Acute bouts of stress are a normal part of life. This is your body’s way of alerting you to a potential danger, threat, or difficult situation. But according to the American Psychological Association, most Americans are experiencing a high level of chronic stress, which can be detrimental to your overall health and wellness, as well as your quality of life.
Follow these six tips for better stress management to help you cope with stressful situations and anxiety.
1. Identify Sources of Stress
The first step to relieving stress is to figure out which aspects of your life are causing you the most stress. Are you worried about a particular event? Is your job or family life your main source of stress and anxiety? Pinpointing the things that stress you out can help you to avoid these triggers whenever possible and find ways to more constructively deal with them.
2. Replace Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Many people find themselves turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, alcohol or drug use, or even overeating. If you find yourself in this situation, try to replace these habits with healthier choices.
3. Establish a Consistent Routine
If stress or anxiety are getting in the way of your productivity, try creating and sticking to a consistent daily routine. This can serve two purposes. First, maintaining a regular schedule can help you to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than letting stress overwhelm you and interfere with your normal activities.
Secondly, establishing a routine can help you to better balance your work life and free time.
4. Eat Right and Get Enough Exercise
It can be all too easy to fall into a vicious cycle of overeating comfort foods and lounging on the couch when you feel stressed out, which tends to only make you feel even more lethargic and burnt out.
Instead, make sure you’re getting enough exercise on a regular basis, even if that means going for a walk, stretching, or making it to yoga class. In the same sense, eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to function at an optimal level.
5. Spend Time Outdoors
Studies have shown that spending time outside, particularly in nature, can have a profound effect on your mental health. If feeling confined in a busy office for long periods of time is contributing to your stress levels, find ways to incorporate nature into your regular routine. Maybe this means taking a walk through a park during your lunch break, or building in an extra ten minutes in your morning to sit on the back porch and breathe in some fresh air.
6. Take a Break from “Screen Time”
As helpful and even necessary our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices can be, constantly being “plugged in” can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Give yourself a break from screens throughout the day, even if only for five or ten minutes at a time.