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7 Steps to Stress Less

     

When we feel overwhelmed or unsure how to meet the demands placed on us, we experience stress. In small doses, stress can be a good thing, giving us the push we need to do our best and stay focused and alert. But when life's demands exceed the ability to cope, stress can become a threat to our physical and emotional well-being. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as:

In addition to grinding away at one’s mental health, chronic stress can also lead to physical ailments such as:

In honor of Stress Awareness Month, Psychiatrist Gabriela Cora, M.D., provides these tips to reduce stress:

Step 1. Analyze your situation.

Assess your current level of performance, productivity, health and well-being. How is your body feeling—tense and tired? Are you able to focus and be present at home and at work? Are you in tune with your vision and values? If conflicts exist, don’t ignore them; think about how to resolve them and plan on improving this situation.

Step 2. Learn about the negative effects of stress on your physical and emotional health.

Identify the biological factors and the environmental sources of stress and review strategies to manage them. Educate yourself about better ways to manage your time and bring those ideas into action.

Step 3. Establish your priorities and set boundaries.

Take charge of your schedule. Make sure that members of your household share responsibilities so that it is not only up to you to tackle household chores.

Although technology makes it possible to have 24/7 access to coworkers, be sure to set clear boundaries between work and home. It’s important that new technologies—emails, smart phones, wearables—work for you and not vice versa. If you have trouble disconnecting, explore your smartphone’s options for a scheduled “Do Not Disturb” period each night.

Step 4. Develop a master plan of action.

First, identify what is not working for you and then create a pro-active plan of continued improvement.

Some things in your plan are nonnegotiable to live a healthy life and manage stress. Those non-negotiable things are:

  • 30 minutes of daily physical activity, which will help us maintain all aspects of our health.
  • Eating well, which means three nutritious meals each day.
  • 7-8 hours of sleep each night to replenish your stamina is key if you want to sustain periods of intense activity throughout the course of the day.

Step 5. Relax.

Learning and incorporating relaxation techniques as a part of your regular schedule will be a long-standing benefit in your life and will assist you in creating a strong core that can maximize sustained success. Drink caffeinated and alcoholic beverages in moderation as these can keep you from getting restful sleep.

Step 6. Build solid relationships.

The support of and connection to family, friends and colleagues is known to sustain those under stress. Incorporate into your schedule an adequate amount of time to build and sustain these relationships. This is beneficial in the short-term to enjoy your time with them and in the long-term as you build a solid network of support.

Step 7. Revisit your plan on a regular basis.

What works for you today may not work for you next year. Children need different kinds of care as they get older and new jobs come with different requirements of your time. Change is inevitable and offers a wonderful opportunity for constant improvement.

Tips provided by Gabriela Cora, M.D.


How stressed are you? Take this quiz to find out.

Learn more from Gabriela Cora, M.D. about reversing burnout.

Learn how to get better sleep.

     

AnxietySleep DisordersPatients and Families

 

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