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Manage Stress: Healthy Thoughts, Healthy Life

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How you live your life, your thoughts, and your feelings have a significant effect on your stress.

Reflect: How do your life and daily thoughts impact your stress levels?

Managing stress is key to living a healthy lifestyle. It takes practice to reduce stress, but it’s worth the time! Start by looking at what it means to practice healthy thinking and living.

Healthy thinking

Take charge of your stress by checking your perspective, recognizing what’s in your control, and reframing your thoughts. Are you ready to cultivate a healthy mind?

Check your perspective

  • When you are overwhelmed, ask yourself, “Does this really need to stress me out?”
  • Often, we put more stress on ourselves than necessary. A great way to shift your perspective is to practice gratitude!
    • Example: Look at a difficult situation you’re going through and find one or two things you can appreciate.

Recognize what’s in your control

  • At times, there may not be much that’s in your control. Ask yourself, “What am I in control of in this situation?”
  • Change what you can, and let go of what you cannot.

Reflect and reframe

  • Reframing is a technique used to help create a different way of looking at a situation.
  • Pay attention to your inner dialogue so you can reframe your thoughts to be positive. This technique can help you reduce stress and feel empowered.
  • Example:
    • Self-talk: “I’m never going to be able to balance everything.”
    • Reframe: “I’m going to handle one task at a time and revisit my priorities.”

Healthy life

Evaluating your priorities, pace, and communication can transform your daily stress levels.

Prioritize your time

  • Identify your top priorities daily so your schedule reflects the level of importance.
    • Everything cannot be equally important and urgent.
  • Be realistic with your time, delegate when necessary, and set healthy boundaries.
    • Set healthy boundaries by communicating your needs to others.
    • Example: Practice self-care by blocking your calendar for exercise and ask your coworkers or loved ones to respect the time on your calendar.

Pace instead of race

  • Recognize the pace at which you work and evaluate if this contributes to your stress levels.
    • Example: You’re always rushing around, which increases your anxiety and stress.
  • Plan ahead and allow enough time to get your tasks complete.
    • Example: Write down your daily tasks with a realistic start and end time.

Be assertive and advocate for yourself

  • Being firm isn’t aggressive. You are standing up for yourself!
  • Use clear and effective language to communicate what you need.
    • Use “I” statements vs. “you.”
    • Example: “I need support with the chores,” instead of “You’re not helpful!”
  • It’s OK to say “no” to others.
    • Always saying “yes” to others leads you to say no to yourself and your health.
    • Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re selfish; it means your well-being is a priority.
    • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check your calendar and circle all of the events you can delegate or remove without causing issues for yourself or anyone else.
  • It’s also OK to ask for help.
    • Social support is critical to our health and well-being, and everyone needs support.
    • Identify what you need help with and create a network that will support you.

Create more balance

  • Assess where your life needs more or less of something to reduce stress.
    • Example: You notice watching the news can create stress in your day. Set a time limit on reading or watching the news.
  • Create time for people who bring positivity to your life.
    • You don’t have to feel stuck in your stressful emotions; call a friend or family member that brings out the best in you.

Sometimes stress can turn into depression. If you ever feel that you may be at risk of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Ultimately, your thoughts and how you live your life greatly impact your stress and overall health. What actions will you take to manage your stress this week?

Keep in mind, you don’t want your “cup” to overflow with all of life’s stressors! Pouring out some of the water in your life’s cup will help you achieve better health, mental clarity, and peacefulness.

Challenge yourself to see how much better you can feel by taking these action steps toward lessening your stress! 

Photo credit: Stephen Kelly/Getty Images