Richel Stropky and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff
February 20, 2020
Everyone deals with stress. For some people, it’s daily – people with anxiety, depression, or high-stress lives. For others it can come occasionally with life changes or random stressful situations. Whether we realize it or not, we cope with stress in some way or another. Many times we choose unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating, drinking, smoking, or zoning out on our television or phone.
Stress is one of the main road blocks to a healthy lifestyle. When we’re working hard to lose weight, exercise, eat healthier, and reduce our blood pressure, stress will pop up and be one of the first things to derail us. In order to take control of stress before it derails you, the first step is to realize when you have stress, and the second step is to choose a healthy coping mechanism.
Sometimes we don’t realize we are experiencing stress until after the fact. Learning to identify it quickly helps to address is sooner, prevent it from getting worse, and to choose good self-care options. Here is a quick list of symptoms that may be indicators of stress:
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Grinding your teeth
- Being tired, loss of sleep
- Digestion and stomach problems
- Acne or skin problems
- Nausea or other gastrointestional issues
Once a day, check in with yourself – ask yourself “how am I feeling today?” Do I have any of the above symptoms? Am I being kind to myself? Have I taken on too many commitments? A moment of reflection will go a long way toward identifying stress and addressing it.
If you’re feeling stressed, addressing it right away will help reduce it and keep it from progressing each day. We’ve put together a list of healthy coping strategies to try – maybe some of these can be added to your daily routine:
- Take a bath or shower to relax your muscles and mind. Bonus if you have a hot tub.
- Take a nap, or lie down and breathe quietly
- Talk to a friend – the one who always makes you laugh
- Write in a journal
- Take a brisk walk
- Read a book
- Avoid buying decisions
- Take a hike
- Go for a bike ride
- Go swimming
- Make an appointment with a counselor through your work EAP program. Consider a therapist who uses biofeedback techniques.
- Make an appointment with a credit counselor
- Make an appointment with a financial adviser
- Learn or practice meditation
- Pray/Connect with your spiritual place
- Learn or practice yoga
- Play with your dog, cat or other pet
- Listen to an audio guided meditation – find on YouTube or Podcast
- Self-massage (progressive muscle relaxation) -- can be done with a foam roller or guided relaxation audio where you tense and release different muscle groups.
- Get a professional massage
- Address conflict right away
- Take a vacation, the type where you have nothing planned
- Reduce your work hours
- Delegate chores at home, or delegate work to others at the office
- Cook a healthy meal
- Nurture yourself – take time for you
- Make a quick list of things you’re grateful for
- Listen to music you love and dance
- Visit an art museum
- Reconnect with your hobbies
- Make a “to do” list – getting the thoughts out of your brain and on to paper helps reduce stress and can even help you identify those items that really aren’t a priority
- Forgive yourself for any bad choices, let it go, and start new right now
- Say no to something that’s not a priority for you
- Work in your yard or garden
- Plan your day for tomorrow
Stress is a complicated state, and affects everyone differently. Talk to your Take Control health coach to make a plan that works best for you. We can help you identify resources, strategies, and options that you may not have thought about. We’re here to help.