Mental/Emotional Health

Taking time for yourself is not selfish—it helps you to be the best mother/father, spouse, friend, employee, and person you can. Though this is obvious, it is often overlooked.

Stress management seems to be the most difficult change for people to make. Though we can empathize with this difficulty, and understand the commitment needed to make such a change, we cannot shy away from the significant need to implement stress management.

Clearly stated, if you’re not doing some form of stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet, exercise, and supplements. It is just that essential.

Stress is, of course, an inevitable part of life, and it isn’t even all bad. When the total amount of stress you are experiencing at a given time exceeds your ability to cope with it, that’s when stress wreaks havoc on your health.

  • Minimize the Impact of Stress

    • Reducing your total exposure to psychological or physiological stress
    • Mitigating the harmful effects of stress you can’t avoid
    • Adopting strategies for stress management
  • Reduce the Amount of Stress You Experience

    • Learn to say no. Know your limits and be aware of over-committing yourself.
    • Avoid people who stress you out. Limit your time with people who might be prone to drama or conflict, if you can’t avoid them entirely.
    • Turn off the news, or at least limit your exposure. So much of the media coverage today is sensationalistic. Try looking for more neutral sources of news.
    • Give up pointless arguments.
    • Limit your to-do list. Ask yourself which items on your list are essential and see if you can cross anything off your list.
    • Reduce your exposure to online stress.
  • Your Patterns of Thought Affect Your Perceptions of Stress

    Consider these different strategies for decreasing the stress you experience:

    • Reframe the situation. Look for a more positive light. For example, if you find yourself stuck in traffic, can you enjoy a podcast or use it as an opportunity for contemplation and solitude.
    • Lower your expectations and standards. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Let good be good enough.
    • Practice acceptance. Learn to accept the things you can’t change.
    • Be grateful. Try keeping a gratitude journal and writing down three things from each day that you are grateful for, and how your actions contributed.
    • Cultivate empathy.
    • Manage your time. Setting careful boundaries for your time can be helpful.
  • Find an Option for Stress Management that Works for You

    There are a number of different clinically proven ways to manage stress, from yoga to deep breathing to biofeedback. Below are several points to consider, and a few options for specific techniques.

    • Start small. If you’re new to meditation, start with just five minutes each day. Gradually increase that time as you become more accustomed to the practice.
    • Make it a priority. Consider putting it on your calendar, just as you would any other important task for the day.
    • Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay if you miss a day, and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re “good” at it.
    • Choose a mix of practices. Some days sitting still on the cushion may feel near impossible, and yoga or another movement-based practice may be a better fit for the day.
    • Try progressive relaxation, or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). There is a free guided body scan.
    • For about $20 you can purchase four guided meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn (the pioneer of MBSR)
    • If sleep is a significant issue, consider the Sounder Sleep System for about $40.
    • Biofeedback is another option that some people prefer, since it provides a more tangible measure of how we modify our physiological response through relaxation. There are many options available that work with a tablet or smartphone, such as Emwave2, BioZen and Quantum Life.