Manage Your Stress
Everyone has stress. Whether it's the child who's anxious about an exam or the adult who's struggling to get through a tough job assignment, stress is a normal part of life. It's also not necessarily a bad thing. In small doses, stress can enhance our performance, help us persevere through an emergency, and push us toward higher goals. More important, stress can be essential to our survival.
The problem occurs when the stress is chronic. When you feel stressed out all the time, your health can be affected. For one thing, you might start eating poorly. Not only are you more likely to grab a doughnut than an apple, but you're also less likely to exercise, sleep well, and take care of yourself.
Many people deal with stress by overeating, which can trigger unwanted weight gain. If that's your pattern, learn to identify the stressors and develop other, nonfood ways for coping, such as calling a friend, taking a walk, or writing in a journal. Make plans to do these things before the stress strikes.
If you have a chronic condition like thyroid disease, you may be less likely to remember your medications, make necessary doctor appointments, and take measures to stay well. And if stress evolves into full-blown depression, which it can, you may adopt a lackadaisical attitude that can interfere with your efforts to stay healthy. That's why learning to manage stress is so important to anyone with a chronic illness.
Minimize Stressful Events
It sounds easy enough, but many people set themselves up for stressful events. They spend time with people they despise, perform tasks they feel resentful doing, and get themselves involved in situations they find distressing.
Changing the way you do things and learning to avoid stressful situations and people can go a long way toward reducing your stress. For instance, if you hate being late for appointments, leave your house a little early. If you can't stand dinner with the in-laws every week, tell your spouse you'd like to come every other week. If you hate your boss, start looking for ways to change jobs. The idea is to identify your stressors and then take actions that make them a lesser part of your life. Sometimes, just taking action can provide relief from the stress, even if change doesn't follow.
Keep Your Perspective
Stress doesn't just come from the actual events that occur in your life. It's also the result of how you perceive an event. For instance, you might find it stressful to plan a vacation. But your best friend might view it as an opportunity to do some armchair traveling. Shifting your thinking to a less stressful mind-set can play a key role in taking control of stress.
Try altering the way you view stressful situations. Maybe you can't give your annoying sister a personality makeover. But you can change the way you think of her.
Try Relaxation Exercises
No matter what you do, you will never completely rid your life of stress. That's where relaxation exercises can help. Making time to relax can make a world of difference in how you feel, mentally, physically, even emotionally. Here are just a few ways to incorporate relaxation into your day.
Take a break with a cup of hot herbal tea.
Go for a short walk with a friend.
Give meditation a try. Even five minutes of mindful breathing can be refreshing.
Take a stretching break every hour or two.
Call a friend who makes you laugh.
Get a massage.