It’s not uncommon that you may have experienced more stress and anxiety over the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, you may have adapted some new techniques to help manage those elevated stress levels, and while some of those may have been healthy, it’s likely not all of them are. While some stress is a normal part of life, high levels of stress over long periods of time can be harmful to your health and may increase your risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Stress can be either short-term, like a deadline you need to meet, or long-term, like a challenging relationship or the feeling that you cannot keep up with your workload. Werner Enterprises’ Wellness Manager Ali J. provides some tips on how you can manage those stressful feelings, short and long term, by manipulating both our mind and body.
If you are headed into an important meeting, in-person or over Zoom, or experience someone’s aggressive driving on your way to the grocery store, there are techniques that you can use to help you move on and lower stress levels immediately.
- Just Breathe– Did you know that taking five deep breaths can create powerful feelings of calmness? When you are using breathing techniques to manage stress, be sure to breathe in through your nose at a slow, steady pace and exhale using the same slow, steady pace. If needed, you can coach yourself by breathing in with a count of “1-2-3-4-5” and exhaling in the same way. To add a stress-relieving bonus, feel the air flowing through your entire body and then push the negativity out with your stress. The great part about this technique is it is silent and can be done anywhere.
- Go Somewhere Else- Not literally, but the mind is a powerful tool, and sometimes simply envisioning “your happy place” is enough to get you out of the stressful moment that you are having.
- Walk It Out- Though in most cases you shouldn’t walk away from your problems, taking a five-minute walk can provide a needed change of scenery and a few moments alone for you to focus on either breathing or finding your “happy place.”
Chronic or Long-Term Stress
Stress from work, relationships or daily stresses that go unmanaged can lead to chronic stress. Remember, chronic stress may be a factor in chronic diseases, so it is important to address chronic stress regularly and find effective techniques that promote positive behaviors.
- Have an Attitude of Gratitude- Gratitude can help put things into perspective and remind you of the many different tools that we have to manage our stress. If you want to improve your gratitude, start with something, someone and yourself. Name something you are thankful for, someone that you are thankful for and something about yourself that you are grateful for.
- Speak Kindly to Yourself- Though this one seems simple, during stressful times we tend to focus on the negative instead of focusing on the positive. Statements like “you got this” and “you are strong” are enough to overpower negative thoughts.
- Manage Your Time- Creating a sense of accomplishment in daily tasks can help decrease chronic stress, boost your mood and allow you to maintain productivity. Keep in mind that it is essential to keep realistic timelines for task completion. If you only have one hour but have a task that will easily take two hours, allocate the right amount of time to that task, potentially by breaking it into more manageable tasks instead of trying to finish it all in one hour.
If you feel as though your stress levels cannot be managed through one or multiple techniques, you may want to talk to a licensed professional who can help create useful stress management techniques for you.
For more tips on health and wellness, reach out to your company’s wellness manager today!