Stress is something that everyone deals with. It can affect your body, behavior, and mood, and can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes (mayoclinic.org.) Its effects are wide-ranging and can include sleep problems, headache, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, and upset stomach, among many others health issues.
Most of us are aware of the many unhealthy ways of coping with stress, but even some seemingly benign methods of relaxing, like watching tv, playing video games, or surfing the internet, can increase your stress over time.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MANAGE STRESS?
- Get regular physical activity. If carving out the recommended 30 minutes per day of exercise isn’t feasible, you can still work some physical activity into your day. If you work at a desk, take periodic breaks to walk around. Take a walk or bike ride in the evening. Use 5 minutes of your morning routine to do some simple stretches. If you can manage it, though, cardio activity is highly effective for reducing stress. Find something you enjoy so working out doesn’t feel like a chore. Exercising does not have to mean going to the gym. Here are some tips on how to start exercising (key: start slow!) and explains all the different types.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Even a few moments of deep, slow breathing can help calm your body and mind. Meditation can be beneficial and does not require a large time commitment, and costs nothing! There are many online resources; try “Meditation for Beginners” on headspace.com.
- Set aside time for fun! Ditch your phone for an hour and play a board game with your kids. Find a hobby. Gardening, knitting, woodworking, geocaching, journaling, cooking, photography, swing dancing, flea markets…so many possibilities! There is something out there for everyone.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your primary healthcare provider and/or find a therapist. An outside perspective can be helpful in sorting out life’s stresses. If you’re not sure where to get started , Psychology Today has a great article about finding the best therapist for you, and tackles some of the common misconceptions about going to therapy.
At Families First, we can also help you a find a path toward solutions and healing. Professional counseling services are offered to adults, children, couples and families. Call us at 317-634-6341 for more information.