Stress is everywhere these days, as people struggle to cope with the constant change and uncertainty of our current times. Anxiety, worry, insomnia and depression often accompany stress when we are struggling to cope with circumstances that feel beyond our control.
As a Nutrition Health Coach for Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, I am often asked by my clients for tips on how to manage stress and anxiety, sometimes as part of a discussion of stress-eating, which is a natural response for most of us.
What I tell them is that the secret to managing stress is learning to control our responses We can’t change the outside circumstances that are affecting us, but we can learn to manage our feelings and reactions in healthy ways.
Here are 8 expert tips on managing your reaction to stress:
1. Slow down! No matter what you are doing, do it mindfully.
2. Stay present. When you notice yourself worrying about the future or mulling over the past, bring yourself back to what is happening right now. Discipline your thoughts to note future concerns and past regrets, then set them aside.
3. Practice clearing your mind. Set aside time (15 to 30 minutes) each day to strategize and problem-solve, then put those issues to rest the rest of the time.
4. Let go of perfection. Your best is good enough – really. You’ll feel best and be most appreciated if you go easy on yourself and feel good about your accomplishments.
5. Give yourself permission to say no. When asked to take on responsibilities that bring too much stress into your life, decline gracefully and don’t feel bad about it. Creating healthy boundaries helps reduce stress and empower us.
6. Set aside quiet time for yourself. Take time every day to meditate, write in a journal, read a magazine, or take a bath. It can help to create a special relaxing place, but you can also just take a walk in the park.
7. Make your surroundings as comfortable and peaceful as possible. For some, this may mean keeping things tidy. For others, it may mean having a no yelling policy at home. Do whatever it takes to make your space stress-free.
8. Get moving every day, or as often as you can. Even 5 to 10 minutes can help ease tension and lift your mood.