Stressed? 8 ways to tackle your stress proactively

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Everybody has stress, and some days are more stressful than others. The key is to deal with stress right, and to prevent it when you can.

BY DENISE LAU
denise_lau@hmsa.com

Feeling particularly stressed out this month? Tax season will do that to you.

Good thing it’s also National Stress Prevention Month, a chance to remind ourselves of the dangers of stress — and what we can do to tackle it better.

How can you handle your stress positively? There are lots of nifty stress busters, and we’ve included a few of our favorites below.

Seek out support. 

Remember that you’re not alone. When you need help, seek out support from friends or a mental health professional. A therapist can help you tackle many problems, including anxiety. For everyday stress, consider having a chat with a few positive friends. Make that call or go out for a treat. You’ll always come home happier.

Put yourself first sometimes.

You can’t always put yourself first, but you shouldn’t always be at the back of the line. Remember that you can’t help others if you’re not feeling 100 percent. Why not reward yourself with some daily “downtime”? One clinical trial found that when paramedics were given about 30 minutes of downtime at the end of a shift after a critical incident, they experienced fewer symptoms of depression. So get your seven to eight hours of sleep at night, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and schedule some time to unwind everyday.

generic fitness 6 - stretch leg

Workouts are good for body and mind. Whatever the activity, movement helps boost your creativity so you can look at problems anew.

Work it out.

A little movement can go a long way in helping you deal with a problem. Joining a fitness class or just tying up those laces and taking a jog or walk around the block may help you re-assess your day and get more creative about how to solve or deal with a problem. One recent study found that early breast cancer patients actually exhibited fewer symptoms of depression during treatment while on an exercise and healthy eating program. This could lead to better long-term survival in women recovering from early-breast cancer treatment.

Feel in control.

If you reflect on the most stressful events in your life, you might think, “But, what can I do?” The stressful event may seem overpowering or insurmountable. Here’s where you have to say, instead: “Wait, I’m in control. I can do this.” Then, you can find solutions with new confidence.

Sometimes taking control of your life means simplifying things and knowing when to tell people “no.” If you feel overwhelmed, set aside time to relax, meditate or engage in activity that takes your mind off the problems in your life.

Pay it forward.

When you help those in need, you have more empathy for others and your problems seem smaller in comparison. You don’t necessarily need to sign up for a formal volunteer event. Why not just do someone a small favor? Remember the last time you got a smile from a stranger just because you opened a door for them? It helps your overall well-being to think outside of your own circumstances. Plus, studies show volunteering not only helps your mental health but may lower your blood pressure and increase your lifespan. Now that’s a win-win.

Manage your time.

procrastinate

Leave everything to the last minute? That’s bad for your calendar, and your stress levels.

I’m awful with procrastinating. I always kick myself for waiting until the last minute to get things done. There really is nothing worse for your stress levels. A simple solution would be to manage your time. Start planning that next project now, even if you don’t finish it. If you prioritize what’s important, you’ll expend more energy to the more important tasks.

Embrace positivity.

We’re not suggesting you wear rose-colored glasses all the time. But approaching life with a positive attitude can make a big difference. You can start by thinking of things that are going well in life. If you think optimistically and act like a positive, happy person, your mindset will fall in line. In one Australia prospective study, optimistic thinking was found to be somewhat protective against depressive symptoms in adolescents. It even works on teens!

Let it go! (Let it go!)

It can be so freeing to forgive, truly forget and get over something that is bothering you. Studies show that those who forgive are healthier. Letting it go doesn’t mean learning from the bad times, or thinking about how to make your life better. It means moving past ruminating over a problem, and actually trying to solve it.

denise bioDenise Lau is a content specialist at HMSA and blogs about mommyhood with her #808moms series. She has her hands full with a precocious, artistic daughter and active son. Her goal is to be healthy and fit while her kids become successful, well-rounded adults. Follow her on Twitter.

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