Have you experienced an increase in your stress levels of late? It’s understandable given the state of the world at the moment, but it’s even more essential than ever that you practice stress management to improve your well-being. Use these strategies to keep your mental health in check during challenging times.
First, You Need to Know When You’re Stressed
You can’t effectively manage stress if you don’t know you’re stressed. Stress is a natural biological function of your body when it is exposed to outside pressure. Here are a few symptoms you may notice which will tell you when your stress levels are getting excessive:
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Unexplained pain in your body (muscle spasms, headaches)
- Tense jaws or teeth grinding
- Interpersonal issues such as defensiveness
- Avoiding personal interaction, or isolating yourself
- Lack of concentration, reduced productivity, and efficiency
- Feelings of sadness, anger, uneasiness, irritability, and suicidal thoughts
Once you understand that you are feeling stressed, you will then be in a better position to locate the stressor and deal with it. Your symptoms can help motivate you to take steps in managing your stress and removing the pressure may help you reduce the level of symptoms.
Learn Your Limits
Once you start to manage your stress actively, you will develop a deeper understanding of where your level of tolerance lies. Tolerance levels can change over time but understanding what makes you more or less stressed will still help a great deal with your stress management.
Don’t overextend yourself. Start creating boundaries against the things you know will add to your stress. An excellent example of an activity that may do this is always checking the news. It’s good to stay informed but obsessing about the state of the world will only make you more anxious.
Only use reliable sources and limit your news updates to once or twice a day. It’s good practice to set a schedule such as once in the morning and then again at night. Try to keep it at the same time every day if you can.
Monitor Your Self-Care
Self-care refers to the everyday things we do that are essential to health and happiness, such as eating well, practicing good hygiene, and making sure you get fresh air and sunshine. It’s easy to forget about looking after yourself when you’re stressed.
Make the most of the situation and focus on the things you can control, rather than worry about the things you can’t. When you reduce the sphere of influence of things that make you stressed by not worrying about them, you reduce the number of things in the world that can add to the pressure. Also, make sure you regularly practice your coping mechanisms to help reduce your symptoms.
The following is a small list of things you can try if you are not already:
- Get together virtually (Facetime, Skype, etc.)
- Enroll in an online course
- Be grateful
- Get in touch with a loved one
- Read a book
- Play with your pets
- Clean the house
- Take up meditation or deep breathing exercises
Online Therapy is an Option
Keep in mind that stress can trigger underlying mental health issues. If you’ve been struggling with your stress levels, then professional help will ease some of your burden.
Everyone will go through a time in their lives where they need outside help to get them through it. Talking to an objective third party is an excellent way to relieve the pressure you may have been bottling up and can be incredibly effective at helping you sort through your thoughts and feelings.
Don’t think that the current state of self-isolation and quarantine can prevent you from getting help when you need it. You can still get in touch with a mental health professional via phone or video chat. Learn more about getting started here: Online Therapy