We all feel stressed from time to time. Daily life stressors — from dealing with kids going back to school to concerns about finances, family or work — or even more serious life events can all cause stress of varying degrees.
According to findings from the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America survey, 42 percent of adults say they are not doing enough or are not sure whether they are doing enough to manage their stress, and 20 percent say they are not engaging in an activity to help relieve or manage their stress.
Physical signs of stress include headache, fatigue, exhaustion, muscle aches or weakness. Emotional signs include feeling anxious, depressed or angry; having “the blues”; losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy; or withdrawing from friends and family.
We can’t escape stress completely, so having healthy coping strategies will help us better manage our stress levels and increase our resilience when we have stressful events. Here are 10 healthy, productive ways for handling stress:
1. Surround yourself with positive people.
2. Remain as active as possible. Beyond all of the benefits to your heart and muscles, aerobic exercise also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Do what you enjoy — walk, swim, ride a bike or go for a run.
3. Seek out sunlight. As fall begins, we start to experience seasonal changes, and seasonal depression can occur. To help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sit in a brightly lit room with plenty of sunlight, or aim to get outside to soak up the sun during daylight hours.
4. Reduce stress with mindfulness and meditation.
5. Take time to engage in activities that you enjoy, such as listening to uplifting music or reading a good book.
6. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
7. Set priorities for your work and home responsibilities: Decide what must get done and what can wait until tomorrow, and learn to say “no” to new tasks if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
8. Try positive self-talk: Turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
9. Recognize signs of your body’s response to stress, including the emotional and physical signs of stress.
10. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, avoiding an excess of alcohol, etc.