Stress can affect anyone at any time, and it can be a powerful motivator, but it can sometimes be too much. Heavy workload, lack of time, conflicts in relationships, finances, and health issues are all stress factors. There are many tell-tale signs that these things have taken over your life with too much bad stress. If you feel stress cross the line to destructive, then it's time you consider managing your stress.
Identifying what causes unhealthy stress in your life is a big part in managing it. Signs that you are dealing with unhealthy levels of stress include: stomach ache, headaches, muscle tension, racing heart, irregular eating and sleeping habits, racing thoughts, irritability, low energy, and poor concentration. Identify the thoughts you have when you feel any of these symptoms. From there, you can create a stress management plan that works for you. Here are 6 proven methods to keep your stress at a manageable level.
1. Monitor Mental Chatter
Keep an eye on your thoughts, so to speak. All or Nothing thinking like "everyone hates me" or "nothing ever goes right" are signs that stress is taking over. When you notice those thoughts more and more, try to let them go. It's a difficult practice, but the earlier you notice those thoughts, the easier they are to let go.
2. Keeping a Journal
Typically, stressful thoughts are repetitive, catching you in a cycle of continuous overthinking. Write down those stressful thoughts to ease your mind from them. Put pen to paper and close the book on those thoughts that aren't benefiting you. This may be a great option if you feel the same stresses arising. You can go back to your notebook and see how you felt the last time these thoughts came to mind.
3. Meditating or Deep Breathing
The primary goal of meditation is to recognize when your mind focuses on a thought and then let it go. It teaches you to make stressful thoughts less powerful by releasing your mind from them. If you've never meditated before, try shorter session or guided meditation. Yoga is another great way to let your mind relax, as one of its primary tenants is deep, measured breaths.
Aerobic exercise is a proven way to increase your endorphins. Endorphins are your happy hormones that send the feeling of euphoria to the brain. If you have a tough time with cardio exercise, start with walking a few times a day for short distances. If you aren't able to do that, there are options that push your heart rate into that beneficial elevated zone. Ask your doctor what type of exercise is right for you health needs, but get out there and get moving.
This might not seem like it would ease your stress too much. In fact, stress eating is pretty common and you usually go for bad foods when stressed. There isn't a lot of data out there to suggest a correlation between diet and mental health. But, a well balanced, healthy diet can help you avoid other health problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Having these health issues can trigger stress. The more you are able to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, the less stressed you will feel.
6. New Hobbies
Overthinking and stressful thoughts tend to be the product of a bored mind. If you have free time, your mind is free to wander to stressful thoughts. Taking up a new hobby is beneficial for your mind in more ways than keeping you calm. It can keep your mind sharp as you age as well. Learn something new, and soon the preoccupation will dissipate the stressful thoughts.
Feelings of stress can be overwhelming, but if you know what signs to look for, you can combat stress and keep calm. At ExpressMed, we care about your health, including your mental health. If you have proven methods of stress management, share them with us!