Manage Your Stress For A Healthy Life
Did you know that stress can compromise your health, sleep, relationships, and overall quality of life? The most important and effective tool you have to reign in stress is your mind. The good news is that your mind is all yours! No one can take it away from you and it allows you to make choices. That’s powerful. Especially given these “Covid Times”, we are discovering that we have been faced with even more stress having been separated from family, friends, routine, and community, adding to what might be an already challenging world for you. Trying to figure out the virus and how to handle it is stress-inducing on its own!
You have a tremendous advantage when you are able to identify that you are in a state of stress and are able to manage it effectively. By understanding what works for you, you can steer yourself away from intensifying your stress levels and actually, stop what can be damaging and debilitating to your mind and body. When you have the tools in your toolbox to bring you to a calmer place, you can train yourself to employ them and increase the quality of your life—you can learn to be calmer, happier, more peaceful, and ultimately healthier.
Knowing what works for you is the key. For some, exercising helps alleviate stress and for others, it could be meditating. Others journal or talk to friends. I have several tools that work for me depending on my environment, mood, and level of stress. A favorite method for me is to notice that I’m stressed, stop, recognize it, and then choose to take an action. I typically do a bit of self-talk; for example, “I am stressed out and I need to settle down” or, “I need to check out for a moment and take care of myself because I’m anxious”. Sometimes I tell myself to breathe and settle down, or an effective method is to purposely replace a negative thought with a pleasant one. Thinking of the ocean on a beautiful day can completely cut out the noise in my head.
These are just a few conversations that I have with myself. I then assess what I think will work to alleviate the anxiety. One of my favorite actions is to listen to some good music. It is almost a given that it will bring me to a better place. I have also taken up meditating daily. There are many free meditations online (I like the free 21-day meditations from Deepak Chopra and Oprah or the apps “Calm” or search “guided meditations” on YouTube). I am also a believer in regular exercise. Simply taking a walk in the sunshine, lifting weights (you can even use water bottles if weights are not available to you), or doing yoga (there is free content on YouTube for this as well) will do the trick. In addition, I know that I process well by talking to a family member or friend. The release of feelings or thoughts is soothing for me. Research backs up the positive results that come from sharing your thoughts with others.
It is after one of these activities that my mind is clear and I am able to figure out the steps I need to take to solve a problem or address a stressful situation. Take some time to go inward and think of what might be some of your favorite ways to calm yourself. We are all different and have unique ways of coping; some people can handle a lot of stress and others very little. There is a known: we all have stress in our lives. By knowing yourself and immersing yourself in stress mitigating measures, you just might find that your quality of life has increased and that you are responsible for making that happen. Know yourself. Change your thinking and you can change your life!