As we enter into a frantic time of back to school, increased COVID resurgence, and additional financial strains, stress from work and home can begin to overtake our lives. Some stress can be beneficial to keep us on task and maximize our performance; however, without proper management, stress can cause anxiety, fatigue, and a host of physical problems. Managing and coping with these additional stressors can be the key to excellent mental and physical health.
So how can we manage stress when our lives seem out of control? Several steps can help in this process. A helpful book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems by Dr. Daniel G. Amen addresses just some of these issues. Dr. Amen addresses the connection between the body and mind in dealing with stress and how stress can cause physical harm such as hypertension. Stress levels may be reduced through some simple techniques and relaxation exercises such as meditation and breathing methods. So take a moment to breathe, pull up a meditation app such as Calm, do a few yoga stretches in your office, or take a short walk around the block.
In addition to relaxation techniques, other vital factors play a role in stress levels. Strides individuals can take include increasing social support through coworkers, friends, and family. Set up that dinner date with friends, reach out to a loved one, or go to lunch with your coworkers. Also, ensure you are getting exercise as part of your daily routine. Nutrition plays a key role; a well-balanced diet and avoiding nicotine and excessive drinking are essential. If you seek help with proper nutrition, reach out to a nutritionist and set up a balanced, doable diet. Sleep is also vital; prioritizing and allowing for a good night’s sleep will significantly reduce stress levels. Have a regular sleep schedule, put your electronics away 30 minutes before bed, and create a bedtime routine. Prioritizing your work and personal tasks and allowing for free time and self-care is vital. Plan regular breaks in your day, break down larger tasks into manageable ones, do not overcommit, and create a balanced schedule.
Finally, ensure that you take care of your mental health, including resisting perfectionist and negative thoughts, trying to over-control situations, and being aware of signs of depression and anxiety. Seek help from mental health counselors when the signs of stress burnout pile up and become overwhelming. Take the time to take care of yourself.
If you need help getting unstuck from stress and the lifestyle patterns that contribute to it, we are here for you! Make an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches today. Additionally, please check out these stress-related resources.
Written by: Nicole Dunn, Counseling Intern