As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, we’d like to remind you to make your mental health a priority all year long. One of the ways to help avoid creating new mental health problems or worsening existing ones is to manage your stress levels. Although not commonly considered a mental health condition itself, chronic stress can lead to both mental and physical problems. These can include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, memory issues, sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Humans live busy lives, and managing your stress levels takes time and commitment. However, by taking steps to prioritize your health, you can begin relieving the pressure of stress from your mind and body. To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of ways on how to manage stress.
Identify your Triggers
Before you begin managing your stress, try to identify what’s causing it. Has your job become overwhelming? Is a disastrous national event weighing heavy on your heart? Are you experiencing financial, family, or relationship problems? Whatever the cause may be, it’s important to identify your trigger or triggers so you can work toward effectively handling them.
Take Time to Unwind
The way you decide to unwind won’t look the same for everyone. Exercise and physical activity are highly recommended to relieve stress, but exercise alone doesn’t always work. Make time for yourself and unwind by doing some of the following:
- Schedule time to meditate
- Take a moment to focus on your breathing, especially when you begin to feel overwhelmed by stress
- Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then purse your lips and exhale for eight seconds.
- Take a break to sit in a calming, quiet environment
- Close your eyes and focus on your senses – what you hear, smell, taste, or touch
- Read a book
- Participate in an activity that is fun for you and your kids
- Get a good night’s sleep
Pick one or pick a few, just make sure you find activities that work for you.
Establish a Routine
Don’t feel like you have time during the day to unwind? Establish a new routine where you schedule the time. Wake up twenty minutes earlier to meditate, or take time for yourself after your children go to sleep. Set goals and then work to accomplish them. Have a deadline at work coming up? Schedule time to focus on work, and then schedule a break at specific times so you can stay on track. Time management and a little extra planning can mean all the difference in managing your stress levels and improving your mental health.
Disconnect from Social Media
With the good comes the bad, and that is especially true for social media. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed by news stories or negative remarks on social media, take a break. Social media can be addicting, so by actively choosing to take breaks from it, you’re preventing it from becoming a bad habit.
For some people, taking a break from social media is easier said than done. Notifications from different social media platforms are designed to entice you to look at your phone. Try turning off your phone completely when you decide to take a break, or if that isn’t possible, silence your notifications or set your phone to ‘do not disturb.’ Even turning your phone over so you can’t see the screen could help.
Talk with a Professional
There are times when stress becomes too overwhelming to manage alone, and that’s perfectly okay. At Cornerstone, our counselors and therapists are experienced in helping people improve their mental health by managing their stress levels. We will talk with you, work through your situations, and identify solutions that are customized to your needs. We will help you take back control of your life.
If you are experiencing high levels of stress and would like to talk with one of our professionals, schedule an appointment or contact us today. Our therapists and counselors are highly trained to listen and help you sort through your challenges to live a happier, calmer, and more enriching life.