By Jessica DuBois-Maahs
To be stressed is to be alive. And however uncomfortable it makes you, it is a universal feeling that is a part of the imperfect human experience. Stress saps your energy, causes fatigue, and increases negative thoughts that can contribute to anxious feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to build up a healthy response to stress that can even reverse the uncomfortable feelings over time.
The most basic and important way to mitigate stress is by taking care of yourself. It may sound simple, but your mind and body are connected in powerful ways and by maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, you can actually prevent and manage stress.
To live a happier life, and lower your risk of developing health issues, here are some tips for nurturing your physical and mental health before stress runs you ragged.
Sometimes your body needs down time to relax and replenish your energy stores. Rather than taking on more responsibilities or saying “yes” to that invitation to hang out with friends, take a pause and ask yourself: Are the benefits of accepting this invitation worth the potential stress?
Sometimes the answer will be no, a cue to have a more relaxing night in.
Whether you write down stressful thoughts to get them out of your head, or keep a regular diary that focuses on gratitude and positivity, taking time to reflect on your feelings and write them down can have a calming effect. Taking a few minutes each day for this exercise can even help prevent future feelings of stress.
No time ever seems perfect to pack your bags and book a trip, and yet it is incredibly important to slow down and take time for yourself away from your typical settings.
If paid time off isn’t possible in your line of work, try milking those long holiday weekends by going someplace new locally. This will help you come back replenished, restored and ready for those busy moments.
Making time for regular sweat sessions helps your body reduce the mental and physical impact of stress.
If frustration is building, take a high-energy exercise class to help you sweat out pent up emotions, which can have a calming effect. Yoga is also another common way to cope with stress through physical movement and stretching.
Nature has healing properties and getting outside can help ease a bad mood or calm anxious feelings. Whether you take a long walk in the trees, a leisurely beach stroll, or spend time on a scenic park bench, spending time in the sun can help foster a feeling of peace.
To help stimulate your relaxation response, try intentional breathing and a basic meditation practice. There are mobile apps and breathing exercises that can help you strategically calm your body and mind, helping reduce mental stress.
Practicing self-care is an important way to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. In doing so, you will experience an enhanced immune system, higher energy levels, and an improved well-being.
Activating a relaxation response can reduce, and even reverse, the physical, mental and emotional effects of stress – and it only takes a few short minutes each day to garner the positive benefits.
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Originally published at www.talkspace.com.