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As much as we wish it weren’t, stress is a regular part of the human experience. From tight deadlines at work to managing relationships, life can be filled with situations that may cause stress and anxiety when under the right (or wrong) conditions. 

But just because stress may be unavoidable, that doesn’t make it unmanageable. With the right tools and know-how, a person can manage – and in some instances avoid – the stresses of life. 

1. Learn from previous experiences and plan ahead.

A spilled drink, a last-minute cancellation, or something more serious, like an unforeseen diagnosis: Unless you are a time traveler or can see the future, some stresses are unknowable. 

However, while we cannot change the past, we can learn from it. Practicing time management can assist you in avoiding the tight deadlines you may have experienced on a previous project. Address concerns in the moment if you see them leading to more stressful complications later on.  

By using lessons learned from past experiences, you can analyze developing situations and make adjustments to minimize stress as much as possible.

2. Avoid stressful situations.

Believe it or not, some stresses really are avoidable. For example, if you know that your regular route to work is prone to traffic stops, you can plan for an earlier start from your home. Avoid long lines and enjoy your lunch break by packing instead.

Knowing yourself and what triggers you is the key to practicing proper avoidance. Once you are able to identify your personal stresses, you can begin to plan around them and steer clear of them whenever possible. 

Also, remember the response “No.” is also a powerful tool. When asked to participate in a situation you know will cause stress, sometimes declining to participate is the best option. 

3. Develop a regular exercise routine.

Staying healthy and active is not only great for your physical health. It can offer a boost to your mental health as well!  Studies show that those engaged in occasional and regular exercise sessions saw noticeable relief in their stress levels. Those who developed a habitual exercise routine were more likely to see long-lasting and beneficial effects on peak cortisol levels.

Exercise can include anything from taking a short afternoon walk to engaging in some intense weight lifting. Remember, everyone’s comfort level is different. Listen to your body when developing your routine to make sure not to over-exert or injure yourself.

4. Try using meditative techniques.

Peace can be found in the mind as well as the body. In a 2013 report conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH), studies showed that those who went through an 8-week mindfulness training program were left with reduced stress-induced inflammation.

Adopting meditative techniques are simple and can be practiced almost any time in any location. Methods can include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and more.

5. Practice positive self-talk.

We all talk to ourselves from time to time, and, in many cases, it may be that we are our own harshest critic. Positive self-talk is the practice of changing the way one communicates with themselves to promote calmness and reduce stress by shedding a positive light on situations initially negatively perceived.

  • Instead of saying, “I hate when this happens,” say, “I can do this. I’ve handled situations like this before.”
  • Instead of saying,” I’ll never be able to do this,” say, “I’ll try my best. I can do this.”

Consistent practice of positive self-talk is the best way to reinforce this way of positive thinking.

6. Disconnect from or limit media consumption.

Keeping up to date on the world around you can be beneficial, but constant exposure to traumatic events can be stressful on one’s psyche. If you find yourself stressing over the events of the world, it may be time to form limitations on your media consumption.

Rather than spending time on endless social media scrolling and the 24-hour news cycle, try instead filling that time with alternate activities that you enjoy, like reading a book, painting, or taking a nature walk. It is important to stay informed, but when information overload begins to take a toll on one’s mental health, it may be time to take a step back. 

7. Connect with others.

Finding your own chain of support is crucial for healthy stress management. Whether it is a friend, partner or family member, being able to openly communicate with another about life’s worries helps relieve one’s mind from internal stress and opens up the possibility for an outside perception or assistance with the stressor.

Finding your chain of support is an important step in managing your stress. If you are without others to rely on, it may be helpful to join a support group or seek out aid from a professional.

When should you seek professional help?

If you find your issues persist, or discover a disruption in sleeping and eating patterns, or thoughts of suicide and self-harm, you should reach out and schedule an appointment with a mental health care professional. A behavioral health care medical specialist or psychiatrist will be able to assist you in discovering the root of your issue and help you develop a plan to treat and cope with current and future stresses.

Live Better With Fetter

Fetter Health Care Network is committed to the continuous upkeep and improvement of our community members’ mental and physical health, offering a wide range of services, including behavioral health evaluations.

To schedule your appointment with your local Fetter Health Care Network team, visit FetterHealthCare.org/request-an-appointment.