Tips from Rob Cole, LMHC, Clinical Director of Mental Health Services
Everyone struggles with feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed out, and mentally fatigued from time to time. Life gets hectic, work gets crazy, and we begin to feel frazzled. Sometimes the little things pile up, and suddenly we feel frustrated. While this part of life is unavoidable, and the feelings are completely normal, there are actions you can take to help you stress less in the face of struggle, so you can make sure it doesn’t consume you. Having a daily routine helps to keep our lives in balance, and when we are in balance, our stress is reduced, and our mood improves.
Implementing these tips into your daily routine can help you manage stress levels and maintain a positive mindset:
Most adults need an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Listen to your body to establish how much you need. It’s best to get into a rhythm by getting up and going to bed at the same time every day – no matter if it’s during the week or on the weekend. Your body will adjust and naturally develop its own internal alarm clock. If you are feeling tired and need more sleep, go to bed earlier rather than later. This schedule is more in sync with the body’s natural biorhythms. It is why our addiction treatment facilities believe so strongly in re-establishing a healthy sleep schedule once sobriety is achieved.
If you have trouble sleeping, practice these healthy sleep habits: sleep in a dark room (cover the lights from the phone, television, radio, etc.), minimize the noise from outside or use a white noise machine (there are even apps that do this), use your bed for sleeping only (no more homework or TV watching in bed) so that your body naturally associates the bed with sleeping, don’t eat, consume caffeine or other stimulants prior to bedtime. And remember, the optimal temperature for sleeping is 68 degrees.
As you are stretching and getting out of bed in the morning, identify 5 things you are grateful for. This exercise will prime your brain for positivity. People who practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, have healthier sleeping patterns, and are better at expressing empathy and compassion. Taking a few minutes to meditate and set a daily intention is also a good practice.
A healthy body is a body that is better able to combat stress. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with the proper combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods with a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol (if you’re in recovery, abstain from alcohol altogether!). Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily! A dehydrated body is a low-energy body. If you are unsure about what your body needs, consult your family doctor or a Registered Dietician for guidance.
Prioritize your daily tasks and avoid over-committing yourself. Learn when to say NO in a polite but assertive manner. Develop the skills needed to clearly communicate your needs and ask for help! Delegate tasks to others when appropriate. Additionally, one of our favorite strategies to avoid procrastination is to start early enough so you can set small goals for yourself over a period of time. Doing this in lieu of attempting to do everything at once is an extremely effective method to stress less.
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to write out 5 positive things that happened during the day. Sometimes it may seem troublesome to actively think up positives when one’s brain chemistry makes this feel like a foreign concept. Regardless, practice makes perfect, and you deserve to rejoice in your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
Keeping your physical surroundings organized will reduce stress and improve mental acuity. Take time to periodically clean out and organize the clutter in your office, home, closets, and cars.
Pet ownership has beneficial effects on our health and well-being. Research has found that spending time with our pets increases the level of oxytocin. This hormone is often referred to as “The Love Hormone,” and it lowers heart rate and blood pressure, quiets fears in the mind, and suppresses the production of stress hormones. So, looking into your dog’s soulful eyes or listening to your cat’s soothing purrs really does create a calm and positive mood.
Remember, stress is a part of life, and we will all experience it at one time or another. Knowing how to effectively manage stress levels is essential to living a happy and healthy life. That being said, we are only human, and there will be times when the things we are experiencing are a bit too much to handle on our own. In these cases, consider seeking professional mental health treatment at one of our Banyan rehab locations. Patients will have access to a variety of effective therapeutic methods, such as dialectical behavioral therapy, where they are able to work through their mental struggles with a trained professional.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health diagnosis, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 for a free and confidential assessment.