Stressed Out? 3 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

So, I was recently asked to present to the staff of a local high school on self-care.  It is a very important topic for teachers because they are supporting our children. Some children have challenges and trauma, but it is really such an important topic for ALL OF US.  In our society, we tend to take better care of our physical health than our mental health.  We eat healthy food, try to exercise, and go to the doctor when we get sick.

Of course taking good care of our physical health improves our mental health.  It is all connected, but did you know 80% of doctor visits are deemed to be stress related?  That is a pretty staggering statistic!  Our level of stress impacts our physical and mental health…period.   Every day our nervous systems are responding to stress events in our lives.  When we are stressed we get moody and we get sick, but the deal is this:  You can learn to take care of yourself so that even when you deal with stressful events and life situations you can do so with a greater sense of peace. Here are three helpful steps for you to take on your road to less stress:

  1. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is the foundation for all things that are good.  When you get enough sleep you have the foundation needed to handle the things that come your way throughout the day.  A couple of tips on getting enough sleep:
  2. Do not short change your body. Most of us need 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  If you are sleeping less than this, chances are you are not getting enough sleep.
  3. If you are varying the time you go to bed or wake up by more than two hours you are messing with you body’s sleep rhythm and will not be sleeping as well. Good sleep hygiene goes a long way in combating stress.

Breathe:  Did you know that you breathe 23,000 times per day?  That is a lot of breathing yet our breathing is not something we usually focus on changing to improve our stress level, health, or overall well-being.  The way you breathe has a HUGE impact on the way your body functions.  If you take quick and shallow breathes you will feel more stressed and anxious.  If you breathe deep, slow, “belly” breathes you will feel more calm.  Try taking some slow deep breathes when you are feeling stressed and see if it makes a difference.  Even better, try creating a new habit and for 5 minutes a day, every day take some time to do deep breathing and see how you feel. For more in depth information on deep breathing check out my blog, ARE YOU ANXIOUS? JUST BREATHE!

Gratitude:  Gratitude is AWESOME!  Do you ever notice that what you focus on changes how you feel?  It does!  Try this little experiment:  Think of one thing you were grateful for in the last 24 hours.  It doesn’t have to be something big, it can be something little.  Maybe you enjoyed a cup of tea.  Maybe you had a great conversation with someone you care about.

Once you come up with a point of gratitude, bring yourself back to that moment as vividly as you can.  Think about using your five senses to really bring you back.  Feel the emotions you experienced at the time.  Research on gratitude indicates that when practiced regularly, it is a buffer for depression.   It is difficult to feel stressed, anxious, or sad when you immerse yourself in gratitude.  Try some self-care is so important, if we are to really care for others.  I hope you are able to try some of these ideas and that they are helpful for you!  Enjoy your day!

Get more helpful information when you sign up for our free report on creating a stress free life.  It is on the right sidebar of this website.  You can also Like our Facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/MountainVistaPsychology/

If you need support in handling stress you can call us at 720-583-9332 and we will connect you will a counselor.

By Dr. Steffanie Stecker

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