We are all experiencing stress! No matter if you are a student, stay at home mom, working outside the home, or retired, stress seems to follow us everywhere. I remember in college thinking how stressed I was and now realizing that I only had class 2 hours every day. Remember those days?
Unhealthy Coping Skills
We all know unhealthy ways to deal with stress such as addictions, over-working, over-eating, anger outbursts, etc. Did you know that stress has lasting physical effects on our bodies? Stress can cause headaches, insomnia, a weakened immune system, problems with fertility, heart and blood pressure problems, and even sexual dysfunction.
Healthy Coping Skills
So, what are some ways to deal with stress in a healthy way? Like most things, not every strategy works for every person but something will. I always tell my clients “I’ll throw out a lot of ideas and let’s see what sticks”.
- Do a deep breathing, guided meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation exercise to help you “wind down”
- Read a book or take a bath to help your body physically calm down
- Appeal to your 5 senses, what are things you can see, smell, taste, feel, or hear that make you smile?
- Talk to a friend, spouse, or therapist who is supportive of you and always “has your back”.
- Journal, Blog, or Vlog your feelings even if no one will ever read it
- Join a virtual support group
- Exercise. Move your body for at least 30 minutes and watch the stress burn off
- Do something you enjoy like a hobby, craft, or mindless activity
Things to Avoid
Just as important as it is to cultivate healthy coping skills, it’s just as important to identify and replace unhealthy or problematic behaviors.
Watch Out For
- Social Media- research shows that even 30 minutes of social media contributes to higher rates of depression and anxiety
- Alcohol, drugs, disordered eating
- Unhealthy relationships that have a pattern of boundary violations, gossip/backstabbing, or victim mentalities.
If you try some of these strategies and find that you are still struggling, first of all know that it is okay! You are not alone! Feel free to reach out to one of our licensed therapists as we help support you to reach your goals!