Managing stress in a healthy way can be tricky. Especially when it means changing your usual routine. However, taking care of your mind and body while handling stress is crucial to making healthy, consistent habits.
1. Schedule, plan, and write it down
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stress can be reduced by keeping an organized schedule. If you feel like the things you need to do are getting too overwhelming, make a list of everything that needs to get done. Checking off tasks is easy to make big lists more manageable.
You can make scheduling a piece of only your work routine, or you can add it to your daily life and schedule workouts, ideal sleep patterns, and more to knock down your stress levels.
2. Make time for self-care
Self-care is an important part of maintaining a balanced lifestyle. It can be anything that makes you feel good or takes your mind off of stress. Taking your dog for a walk, reading or watching a movie are only a few examples.
Caring for yourself means knowing how to manage your stress well. Mayo Clinic suggests following the 4 A’s for healthy stress management: avoid, alter, accept, and adapt.
• Avoiding stress means planning ahead and knowing what you are getting into before you commit. Unforeseen stressors cannot always be avoided, but it is best to plan as much as possible.
• Altering your situation can look like leaving a toxic situation or communicating your feelings. Making yourself a priority and understanding what you can handle will help you to be more available to give your all.
• Sometimes situations cannot be avoided or changed, and must be accepted. It is important that even when a stressor is inevitable, you can learn from it. Talking to someone about it and finding peace in all situations will help you to take on difficult situations in the future as well.
• Finally, you can adapt to all situations to avoid stress. Changing your mindset or adjusting your standards can be great ways to tackle a tough problem.
3. Learn how to say “no”
If you’re a people-pleaser, you may struggle with saying “no”. However, taking on too much can lead you to an overbooked schedule.
Setting personal boundaries and knowing your limits is the first step in learning to say “no”. Once you decide to make your time a priority, you will feel more able to fulfill your obligations.
4. Journal or talk it out
Writing down feelings or talking it out with a trusted friend has more power than you think. Taking time to journal before bed or a few times a week can help you release built-up tension.
Talking out your problems with someone can also be a stress reliever. Knowing that you have a support system when you are overwhelmed is another important part of a balanced life.
5. Cut out the unhealthy stress-relievers
Although many think that drugs or alcohol help with stress, they may actually be doing more harm than you think.
Drinking at the end of the night to take the edge off is a common stress reliever, as well as taking pain medication to ease physical tension. However, these patterns can quickly become harmful addictions.
If you are feeling like substances have become your constant stress reliever, it may be time to take a break from alcohol/drugs or research substance abuse treatment programs. These are readily available to help people regain control and handle stress in healthier ways.
If you are worried about the cost of treatment, find out how your insurance can help. Searching something like “Cigna substance abuse” is a great first step.