“I’m so stressed!” How often have you heard your friends, coworkers, or even yourself say something along those lines?

In today’s fast-paced world, high levels of stress are so common that it’s almost seen as normal. Stress in small doses can help motivate and excite us. However, long-term stress is exhausting, overwhelming, and causes harm to our health and well-being. Research shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. By taking simple steps to manage stress in your everyday life, you can improve your overall health and quality of life in the long term.

The first step in healthy stress management is recognizing your sources of stress. Common sources of stress include significant life changes, daily routines (like fighting rush hour traffic or meeting a deadline), self-set expectations, and relationships.  It’s important to understand that it’s our reaction to events that causes stress, not the event itself. While many stressful situations are out of our control, we do have the power to manage our reactions in these situations. Learn to accept what you cannot change, and instead focus on the things you can control. For example, if you are always stressed by your traffic-filled morning commute, try leaving a bit earlier in the morning. This will give you more time, and you will be less likely to be late due to traffic.

Some symptoms of stress include headaches, muscle pain, stomach problems, trouble sleeping, or changes in appetite. If you feel overwhelmed, or notice any of these symptoms in yourself, try finding positive, healthy ways to manage your stress. Everyone is different, and so are the ways they choose to manage their stress. Some people prefer pursuing hobbies such as gardening, playing music and creating art, while others may find relief in more solitary activities like meditation, yoga and walking. Check out more healthy stress management tips below!

Simple Ways to Stress Less

  • Practice Mindfulness – Focus on the present moment. Take breaks throughout the day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Each time your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.
  • Exercise Often – Even a 10-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours.
  • Give yourself a break – We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Try reframing negative thoughts and being kind to yourself through positive self-talk.
  • Connect with others – Social support is crucial to our well-being! Call a friend or send an email to share a laugh. It can be great stress relief.

Sources: The American Psychological Association. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.