Stress is inevitable in our lives. There are everyday stressors and those that are more long-term, such as a job change, becoming a new parent, or facing a pandemic.
When we are stressed, it can have effects on the physical health of our bodies. Our brain signals for our adrenal glands to get moving, our heart starts to race, and our blood pressure rises. Sounds terrible, right? Surprisingly, some stress can also be beneficial to us. It can help us to be more alert and prepare us to take on challenges.
What we do know for certain is that life’s stressors can and will always be present; it’s inescapable. The key to stress is understanding why it happens. Studies show the problem with stress isn’t the stress itself, it’s how we respond to it that can be detrimental to our health. The good news is, the results showed that people can learn to adopt a “stress-is-enhancing mindset”, which can have positive implications on health and work performance.
The next time you feel that blood of yours boiling or your heart begins to race, try out a couple of these healthy coping mechanisms to set yourself up for success.
1. Welcome the emotion of stress
Take time to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Don’t try to sweep your feelings under the rug—it will not alleviate the situation. Doing so can actually become more counterproductive when you try to pretend what you’re feeling isn’t happening.
2. Get better at your defense
A good night’s rest can do wonders for your mental well-being. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours.
3. Up your self-care game
Think meditation, yoga, tea, stretching, and finding your Zen! Skip the alcohol and sugary snacks and eat foods closer to the earth (think green!). Taking care of ourselves is often put on the back burner, and now is not the time to do so.
4. Sweat it out
Exercise is always a good idea. Get those endorphins flowing!
5. Offer yourself some self-compassion
We only stress about things that we care about. Each of us deals with stress differently, and it’s important to cut yourself some slack. It’s wise not to be too hard on yourself—you’re human, remember? Stress is a natural feeling to have. Take a step back and ask yourself how you would treat a friend that was dealing with the same type of stress.
6. Stop procrastinating
Prepare for the things you know are coming, such as moving, holidays, or a work project. Most of the time we know these types of things are approaching. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. This type of stress can be mitigated if we put a plan in place.
7. Focus on what you can control
Stay in the driver’s seat of your situation and always focus on controlling what you can control. Every stressful situation still holds some room for control, such as your attitude and perseverance.
8. Keep your eye on what counts
The prize, the solution, the end game, or the finished product. That’s where your attention needs to go. Attach yourself to the positives that are going to come out of the situation.
9. Cut out the extra noise
While you can’t exactly ignore emails from your boss or clients, it may be time to scale back some of the extra noise in your life. Your brain needs time to process the stress and trying to keep up with every pop-up notification and social media alert can be overwhelming. Go ahead and lighten up on your calendar while you’re at.
10. Bring it back to gratitude
During a stressful time, there is still a whole lot to be thankful for. Try to list three things a day that bring you back to feeling joy in your life.
11. Talk it out
Sorting out a stressful situation with a friend or family member you trust can be very beneficial. Seeking out the professional support of a therapist can also be a great resource to digest what you are experiencing.
12. Put pen to paper
Writing down a problem or difficult time in a notebook or journal can help your mind sort through the situation to come up with a plan. It can feel liberating to write down your true feelings, as it can be difficult to express the emotions you may feel to others.
At the end of the day, remember your brain will believe what you tell it! Think to yourself, “I got this. I will find a solution. I will make it through this.” You deserve better than just succumbing to stress!