health mental health stress wellness

How to keep stress from taking over your life

How to keep stress from taking over your life

Ugh, STRESS!  We all know that feeling of being strung out, frustrated, scared, or angry.  Did you know that these feelings, especially when we have to face them on a daily basis, can be harmful to your health?

It’s true.  Constant stress can mean too much cortisol and adrenaline in the body, leading to less clear thinking, energy crashes through the day, and weight gain.  Constant stress can lead to poor food choices, addictive and dangerous behaviors, reduced immunity to disease, mental health problems like anxiety or depression, and even serious diseases like cancer and heart attacks.

Fortunately, there are ways you can deal with stress that can help you remain both sane and healthy, even during the most stressful situations.

First, is mindfulness.  This is simply being aware of where you are and what you’re doing.  Bringing your mind back to the present moment quiets the thoughts that can spiral out of control.  If you’re doing the dishes, focus only on that, instead of the argument you had earlier or the traffic from your drive home.  If your boss is on your back and it’s getting to you, focus only on the smallest part of the task at hand, and exclude thoughts of your boss.  Taking 5 minutes to simply close your eyes and breathe deeply can reduce stress a great deal.

Next, take time to meet up with good friends…and make it a point to talk about the GOOD stuff.  Sure, you might need to vent about some things, but get it out and move on.  Talk about something that you’re grateful for, or ideas for a project that you had.  Make a weekly coffee date to laugh and have a good time.

Finally, make sure to take time for yourself.  Some people like to get massages or be pampered at a spa.  Others like rock climbing or sword fighting.  Still others paint or play an instrument.  Whatever pursuit you love, keep a space open in your calendar to do it.  Your family and your passions are the reasons you work so hard anyway, so make sure to keep them present in your life.

If your stress is constant or extreme, and you can’t resolve it on your own, there are professionals who can help.  From online resources, to workplace help numbers, to counsellors you can meet with face to face or in support groups, you don’t have to deal with stress on your own.  Reaching out for help can be extremely beneficial.

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