Eight Ways to Help Manage Stressors and Feel Better Here on the Suncoast
After observing 9/11 yesterday, the thoughts of all the stressors on people these days are a topic of conversation in my circles. School shootings, the pandemic, and other mass catastrophes are the big stressors that can weigh heavily on people. In addition to first-hand witnesses to major events such as these, the worries about what if this happened to you can keep people on edge. Even smaller under-employed, hunger, mental health, and such concerns can be constant stressors for people. While everyone is different, here are a few ideas for ways to manage stressors in our lives to hopefully weather the storm with grace and some semblance of calm.
Connect With Others
Connection with others is key to happiness as humans, and isolating yourself while dealing with trauma or stressors can lead to negative outcomes like depression. Spend time with friends when you feel up for it, and share what you’ve experienced when it feels right. Even if they haven’t experienced the same thing, talking to others will immediately create a sense of community.
There are a lot of studies that prove engaging in physical activity helps reduce stress and improve your mood. At the same time, sedentary behavior may lead to increased stress, poor mood, and sleep concerns which can exasperate situations. Regular exercise, even a walk around the block, can improve symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Eating a regular, well-balanced diet will help you feel better in general. It may also help control your moods. Your meals should contain vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein for energy. And don’t skip any. It’s not good for you and can put you in a bad mood, increasing your stress.
Find a Hobby
Do you enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music, or some other creative pursuit? Engage in activities that bring you pleasure and joy; research shows that reduces stress by almost half and lowers your heart rate. This allows you to focus on things that bring joy and allow your mind space to process through some of the hurt.
Assert Your Needs
It’s OK to say “no” to demands on your time and energy that’ll place too much stress on you. You don’t always have to meet the expectations of others. Many people don’t want to let others down, but putting boundaries on your time and energy is acceptable. This allows you to feel in charge and give back the power that you may feel has been lost.
This behavioral technique helps you learn stress reduction skills by providing information about muscle tension, heart rate, and other vital signs as you attempt to relax. It’s used to gain control over certain bodily functions that cause tension and physical pain. Biofeedback can help you learn how your body responds to stressful situations and how to cope better. If a headache, such as a migraine, begins slowly, many people can use biofeedback to stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
Focus on Sleep
A common side effect of stress is that you may struggle to fall asleep. If this happens three times a week for at least three months, you may have insomnia and an inability to fall and stay asleep. Lack of sleep can also add to your stress level and cause a cycle of stress and sleeplessness.
Better sleep habits can help. This includes your daily routine and how you set up your bedroom. Habits that may help include:
- Exercise regularly.
- Get out in the sunlight.
- Drink less alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime.
- Set a sleep schedule.
- Don’t look at your electronics 30-60 minutes before bed.
- Try meditation or other forms of relaxation at bedtime.
Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; often, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper. Journaling about traumatic events helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved and engaging both hemispheres of the brain, allowing the experience to become fully integrated within one’s mind.
Did you find a new coping method in this list? Is one of these recommendations that you find most helpful in your life? Hopefully, whether you have been a victim of a crime or maybe lost a job during the pandemic – stressors are stressors in this world. We all deal with big events and small stressors in our way. No one manner of relaxing or trying to process things in our life is perfect for everyone. Find what works for you, and maybe even have a few extra tools in your emotional toolbox for the tougher moments.
Also, should you find that stress escalates despite your best efforts, find a professional to discuss your stress with. Many employers offer such services, as well as online and in-person variations. You can find groups, individuals, and other options to talk with a professional in your community. These services can be invaluable in times of crisis and in learning new techniques to manage daily and lifestyle stressors.
Here’s to stress-free days and coping well, Suncoast!
Feature Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos