#HealthyHabits July: Reduce Your Stress

They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.

July's Healthy Habit: Reduce Your Stress

We get it, stress happens. It seems to surround is every day, especially when trying to find that delicate balance between work, home, friends, pets and everything in between. We know that stress is unavoidable- it's so much easier said than done to reduce it, but studies show that not only can stress negatively your health, but greatly impact your life. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can effect your body, your mood and your behavior. 

Effects on Your Body:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in Sex Drive
  • Upset Stomach
  • Sleep Problems 

Effects on Your Mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of Motivation/Focus
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Irritability or Anger
  • Sadness or Depression

Effects on Your Behavior:

  • Overeating or Undereating
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Drug or Alcohol Misuse
  • Tobacco Use
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Exercising Less Often

On the flip side, reducing your stress can greatly improve the not only your health but the quality of your life. Okay, so how do we reduce stress? According to the American Institute on Stress, "Stress is an unavoidable consequence of life. There are some stresses like the loss of a loved one that you can’t hope to avoid and others that you can prevent or influence. The trick is in learning how to distinguish between the two so that you’re not constantly frustrated like Don Quixote tilting at windmill and devote your time and talent to areas where you can make a difference."

Here are additional simple tips on reducing your stress: 

  1. Identify stressful triggers. Find out what situations cause you to become stressed by recording your stress levels and activities throughout the day. Write down all of your commitments and responsibilities. You may need to reprioritize or eliminate certain tasks that are not essential.
  2. Change the way you think about stressful situations. There are some common events that cause most people to feel stressed, such as death, divorce, getting married, loss of a job, starting a new job, moving, chronic disease or injury, and interpersonal conflicts. But given the same stressor, different people react differently. That difference is due to one’s appraisal of the stressor. Personalities can contribute to appraisal, but one can choose to think about a stressor as a challenge instead of a problem. Of course, this is easier said than done. It may require continuous practice to learn to evaluate situations more constructively. It is not just thinking positively; it is thinking in the most helpful way.
  3. Build strong relationships. Strong social support can provide you with a buffer for stress. Families and friends can listen to your problems and provide you with support and advice, thus alleviating some of the frustration you are feeling. Social support can slow down the brain circuitry that fires up during emotional pain (same as in physical pain).
  4. Get more sleep. The relationship between stress and sleep deprivation is bidirectional. Stress can keep you up at night, and sleep deprivation can contribute to your overall level of stress. To break the cycle, practice good sleep hygiene, such as reducing caffeine intake, developing a regular sleep schedule, eliminating screens that can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime (like TV, phone, and computer), and avoiding naps during the day.
  5. Exercise regularly. Regular moderate exercise can help reduce stress levels. It is beneficial for your overall physical and mental health. We have 13 locations in central Ohio with so many different options for exercise! 
  6. Relax your body and mind. There are many relaxation techniques you can do for yourself. They include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and imagery. These exercises help to clear your mind, slow down heart rate, and reduce muscle tension. Below are some free online resources to help you practice these relaxation techniques. 
  7. Get help. When you still feel overwhelmed, consult a psychologist or other mental health providers. You don’t need a serious mental health condition to seek professional help. They can help you with developing effective coping strategies.

Make yourself a priority- you deserve to be healthy and happy. Only when you are the best version of yourself, can you become the best for everyone else. So take the class, get some sleep, go chat with someone and work every day on living your best life, however that looks for you. 

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