Stress stinks. But a certain level of tension in life is normal. Things happen; challenges and difficulties come up and sometimes this happens more often than we’d like. Stress isn’t always bad; it may be surprising to hear that tension can actually help us from time to time by teaching us how to adapt to new challenges, how to accept new environments and how to handle and avoid threatening and potentially dangerous situations.
But when we’re overwhelmed with stress, when it becomes an active hindrance in completing daily tasks, when it robs enjoyment of life or at its worst, damages our health, stress becomes a big problem. For that kind of severe anxiety, it’s worth seeking out professional help. And for smaller stressors, the kind of ordinary stress that tends to pile up, there’s some proven tips anyone can do to better handle daily stressors.
- Take care of yourself. Stress uses up a lot of energy, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When you’re stressed at work, stop even for a minute and take some deep breaths. Also, stress is much easier to handle when you’re healthy. It sounds like a cliché, but daily exercise has been proven to help stress levels overall.
- Eat better. Well-balanced meals can help mitigate the negative effects stress has on the body. Keep healthy snacks on hand; don’t fall into the junk food trap. Eating a lot of starchy and greasy foods can make people feel worse. Try to lower caffeine and alcohol intake; caffeine can make stressful situations worse and medicating stress with alcohol will usually make problems worse.
- Keep mindfulness in mind. “Mindfulness” sounds like an annoying buzzword, but it really describes an entire arsenal of powerful techniques and strategies to defeat stress. Sometimes counting to ten – or 20 – is enough to make momentary stress go away. Take time-outs if things are difficult at work; step away from whatever’s causing trouble and taking a short walk around the building. And developing a positive outlook really is a great long-term defense against stress.
- Look around you. Evaluate what in your environment triggers your stress and if it can be avoided. If you have a social support network of friends, family and even coworkers, you’re lucky – many of them deal with stress as well and can offer support. Participating in community activities and volunteering are both ways to build up a support network, too, and they’re both positive activities that can provide outlets from stress.
- Beat stress at its own game. You’re not perfect, and you will make mistakes occasionally. Going through every day like a minefield is incredibly stressful. Accept mistakes and move on. Try to accept that you cannot control everything, and work on developing a sense of humor about your environment.
If these tips don’t work, there is another option: speaking with a professional. Counseling, therapy groups and medications can help most people deal with stress. Left untreated, severe stress can be harmful to both the body and mind as anxiety and depressive disorders use stress as fuel.
The Anxiety Treatment Centers of California can help you or anyone you know dealing with stress to find effective, medically-proven techniques to deal with stress and other disorders. Please contact one of our counselors today if you need to get a better handle on stress, 855-972-9459.