
- Ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you want food for comfort.
If you belong to a local gym, use the facility for activity and expanding your social network. Join a local fitness center for a place to exercise. The forest preserves in the county are wonderful places to get outside and walk or exercise. Many local stores have ideas, products, and classes for hobbies. You can take a deep breath wherever you are!