You know that feeling that creeps up, sometimes unexpectedly, and then leaves you in a tailspin? It is stress, and we experience different levels of it throughout the day, week or month.
But not all stress is bad. You read that correctly. In fact, it is usually helpful in motivating us when we have a deadline that we need to meet for work or school.
However, I would be remiss not to mention the stressful impact of the pandemic, elections, social injustice, etc. have on us, as well.
Did you know that not properly managing your stress–level can have extremely negative health outcomes? When we experience a stressor, there are neurological and hormonal changes that occur in our bodies. I won’t get too scientific on you about this process, but know that large amounts of these chemicals can have lasting health impacts.
The good news is just like you need sleep and healthy foods for overall wellness, there are strategies you can put in place to help you manage stress.
I have listed my top favorites below:
- Physical Activity. This is one of the most effective strategies that you can put in place to help manage stress. This could be running, dancing, a heart-pumping cardio workout, walking your dog, or anything that moves your body enough to elevate your heart rate.
- Stay Connected to Others. Positive relationships with other people are so important to our overall mental health. There are plenty of ways you can make sure to stay connected with others, while also practicing physical distancing.
- Meditate or Practice Mindfulness. This does not have to be anything fancy nor do you have commit for a long period of time. Studies have shown that meditating or practicing mindfulness for only a few minutes a day can increase your overall ability to manage stress. Check out one of my favorite meditation videos.
- Allow Yourself to Laugh. Try not to take life too seriously and remember to laugh, like really laugh (*cue videos of cute puppies or whatever that makes you smile) daily.
- Engage in Creative Expression. This could as simple as journaling, singing, playing an instrument, painting, playing sports or games, etc. Being creative is so important to our mental health.
As you read over these tips, try not to stress about doing all of them. One is enough to benefit your mind and body. And remember, never in the history of life, has anyone ever calmed down when someone says, “just calm down,” but I do hope some of these proven strategies will help you.
- Sofi, Francesco, D. Valecchi, et al. “Physical Activty and Risk Cognitive Decline: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies.” Journal of Internal Medicine 269, no. 1 (2011): 107-17
- Nagoski, Emily PhD. and Nagoski, Amelia, DMA (2019) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cylce. Ballantine Books Trade.
- Gordon, James S, MD. (2019). The Transformation: Discovering Wholness and Healthing After Trauma. Harper One.
Brooke Lawson, MSW, LCSW, is the Mental Health and School Counseling Coordinator for HSE Schools and a Fishers resident who currently lives in the Saxony area. Her favorite things to do in Fishers include exploring the city with her family, going out to eat at local restaurants, exploring parks, and riding bikes around the area. She also enjoys spending time with her family, working out, reading (Brené Brown is her all-time favorite author and social worker), shopping, and listening to Podcasts. Her favorite aspect about Fishers is how much the city has grown over the years. She is a proud Purdue grad (Boiler Up!) and married her college sweetheart, and has two beautiful children, Gavin (7) and Bailey (4).
Hamilton Southeastern Schools, as a forward thinking school district, provides educational opportunities to ensure the success of each and every student to become a responsible citizen and to positively influence an ever-changing world community.