Stress is a natural part of life that can be the result of both negative and positive experiences. Because stress can take a toll on your physical health, learning how to manage stress is important. Healthy coping skills can help you build resilience and improve your health.
Tips for managing stress
Change your mindset
When we are in a stressful situation, we might experience negative thoughts like:
- Magnifying the negative aspects of a situation
- Blaming yourself for things you can’t control
- Anticipating the worst
- Feeling like a failure when perfection is not met
Learning how to practice positive self-talk can be challenging at first but don’t give up. Studies show that those with a more optimistic mindset not only have reduced stress levels but also show increased life span and lower rates of depression.
Find what relaxes you
When you’re in need of a stress reliever, taking care of yourself can help you clear your mind so you can better cope with stress. Here is a list of relaxing activities you can try when you’re feeling overwhelmed:
- Paint or draw
- Take a warm bath
- Book a massage
- Go on a walk
- Exercise or play your favorite sport
- Enjoy a spa day
- Spend time in nature
- Listen to your favorite music
- Practice yoga or Tai chi
- Drink a cup of warm tea
- Cuddle with your pet
- Take a mental health day from work
- Immerse yourself in your favorite hobby
Start a gratitude journal
Studies show that practicing gratitude can improve mental health. If you enjoy writing your thoughts and emotions down on paper, consider starting a gratitude journal. All you need to get started is a pencil, paper, and a few minutes alone each day.
Talk to someone
Talking to someone you trust such as a therapist, friend, or family member has a variety of benefits. It can help you feel less alone, see the situation more clearly, and find solutions you haven’t thought of before.
If you continue to have difficulty coping with stress, consider speaking with a mental health professional. Asking these five questions can help you choose the right therapist.
Exercise plays an important role in stress management. Regular exercise improves your mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin, two chemicals that help us reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Incorporating exercise into your life is a great way to help you better cope when stressful events happen.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol
When you are stressed, you may be tempted to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings rather than cope with them. Doing so can cause more harm than good and can increase your risk for substance use disorder. Instead, practice the healthy coping skills detailed above and speak with your healthcare provider if you are using substances to cope with stress.
Chronic stress takes a toll on our overall health and well-being. If you are struggling to manage your stress, we can help you develop the skills you need to live a happier life. We’re here to help when you’re ready to make a change. Learn more about our counseling centers here or request an appointment below.