Ever feel like “I can’t even” before your feet even hit the ground in the morning? If so, welcome to the land of anxiety. You’re not alone. Everyone experiences stress at some point — at home or work, in school, and socially. Now that more research is available on the topic, we’re learning creative yet effective ways to deal with it.
The first step is to identify specific activities and events that cause stress for each of us. Then we can work coping skills into our daily routines to help bring down the stress to a manageable level — and sometimes even get rid of it altogether.
What stresses us out?
Let’s start by taking a look at some factors that contribute to stress:
- Poor sleeping habits: Looking at a cell phone or tablet, or watching TV before bedtime can disrupt the body’s natural sleeping rhythm; not getting enough sleep can cause fatigue and problems with concentration.
- Crazy eating habits: Skipping meals or waiting too late to eat can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which can result in dizziness, headache, and irritability.
- Caffeine sensitivity: While caffeine can help make us alert, too much can cause us to feel jittery, anxious, and irritable; it can also contribute to a sense of panic and difficulty breathing.
- Too much attention to cell phones: Too much screen time can raise anxiety levels.
- Not enough “down time” from work: In today’s technology-heavy workplace, most of us are never more than a swipe or keystroke away from connecting to our work, so our brains — and our social lives — don’t get a break from the constant strain.
- Hanging with anxious people: Being there when a good friend is feeling some kind of way is one thing, but getting drawn up in a negative person’s constant drama can definitely weigh us down over time.
Life hacks to fight stress
Now that we’ve pinpointed some of the causes of stress, let’s see what we can do to work through them. Try a few of these tips to help reduce stress:
- Take a break from social media: Likes, follows, and retweets are not the true measure of your character and value. Put the phone down and go have lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
- Move and groove: Physical activity releases mood-elevating hormones. You don’t have to run a half-marathon; dancing, riding a bike, or just taking a stroll down the street works just as well.
- Inventory your friends: As you transition to different stages in life (from high school to college to career), your circle of friends will likely change. Surround yourself with people whose goals are similar to yours.
- Inventory your stuff: There’s no doubt we’re a nation of consumers; keeping up with way too many material possessions can add a whole extra level of stress. Each season take a weekend to clean out closets, drawers, and storage. Separate the items you’re discarding into toss, donate, and sell piles. Then work through those piles before the next season comes around!
- Manage your mood: Aromatherapy, meditation, yoga, fidget spinners — whatever it takes to help you feel calmer — do it!
- Breathe: No matter what situation you’re facing, if your first reaction is to inhale deeply, hold your breath for five seconds, and exhale slowly to the count of 10, then your first response to the situation is likely to be more favorable and self-controlled.
Just like stress didn’t just show up overnight, it’s not realistic to expect it to go away immediately. Take your time; try out a few tips and see how they work. Go ahead and get creative; change things up to suit your lifestyle and needs.
If you’ve been thinking about getting help to manage stress or other concerns such as anxiety or depression, you can trust Teladoc. Our team of licensed counselors and therapists can help diagnose your situation and work with you to manage it. Confidential visits can be scheduled 7 days a week at a time that works best for you, by phone or video. Once you pick your therapist, you can work with the same one for as long as you need. The best part is you never have to leave your home, dorm room, or office. And even then, you’re not alone — you can lean on Teladoc.