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Everyone deals with difficult situations in life that cause stress and anxiety. Learning how to manage and cope with stressful situations is key to creating a healthy balance between our personal, working, and social lives. Since April 1992, Stress Awareness Month has been held every year to increase public awareness on the causes and cures for modern-day stress. In honor of this cause, I want to share my journey with stress and the tools I’ve developed to help me not only cope with but overcome such challenges.
Many of us might not be aware of the varying types of effects stress has on our health and body. Especially with the recent health crisis, our working and social lives have been turned upside down causing us to adjust to the new normal. Of course, not all type of stress is bad. The difference is knowing when to spot the transition from daily, acute stress to more extreme and chronic stress that can lead to severe health consequences.
Recently, I’ve been juggling to balance a new internship position, work from home transition, and a full-time graduate school course load. While I’m adapting to these new challenges, I know that making small changes in my daily life can have a profound impact on my overall health. Over the past several years, I’ve made a conscious effort to practice a more balanced lifestyle by prioritizing my health first. Here are some ways I’ve learned to cope with stress over the years:
- Identify the Sources of Stress: Stress management starts with identifying sources of stress in your life. While this may seem like a straightforward task, we tend to overlook our own thoughts and feelings. Set aside time to journal personal thoughts and identify your sources of stress, daily habits, and attitudes.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness refers to a state of intentional focus and awareness on the present moment. It’s an opportunity to focus and reset your mind. Over the past year, I’ve turned to yoga to focus on my physical and mental health. Conscious breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques, have helped me clear my mind of negative thoughts and connect with myself on a deeper level. This practice has given me a sense of inner strength and emotional stability that has helped me overcome many obstacles.
- Form Positive Relationships: Reach out to close family, friends, and mentors to establish an uplifting support system. There’s nothing more calming than spending quality time with others who make you feel safe and understood. Over the years, I’ve developed a strong support system that has helped me gain clarity and build mental resilience during times of stress. By looking at my problems from a different perspective, I’ve learned to express my feelings in a more constructive way.
- Prioritize & Organize: Protect your time by learning to structure high versus low priority tasks. Instead of over-committing to too many obligations, create a to-do list to maintain structure, accountability, and balance. By making a list of high-priority and time-sensitive tasks, I’m able to plan and organize my deadlines more efficiently.
- Rest your Mind: I’m a firm believer of treating yourself! Take time out of your day to focus on your health and wellbeing. This can be anything from enjoying a hobby, taking a hot bath, or going for a run. Rest your mind from your day’s work and priorities, and take time to enjoy what you love. Implement a cut-off time from work or other mentally strenuous activities where you can rest and recoup.
Nowadays, living a completely stress-free life is impossible. However, it is important to remember that mental health is equally as important as physical health. The two are intrinsically linked and finding ways to combine these will enable you to create a strong body and mind.
Let us know what you think. Share what lifestyle changes you’ve made to better manage your stress!