Ann Arbor Psychotherapy: Managing Stress in Your Life
Stress can affect your physical body, your thoughts, feelings and actions. It can be the reason for your headaches, sleep problems and why you feel overwhelmed, unable to focus or irritable. Being able to recognize when you are feeling stressed is a good way to avoid eventual health problems that develop when stress is not dealt with, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. When you recognize the feelings of stress and anxiety, it can feel overwhelming and you may not know how to calm yourself down. Here are some steps you can take to try and manage your stress and anxiety in the moment.
- Try deep breathing: When you feel stress and anxiety creeping up, take a moment to stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply. Breathe in slowly and count to five, hold the breath for a count of five and slowly release the breath to a count of five. Repeat this as needed. Deep breathing can help physically release stress and tension you may feel. Meditation can also be of great help.
- Forward bend or fold: Stretches like a forward bend or fold are commonly found in Yoga. There are different ways to do this stretch, one way is to stand up straight, and slowly fold your body forward as if you are attempting to touch your toes, others do this sitting down. If you carry your stress and tension in your body like many people, a forward bend or fold can be a great way to physically release tension and increase blood circulation in different parts of your body.
- Use essential oils to relax: There is research that suggests lavender oil can be used to treat stress, anxiety, restlessness, and even depressive feelings. People use essential oils like lavender oil in different ways. You can rub 2-3 drops of oil in your palms, and inhale through your cupped hands. Some people use essential oils through a diffuser which mixes the oil with water and releases it into the air. Many people apply oil directly to their skin, frequently their wrists, base of the neck or temples. If you have a headache from stress you may also want to try using diluted peppermint oil and massaging it directly to your temples. Peppermint oil can help relieve tension headaches and can help muscles relax.
- Practice positive self-talk: Occasionally stress can lead to self-blame and beating yourself up. Remember to be kind to yourself, when you feel negative thoughts creeping in try your best to reframe those thoughts and think of a positive one in response. Your thinking can truly make a difference in your actions and stress.
- Make sure you are drinking enough water: When stress and anxiety are in the driver’s seat, it is easy to forget simple self-care such as staying hydrated, eating full meals and getting enough sleep. Try to set reminders to drink water and eat regularly. If this is difficult, there are free apps available that help remind you to hydrate and energize.
- Remember you can only control your own actions and thoughts: It can be really easy to carry other people’s stress and anxiety. It is important to remember you can only control yourself. Keep reminding yourself that everyone deserves to follow their own self-care path. You are responsible for you!
- Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others: If you are someone who loves to help other people, the first person you tend to forget to help is yourself. If you want to be supportive to the people in your life it is important to take care of yourself first. Taking the time to figure out how to manage your stress and anxiety will help you be a better support system to those around you.
- Be kind to yourself: It is important to have friends and supportive relationships in your life, but it is most important to be a friend to yourself first. The more you practice strengthening the relationship you have with yourself, the sturdier your self-love and positive mindset will be. At the end of the day, you are the one who knows yourself the best and the person who is most equipped to take care of you is you!
If you or someone you care about is experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other similar symptoms, seeing someone for therapy may be helpful. If you’d like information about our services here, please contact us for more information.