How can I help handle my stress?

Don’t let stress make you sick. As women, we tend to carry a higher burden of stress than we should. Often we aren’t even aware of our stress levels. Listen to your body, so that you know when stress is affecting your health. Here are ways to help you handle your stress.  .   

  • Relax. It’s important to unwind. Each person has her own way to relax. Some ways include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. If you can’t do these things, take a few minutes to sit, listen to soothing music, or read a book.

  • Make time for yourself. It’s important to care for yourself. Think of this as an order from your doctor, so you don’t feel guilty! No matter how busy you are, you can try to set aside at least 15 minutes each day in your schedule to do something for yourself, like taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, or calling a friend.

  • Sleep. Sleeping is a great way to help both your body and mind. Your stress could get worse if you don’t get enough sleep. You also can’t fight off sickness as well when you sleep poorly. With enough sleep, you can tackle your problems better and lower your risk for illness. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

  • Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Good sources of protein can be peanut butter, chicken, or tuna salad. Eat whole-grains, such as wheat breads and wheat crackers. Don’t be fooled by the jolt you get from caffeine or sugar. Your energy will wear off, and you will feel worse than you did before.

  • Get moving. Believe it or not, getting physical activity not only helps relieve your tense muscles, but helps your mood too! Your body makes certain chemicals, called endorphins, during and after you work out. They relieve stress and improve your mood.

  • Talk to friends. Talk to your friends to help you work through your stress. Friends are good listeners. Finding someone who will let you talk freely about your problems and feelings without judging you does a world of good. It also helps to hear a different point of view. Friends will remind you that you’re not alone.

  • Get help from a professional if you need it. Talk to a therapist.  A therapist can help you work through stress and find better ways to deal with problems. For more serious stress related disorders, like PTSD, therapy can be helpful. There also are medications that can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and help promote sleep.

  • Compromise. Sometimes, it’s not always worth the stress to argue. Give in once in awhile.

  • Write down your thoughts. Have you ever typed an email to a friend about your lousy day and felt better afterward? Why not grab a pen and paper and write down what’s going on in your life! Keeping a journal can be a great way to get things off your chest and work through issues. Later, you can go back and read through your journal and see how you’ve made progress!  Also, be sure to write down the positive things happening in your life.  Remember, what you focus on will expand, so take a moment to think about what makes you happy.  This can help decrease your stress.

  • Use Positive Affirmations.  Take a few minutes out of your day, relax and think about something you want in your life, and frame it in a positive way.  To relieve stress, an example could be: “I have plenty of time to get everything done.”  These types of statements can reduce stress.

  • Help others. Helping someone else can help you. Help your neighbor, or volunteer in your community.

  • Get a hobby.  Find something you enjoy. Make sure to give yourself time to explore your interests.  Start by adding one thing you enjoy to your weekly routine.

  • Set limits.  When it comes to things like work and family, figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in the day.  Set limits with yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.

  • Plan your time.  Think ahead about how you’re going to spend your time. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do, and get it done first.  Do the rest another day.

  • Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways.  This includes drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.