Summer isn’t only about swimming and vacations — it can be a stressful time for many people. If you are stressed this summer, try these five tips.
Stress is part of everyday life. In fact, sometimes it’s normal and not all bad. It can actually motivate people to prepare or perform. For example, stress may boost your performance when you take a test. It can even save lives in some situations.
However, stress can negatively affect your health. It can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. If stress becomes chronic — meaning it lasts for too long — it starts to affect many systems in your body, such as your immune system. People under chronic stress tend to be more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu or common cold.
Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Because no one’s life is completely stress-free, it is important to know how to manage stress this summer and all year long.
1) Learn Your Stressors
Learn your triggers, or stressors. Stressors may include family, work and relationships.
If you cannot pinpoint your stress, try writing in a journal when you are feeling stressed and then looking for a pattern. This can help you avoid stressors in the future. For example, if you know a health problem is stressing you out, speak with your health care provider. He or she can help you better manage your health and, as a result, reduce your stress.
By reducing your stress, you are, in turn, helping to prevent the negative toll stress can have on your health — a win-win.
2) Take Care of Your Body
Make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep and exercising daily. Hunger can worsen stressful situations. Do not skip meals, and always have healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand. In addition, avoid high-sugar snack foods. Instead, opt for vegetables, lean proteins, fruits and whole grains.
A lack of sleep can also compound stress. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night so your body and mind are well-rested. Also, try to limit alcohol and caffeine intake. These substances may aggravate stress or anxiety. Instead, try drinking more water.
Staying active is also an important part of reducing stress. When you exercise, the brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. Did you know dancing and golfing count as exercise? Find something you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Find an exercise partner to keep you motivated.
Be sure to ask your health care provider before starting an exercise program, as not all exercise programs are safe for everyone.
3) Do Something You Like
When you are feeling stressed, do something you enjoy, such as baking, gardening or dancing. This can help you relax and take your mind off of what’s stressing you out.
Meditation, yoga, tai chi and other gentle exercises are all relaxing activities that can reduce stress. Try to schedule regular times for these activities.
Also, try taking slow, deep breaths or slowly counting to 10. The best part about deep breathing is that you can practice this technique almost anywhere and at any time. To do this, follow these steps:
- Sit still or lie down. Next, place one hand on your stomach and place your other hand over your heart.
- Inhale slowly until you feel your stomach rise. Hold your breath for a moment.
- Exhale slowly. Feel your stomach fall. Repeat.
If this doesn’t help, try taking a quick timeout to meditate or listen to music. Stepping back from problems and performing these relaxation techniques may clear your head.
5) Ask for Help
Stay connected with people you can count on for support. Ask friends and family members for help. Speak with a health care professional like a physician or therapist if you need professional help.
Everyone faces stress occasionally, but it can be managed. For more tips on how to manage stress, speak with your local pharmacist.