Stress and Self-Care

There are times when you become stressed out and overwhelmed with everything going on in your life. You are always multi-tasking and playing several roles in your life, maybe including employee, student, parent, caretaker, sibling, child and friend. Experiencing stress is totally normal but very few of us know how to effectively manage it. This is why it is important to know when you need to take a step back and indulge in some self-care.

In grad school, while training to become mental health professionals we were constantly reminded that it was really easy to start feeling burned out. And that we needed to have strategies to help manage that overwhelmingly stressful, feeling completely-out-of-it state of mind. So the importance of self-care was really expounded on us. I think my fellow alum will agree that it is not always easy to make self-care a priority but if you wake up in the morning feeling unable to face the day then you need to do it.

Here are some strategies that can help you effectively cope with your stress.

Positive thinking– It is easy to start thinking negatively when you are feeling so stressed. The best way to deal with this is to turn your thoughts toward more positive outcomes in your life. What are the things that give you joy or a sense of peace? Maybe watching a favorite movie or listening to an upbeat song will put you in a better mood. It is important to identify what triggers your positive as well as negative mood so that you can embrace the first and avoid the latter. When you focus on the positive the negative will fade into the background and you will feel less stress.

Exercise- One of the best ways to de-stress is to become active and get some exercise. Get up from your desk and go for a walk. Join a gym or go for a run. Exercise releases happy hormones, which make you feel good about yourself. Meditation and yoga also helps. Do some deep breathing exercises, these help you to take a moment to focus on yourself and you will feel more balanced. Dim the lights, play some calming music in the background and close your eyes.

Stop running away– It is easy to just give up in the face of stressful situations. You feel helpless and hopeless to change things. This may not be the case. You should try to face whatever has you stressed out, it is probably not as bad as you think. But if you keep avoiding all the issues in your life then there will come a time when it will all catch up with you. This is definitely a recipe for disaster. So try to put things into perspective by examining what the cause of your stress is and how you can change things so that it is no longer a source of stress in your life. This is easier said then done but you will never get anywhere without trying.

Connect with friends and family– When you are feeling stressed out it is easier to just isolate yourself and not interact with other people in your life. You want to be alone to dwell on your situation. You may tell yourself you are not good company at the moment or that other people’s cheerful attitude will annoy you. You are wrong. Staying away from social contact will only make you feel worse. Think about it, you are alone in your room for hours with nothing but your negative thoughts for company. If you did venture out and interact with other people, maybe discussed your issues with them you might get some insight from an outside perspective. Maybe you know someone who has been in a similar situation. This person might be able to shed some light on how you can manage your stress. Point is you will never know unless you are willing to talk about what is causing you stress.