Stress has a sneaky way of drifting into your life at the worst moments. It can affect every aspect of your experience, from your productivity at work, to your happiness at home and your ability to connect with others and appreciate simple moments. Stress throws you off kilter, making balance feel impossible.
But, stress does not have to rule your life. There are effective tools for managing your stress and a more centered 2022 is well within your grasp.
It might seem challenging, because recent years have been filled to the brim with the kind of stress and strain that can have negative effects on overall health. If you’ve personally experienced higher levels of stress, you aren’t alone. The 2021 Harris Poll found that every generation has suffered from increased stress as a result of the pandemic. Gen Z polled the highest, with 46% of participants responding that their mental health has worsened. Other generations were not too far behind.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for optimism! 2022 is right around the corner, bringing with it all the promise and potential of a new year. It’s an excellent time to create room for joy and begin building out strategies for addressing stress. However, doing so requires a deliberate approach.
1. Cultivate personal awareness around your stress
For stress management strategies to work, they must begin with awareness. You cannot effectively manage your stress until you acknowledge its presence in your life, a statement that might seem obvious, but isn’t always so simple.
Are you more irritable than normal? Does your mind race frequently and does relaxation feel like a struggle? Perhaps you struggle to remember simple things, or are experiencing increased levels of tension in your body. It’s possible you’re more stressed than you realize.
Calling stress by its name allows you to jumpstart the stress management process.
Once you’ve acknowledged your stress, begin taking steps to understand why it might be occurring and exactly how it is manifesting. Getting a clearer idea of what is happening allows you to paint a more comprehensive picture and, thus, develop effective strategies.
2. Adjust your environment and habits where possible
Busy schedules are frequent contributors to stress. Intentional changes to your environment can relieve some of the pressure. Perhaps an altered work schedule could give you more space to breathe, or removing a few commitments from your life might make you feel less overwhelmed. Make sure you’re setting aside time to relax or participate in activities that bring you joy.
It’s also worth mentioning that some behaviors can be great tools for reducing stress. While you might not feel like exercising or eating well when you’re at the peak of a stressful moment, doing so will absolutely help. Ensuring you get enough sleep is also key to stress management, since sleep ensures your brain and body have a chance to recharge.
3. Take care of yourself internally
Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises are proven methods of minimizing stress. Taking even a few minutes every day to implement relaxation techniques allows you to ground yourself, build a renewed sense of perspective, and return your stressed-out system to calmer ground. An eight week study found that an intervention program dedicated to stress reduction through mindfulness lowered levels of inflammation caused by stress. Another study found that meditation programs helped ease the overall symptoms of psychological stress.
Vera Whole Health providers and coaches have tools and resources to help you introduce relaxation techniques into your daily life.
4. Figure out what works best for you
We’re all unique and what helps one person successfully address rising stress levels might not be as effective for another. Turning to your friends for support could be a useful strategy for you. Someone else might feel differently, concerned that adding time for socialization to their busy calendar will only increase their stress.
Examine your history and revisit successful approaches you’ve tried in the past. Perhaps watching your favorite television show brings you a sense of joy. Maybe walking your dog helps you stay grounded. Creative outlets like painting or singing might be ways of returning to what you love, while a long bubble bath might remind you that you’re worthy of self care. Successful stress management often requires a blend of different techniques and strategies.
At Vera, we’re also here to help. If you find that previous methods of addressing your stress aren’t working any longer, we can meet with you to help build a new plan. Vera providers and health coaches also have a range of tools and resources to support you in building a centered and meaningful 2022.
Do you want support in creating a personalized stress management strategy? Schedule an appointment at patients.verawholehealth.com.