Stress is your body’s response to feeling overwhelmed. When it happens, your body’s autonomic nervous system activates. You go into a fight-or-flight mode that makes you more alert.
It’s a completely natural experience, but more often than not, stress isn’t serving a useful purpose. In fact, many people are living in a state of chronic stress — and that can have a serious negative impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
Chronic stress is linked to issues from depression and anxiety to chronic pain and heart disease. Since the effects of stress are so profound, it’s important to learn how to manage it in healthy ways. Our therapists at Psychology Beverly Hills can help. Here are our best tips for reducing stress and avoiding related health conditions.
Top 10 ways to manage stress
Everyone deals with stress in some capacity. Whether it’s stress at work, at school, at home, or among friends, it appears in nearly every area of life. Learning how to deal with it is essential to maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.
1. Exercise regularly
Physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce stress naturally. Getting regular exercise strengthens your body and relaxes your mind. Adults should strive to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week — that’s about 30 minutes, five days a week.
2. Eat a balanced diet
Nutritious food is as good for your mind as it is for your body. Eat a diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein to give you energy and balance your mood. Avoid skipping meals, which can elevate stress levels.
3. Prioritize sleep
Adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night. Sleep is naturally calming and restorative. Getting restful sleep makes you better at handling stress and making decisions. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep elevates stress levels. It can even worsen symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
4. Practice mindfulness
Sometimes, taking a moment to breathe is all you need to feel more grounded and less stressed. Consider learning to practice mindfulness exercises, like meditation, deep breathing, or even yoga to create more balance in your daily life.
5. Make time for self-care
Self-care shouldn’t be treated as a luxury. In fact, it’s essential if you want to feel and do your best socially and professionally. Get in the habit of setting aside time in your busy schedule for a hobby you enjoy, a massage, a hot bath with a good book, or whatever activities make you happy.
6. Connect with loved ones
We all crave human connection. Your stress levels can increase when you feel isolated from others, while spending quality time with those you love can actually lower stress and help you feel better. Even if you can’t see your favorite people in person, video chats and phone calls can achieve the same goal.
7. Avoid drugs and alcohol
It’s tempting to use alcohol, tobacco, or other substances as a method of relaxing at the end of a long day. While you might feel better briefly, alcohol and drugs don’t do anything to reduce your stress levels. Relying on substances like these can increase stress levels in your body and eventually lead to dependence.
8. Step back from news and social media
Social media was designed to connect people, but these days, it may produce the opposite effect. Excessive social media use can make you feel more isolated and increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
Add all the negative news stories to that, and the internet could be contributing to your stress. Instead, take a break from scrolling — especially before your head hits the pillow at night.
9. Identify your stress triggers
Feelings of stress can come from anywhere. Most of us have multiple stressors in our lives, but some triggers may be more intense than others. Identifying the things that cause you stress means you can make a plan to actively manage those things before the stress gets overwhelming.
10. Try talk therapy
Managing stress takes practice, and it’s okay to ask for help. If you’re not sure how to reduce your stress levels on your own, give cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or mentalization based therapy (MBT) a try.
Talking to a therapist at Psychology Beverly Hills can help you develop the tools you need to effectively reduce stress. Once you start implementing our methods into your life, you might find that you sleep better, have more energy, and feel more in control.
You can’t avoid stress altogether, but you can learn to reduce the effects it has on your mental wellbeing. Contact our office at 424-331-1570 or request your first appointment online today.