Follow these simple tips to help manage and reduce your stress levels
All of us experience some stress on a day-to-day basis. It could be as simple as running a few minutes behind in the morning, getting handed a large project from your boss or even too many bills arriving the same day. While too much stress isn’t good for your physical or mental health, not all stress is bad. “In the moment that we face a challenging or threatening situation, it’s helpful to feel stress, or heightened emotions and bodily sensations,” says Peggy Zoccola, Ph.D., assistant professor at Ohio University. An increase in heart rate or the body’s release of stress hormones can help us focus on the task at hand and provide energy needed for that moment. Here are healthy ways Zoccola advises you to manage stressors in your life:
- Change Your Mindset When Feeling Stressed
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious by a particular situation, take a moment to pause and reevaluate. Try to reinterpret the meaning of the situation to decrease its negative effects. For example, instead of thinking about an upcoming performance evaluation as a situation in which you are doomed, consider that the meeting might be a good opportunity to showcase your skills. Another useful strategy is to draw on the support of others. When you’re overwhelmed with work, seek advice or hands-on assistance from coworkers to help manage your stress. If you’re still feeling the effects later in the day, use physical exercise or fun activities with friends or family to take your mind off the stressful situation and boost your mood.
- Manage Stress the Right Way
Not all challenging situations can be resolved quickly. You might be dealing with a larger issue, like the loss of a job. Although taking small steps to improve the situation (like cutting back on expenses, or finding new sources of income) are important and helpful, they may not alleviate your ongoing financial worries. In these circumstances, emotion-focused coping can be useful, says Zoccola. Seek the comfort and support of others or find healthful outlets when you are feeling frustrated or worried. Perhaps go on a walk to clear your head, improve your mood, and get fit without putting a dent in your budget.
- Handle Surprise Stressors with Ease
Loss of control in a situation can cause distress and activate your body’s stress response. Re-evaluating the potential consequences might help. Remind yourself that arriving late to your friend’s house because you’re stuck in traffic isn’t the end of the world. Try to learn from daily hassles. Give yourself more time by leaving earlier if traffic is a regular problem for you. Or, bring your favorite music or podcast to listen to on your commute.
- Keep Stress Levels Low with Healthy Habits
Getting a full night’s sleep, regular exercise, and eating well can help offset the negative effects of stress in our lives, says Zoccola. Maintaining social ties is also important because the people in our lives can provide emotional support, advice, and direct assistance when challenges in life arise.