Stress can occur for many reasons. If you come face-to-face with a bear while hiking, for example, your stress levels are obviously going to increase! A temporary increase in stress levels when there is a genuine threat to your safety is your body’s natural way of protecting you.
In contrast, long-term stress can have a debilitating effect on your physical and emotional well-being. The body isn’t designed to deal with elevated stress levels for lengthy periods of time, which is why we can experience a variety of symptoms when we have too much stress.
Learning how to manage stress in a healthy way can help you to avoid potentially damaging behaviors and minimize the impact that stress has on your mind and body. To find better ways to manage life’s challenges, take a look at these four healthier ways to cope with stress:
Identify Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
People commonly develop coping mechanisms when they’re dealing with excess stress, but these mechanisms aren’t always helpful. If you’re relying on alcohol or drugs to destress, for example, you’re inadvertently fueling the problem and exacerbating existing health issues.
By identifying your unhealthy coping strategies and taking action to eradicate them, you can find better ways to cope with stress. With help from organizations like American Addiction Centers, you can access the support you need when it comes to overcoming unhealthy behaviors. Then, you’ll be able to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthier, more effective strategies.
Learn to Say ‘No’
If you find yourself always saying, ‘Yes,’ when you’re asked to work overtime, give someone a ride, or volunteer on the PTA, you’re going to find yourself feeling overwhelmed. What’s more – people could take advantage of your good nature if they’re used to relying on you.
While it’s perfectly natural and admirable to want to help people, it’s important to learn when and how to say, ‘No’. Recognizing that you need time to unwind and destress each day is a critical part of self-care. By learning to say, ‘No,’ you can limit the amount of stress you’re under, grow in confidence, and feel more empowered.
Find a Hobby
If you’ve never discovered a hobby that you’re really interested in, it might be time to find one! Whether it’s needlepoint or baking, woodworking or birdwatching, find something you’re passionate about and incorporate it into your schedule. Similarly, if you’ve abandoned or overlooked an existing hobby because you’ve been short of time, reschedule your time so that you can reignite your interest.
Research shows that spending time doing the things you love – including hobbies – is a great stress reliever; in fact, people who make time for their hobbies are less likely to be stressed out, moody, and depressed.
Be More Active
Physical exercise can be a fantastic way to reduce your stress levels and limit the physical impact that stress can have on you. Whether you hit the gym regularly, go on cross-country cycling trips, or simply take a walk around the block during your lunch hour, aim to incorporate some sort of physical activity into your lifestyle if you want to reduce your stress levels. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity daily can really make a difference in your physical and mental health!
Learning to Manage Stress
It isn’t possible to avoid stress altogether, which is why it’s essential that you learn to manage it. The more accomplished you become at this, the more tools you’ll have to rely on, and the easier you’ll find it to embrace healthy ways to manage your stress levels.