We all feel some amount of stress each day — this is normal. But constant stress that has a negative impact on your body, mind and spirit, isn’t.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably juggling busy family life with work schedules and social outings. You may also be dealing with health concerns or other pressures, such as managing finances or caring for a loved one. Learn how healthy habits can help you manage these stressors.
First, Recognize How Stress Affects Your Body
The first step in managing stress is recognizing it in the first place — especially since it can look different for each person. When you’re stressed, your body produces larger amounts of a hormone called cortisol. While your body needs this hormone to function well each day, too much cortisol can be harmful. So finding a healthy balance is key. Here are a few signs your stress level is too high:
- Appetite Changes
- Being Sick More Often Than Other People
- Feeling Depressed or Sad Most of the Time
- Not Sleeping Well or Sleeping Too Much
- Ongoing Fatigue
- Overwhelming Anxiety
- Problems With Memory or Focus
- Unexplained Weight Gain
If you have any of the signs above, it may be a good time to swap out stress for healthy habits.
7 Essential Habits to Manage Stress in Your Life
Managing your stress may seem hard at first. Take one step at a time and reach out to others for help if you need it.
Reach Out to Friends Virtually
In-person interactions are off-limits right now, but we’re living in the digital age with so many ways to connect with others.
Take your pick to get in touch by telephone, email, video chat, social media or messaging apps, or go old-school and write a letter or postcard. For elderly family members living apart, try connecting at a consistent time to give everyone something to look forward to.
Eat Healthy Foods
Maintaining a healthy diet can help you manage your stress level. Focus on whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
Give Back to Others
Volunteer or help others in need. Find something you’re passionate about and reach out to get involved. You’ll be surprised how much giving to others gives back to you.
Let Go of Worries You Can’t Control
You can’t always control what happens. Let go of what you can’t control (as well as the “small stuff”) and make a plan to change the things you can. Keeping a journal of things you’re worried about can sometimes help.
Limit Alcohol Use
Women shouldn’t have more than one alcoholic drink a day and men should stop after two (though less is even better).
Use Prayer to Help You Through
Prayer nurtures your soul and faith, and gives you strength to help you let go of things that are out of your control.
Sleep is one of the key ways to manage stress. If you’re not getting your seven to eight hours of sleep each night, make changes to your sleep routine to help get you back on track.
Make a Plan That’s Right for You
Swapping stress for healthy habits will give you energy and help you to be fully present in your daily life. This means you’ll have more time for yourself, your family and your friends. If you need support while you work to incorporate these habits into your routine, or feel overwhelmed with stress, AdventHealth is here to support you every step of the way. Schedule an appointment today.