We all have hectic busy lives with stresses coming from all angles; kids, work, family, friends but how we manage and cope with these stresses is so important not only for our mental health but also our physical health.
Stress can manifest itself not only mentally but also physically on the body. When we experience stress it can affect our body in so many ways. Stress affects our sleep and disrupts our sleeping patterns. It can also weaken the immune system making us more susceptible to illness. Stress can affect the heart causing cardiovascular issues and it can also cause gastrointestinal issues and digestive issues. More visible signs of stress can be skin outbreaks, psoriasis or eczema and weight changes. We can also experience physical pains from stress like back or shoulder tension, and pains in the chest or stomach.
Stress affects everyone differently. And on top of all of these physical aspects are the mental aspects, such as anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses brought on by stress.
And while unfortunately, we can't remove stress completely from our lives, wecan learn to cope and manage how we react to these situations!
Here are some practices that can help you to ground yourself and feel better during stressful times;
- Meditation and Deep Breathing
This is such a great way to take a moment to yourself to relax and be present in the moment, blocking out whatever is causing this stress. The benefits of meditation are endless as we’ve seen so much research in recent years encouraging everyone to practice. Find a meditation style you like whether it's breathing exercises, guided meditations or yoga, it's important to practice taking time solely to focus on yourself .
Exercise is also a great way to blow off some steam and get those endorphins flowing. Find a type of exercise you like whether it’s running, weightlifting, pilates or dance, find what works best for you and leaves you feeling better both mentally and physically.
- Talk to your loved ones
Keeping things bottled up, while we may think it's easier, can actually make you even more stressed. It's true that a problem shared is a problem halved! Your loved ones want to support you through whatever is causing you stress. We all need to vent sometimes and our loved ones can also help to offer some solutions to our problems!
- Healthy Lifestyle Choices
This can include diet, daily habits and also bigger life decisions. Create a life that is healthy for you in all aspects; eat healthy, don’t surround yourself with negative people and don't put yourself in stressful situations. This can be hard and sometimes we don’t have a choice but also know that choosing yourself to protect your mental health isn’t selfish.
- Do things you enjoy
Spend time doing what you love. Life is so short and we should make the most out of it. If you feel stressed or need to blow off steam from work or family, do what makes you happy whether it’s cooking, cleaning, exercise or art & crafts, find your passion and work hard at it. Having hobbies is such a great stress reliever and if you find a community of friends who have similar interests/ hobbies is an amazing way to be present in the moment and not worry about whatever stress you have going on.
- Build the tools to cope with stress.
Working through our triggers or stress and finding effective ways to deal with things is so important. Therapy and counseling can provide us with lifelong tools that we can apply to other situations and also bring us clarity as to why and how we react to certain situations. Therapy is never a bad idea, think of it as an investment into a future you!
Our issues may still be there after our workout or after we spend time with friends but what’s important is that we know how to cope with these issues and we know how to find ways to get joy and fulfillment amidst the chaos of our everyday lives.