Stress can get the best of all of us, but when you’re dealing with mental health issues, it can be even more challenging. In honor of National Stress Awareness Day (the first Wednesday in November), try these eight tips to manage stress more effectively.
Hug a Furball
There’s a good reason cats and dogs are brought to visit hospitals, schools, and veteran centers. Interacting with animals can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and even lower your blood pressure. Pets can also reduce feelings of loneliness and boost your mood. If you don’t have a furry friend to call your own, take a trip to your local pet store or shelter, or snuggle with a pal’s pooch.
Sign Off Social Media
While social media can be a great way to reconnect with long-lost friends and share personal news and milestones, it can also be a source of negativity and information overload. If you find yourself getting angry, depressed, or stressed while scrolling, set some social media limits. Consider deleting apps from your phone so you only log in when you’re at your computer, or even temporarily deactivating your accounts. And if you feel calmer with less screen time, consider signing off social media entirely.
Get Your ZZZs
A surefire way to reduce stress is getting a good night’s rest. After all, sleep restores the body, regulates mood, and improves concentration. You’ll find it much easier to handle the stresses of the day when you’re well-rested. To boost your sleep health, go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. And keep screens out of your bedroom so you don’t stimulate your brain when you need it to start shutting down.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s tempting to reach for a substance to help you relax. But alcohol and other drugs can actually increase anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Plus, these substances have a negative effect on sleep quality, leaving you less equipped to deal with stressful situations that arise. Note: If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, a private rehab center can provide the medical care and support you need to recover.
Eat a Home-Cooked Meal
Stressful times can translate to eating drive-through meals and other packaged, processed items on the go. But those types of foods can make your stress worse, causing a spike and subsequent crash in your blood sugar. Instead of constantly eating out, commit to consuming more home-cooked meals with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A healthy diet can provide the fuel you need to stay calm and combat long-term stress.
Phone a Friend
In the TV game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” contestants are offered the phone-a-friend lifeline for help in a time of trouble. The friend is waiting for the call, ready to offer advice and support to help the contestant move forward. It’s a perfect metaphor for real-life problems. When you’re feeling super stressed, don’t isolate yourself and try to power through alone. Reach out to loved ones for a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or a pearl of wisdom.
Replace Unhealthy Habits with Healthy Ones
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits like procrastinating, bingeing endless hours of TV, and drinking gallons of coffee. But you don’t have to stay stuck with an old habit—with time and repetition, you can create a new one. Instead of putting off key items on your to-do list (and letting your stress build), prioritize what’s important each day. Swap some TV hours for reading time. And keep your caffeine consumption in check by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
Staying cooped up in your home or workplace can be a real downer, amping up the stress you’re experiencing. But spending time outside can boost your mood and overall well-being, recharging and restoring your passion and creativity. Whether you’re sitting in your backyard, taking a walk in the park, or hiking a trail, the fresh air and natural setting can do your mind and body a world of good.
Don’t let stress get the upper hand. With a handful of tips and techniques, you can master stress management and enjoy a productive, balanced life.
Need help handling your stressors? Call Beachside Rehab at 866-349-1770 to learn more about our private recovery center. With assistance from our trained admissions counselors, you can find the treatment program that’s right for you.