12 tips for managing your stress right
Life is stressful, and managing stress can sometimes be a struggle.
The good news is there are some small things you can do to deal with your stress better.
1. Start by setting up your own self-care plan for adopting lifestyle and behavior changes that aid in disease prevention and management. In taking better care of yourself, you will be in a better condition to care for your family. Managing your own stress is a precursor to helping your children manage theirs. Stress is a fact of life. Overcoming barriers to healthy stress management is a choice.
2. Address money and financial worries head-on since they’re consistently one of the top sources of stress for adults. Spend time looking at your finances and avoid unhealthy behaviors such as overspending, misuse of credit cards or neglecting bills. Understand what money means to you symbolically and emotionally.
3. Talking it out with a close family member or friend for social support is a tried-and-true stress-buster. Americans who say they have someone they can ask for emotional support, such as family and friends, report lower stress levels and better related outcomes than those without emotional support.
4. Taking a deep breath might sound trivial in the face of the greater challenges of life, but it’s a good way to handle stress. A few deep breaths tell your body that it’s time to chill out. “It’s physiologically impossible to be both stressed and relaxed at the same time.” Deep breathing induces the body’s physiological relaxation response — the heart rate will slow, the blood pressure will drop. As the brain realizes this calming response is kicking in, it becomes increasingly easier to relax.
5. Getting enough sleep at night is essential for a person’s good health and wellbeing. Sleep is involved in healing and repairing your body and mind.
6. Listening to music you like is a great way to deal with stress. Listening to music is generally associated with more positive feelings, which makes everything seem more manageable.
7. Going for a stroll relaxes people, and washes away feelings of frustration and over-stimulation. Hawaii has optimal weather for spending some time being active outdoors. Walking helps to clear your head, making way for solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve earlier.
8. Laughter really is good medicine when it comes to stress. By watching a funny video or laughing it up, endorphins are released in the brain and muscles relax instead of being tense. We hold a lot of stress in our faces, so laughter is helpful in relieving facial tension.
9. Take a mental vacation if you aren’t able to take a real vacation. This involves the use of imagery and visualizing. It helps the mind escape stress by taking you to a favorite, more relaxing setting such as the beach or a quiet lookout. It’s essentially a form of meditation with the focus of relaxation that overrides the stress response.
10. Finding a furry friend or pet to hug works wonders for some people. Research shows that owning a pet lowers levels of stress hormones, possibly due to an increase in oxytocin, the hormone commonly cited for its role in love and bonding. Pets don’t talk back, they don’t invalidate you, they just want attention and love and affection and they give it back in return.
11. Practicing gratitude has always been one of my favorite stress busters. It helps me to focus on what is positive instead of dwelling on the negatives in life. Putting things in perspective and making time for what’s really important is a priority for wellness.
12. Ask for professional help if you continue to be overwhelmed by stress or the unhealthy behaviors you use to cope. A psychologist or mental health professional can help you address the emotions behind your worries, better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
The side effect of overcoming stress barriers is a happier and healthier life. Now that’s stress smarts.
Looking for more tips on managing stress? Read up on how stress can affect your overall health, and learn how not to deal with stress.
June W. J. Ching, Ph.D., ABPP is a Board Certified clinical psychologist who practices in Honolulu. She specializes in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. She is past-president of the Hawaii Psychological Association and former chief psychologist at Kapiolani Medical Center for women and children. Ching received her master’s degree from Harvard University and her doctoral degree from Northwestern University. She holds a clinical affiliate faculty appointment at the University of Hawaii’s Clinical Studies Program.