Author: Cypress, Customer Care Manager

Stress is something that all of us have felt and is the body’s natural response to protect us from harm. When this mechanism responds out of proportion to an actual threat, it can cause complications in our ability to perform at our best. Stress affects the body mentally and physically and can even decrease your overall immunity to infections, making you more susceptible to illness. Learning ways to manage stress allows us to take control of our lives and our overall health.

To manage stress, it is helpful to understand when we are most prone to stress. When we are lacking sleep, not eating a nutritious and balanced diet, not getting regular exercise, lacking a support network, or experiencing a life event, we can be more susceptible to experiencing stress. For example, stress can manifest causing headaches, jaw tension, upset stomach, irritability, increased heart rate, and sweating. Stress tolerance can vary by person, but it is important to be able to identify what causes you to feel the most stressed.

Once we know when stress is on the rise, we can explore ways that work best for us to develop healthy and effective coping strategies. If you are feeling brain fog or a lack of energy, try going outside. You can try to take a walk, hike, coastal drive, or bike to clear your mind. Being in nature or in the sun helps to naturally boost the mood.

If you have difficulty with racing thoughts, you may benefit from trying breathing techniques. For instance, box breathing is a quick and effective technique for re-centering the mind. Start by breathing in for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, then slowly exhaling for a count of four. You can repeat this technique for several cycles until you feel the relaxing effects.

During this busy time of year, you may find yourself feeling stressed if you have too much to do and not enough time. Time management skills can help you take charge of your to-do lists and allow you to make time for yourself. Making lists of the tasks you want to accomplish and prioritizing the most essential ones, can feel surprisingly accomplished when you see how much you are able to get done. By scheduling your time, you can also prioritize time for yourself to recharge and unwind.

Making time for yourself, even if it’s 15-30 minutes a day, is the best way we can show self-care. Indulging in hobbies such as reading, writing, listening to music, watching your favorite TV show, or painting are helpful ways to destress. If you prefer to connect with others, you may consider joining an online support group, calling a friend or a relative, or maybe try a new activity with your family.

To ensure you can feel your best, it is also important to be mindful of what you are consuming. Eating nutritious fruits, veggies, and meats from local farmer’s markets is one way to ensure you are eating fresh and nutritious food while also giving back to your local small businesses and farmers. Whether you are at a farmer’s market or your local supermarket, opting for unprocessed whole foods is the best way to fuel your body.

If you have trouble sleeping, you can try to avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and other drugs. Getting enough sleep is integral to sustaining a good mood and minimizing stress. Try to keep a quiet and dark room, setting your thermostat to 67 degrees or less, and avoiding the use of digital devices at least 3 hours before planning to sleep.

The tips provided are not intended to replace medical advice and may not suit everyone. If you find these do not work for you, you may want to seek guidance from a mental health professional. Contact your primary care provider for a referral.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.