How can I get through a stressful time?

Life has stress. It's inevitable. We each experience it differently and deal with it differently. It's as unique as the way you eat to feel best and exercise to feel best. Ideally, before a stressful times hit you put together a stress toolbox. 

Experiment with different techniques proven to reduce the overall effects of stress to find which work best for you. Consider the following:
  • laughter
  • meditation
  • yoga or stretching
  • deep breathing exercises
  • spend time in nature
  • time with a pet
  • exercise 
  • good nutrition planning
  • time spent with friends
Remember that your body responds to all stress equally. During times of high emotional stress cutting down on the intensity or the duration of exercise can be a way to keep the overall stress load down. Also remember that during periods of stress reframing how you think about stress can help you reduce its negative effects. There's proof that how you think about stress has more of an impact on your health and even mortality than the stress itself. 

Life stressors will happen. If you can let yourself be imperfect in response and take on an attitude of this being normal to have highs and lows when you're tested you'll fair much better. Set yourself up for success by identifying habits that may make it worse.

If, for instance, you isolate yourself and ruminate things over in your head, make it a point to reach out to a friend. Talk with someone who can make you see another perspective or make you laugh and lighten up about the situation. 

If you tend to reach for junk food, intentionally plan to dine with a friend who is a positive influence or do a few make-ahead meals for those times you may be tired. Help yourself make choices that enhance your resilience to stress. 

Maybe you’re going through a divorce, or you’ve remarried and become a blended family with stubborn stepkids, or you have a capricious, explosive boss ... Whatever is going on, your confidence and self-esteem have plummeted and everyday irritants you’d normally blow off (cat hair on your best black pants, dead batteries in the remote) are getting to you at an alarming rate. Ideas to consider this week follow.

Take your mind off repeat. Sometimes problems swell into things that get out of control or look worse than they really are. And sometimes you just don’t give yourself enough credit: You may actually be dealing with your daily stresses just fine, but in your head things feel frantic. Take a step back. Try to see yourself from someone else’s eyes (anyone’s eyes—your lover’s, your gardener’s, Big Bird’s). You might see that you’re actually doing better than you think. In that case, take that mind off repeat.

Schedule a worry period. Okay, do you relish in worrying? Fine, worry away. But there’s a catch: Devote two periods a day to it. Give your worries full attention for fifteen to twenty minutes. Wallow in them in all their soul-sucking glory. Then stop. When they rise up again, tell yourself that you’ll address them during your next worry period. Now you’re in control over when worries can worry you.

Laugh it off. No joke, there’s something magical about laughter, even if it’s forced. Laugh off some of the day’s tensest moments. This is called self-generated laughter (versus cracking up at a comedian) and doing it regularly can make you more positive and optimistic. The reason’s pretty basic: The more you laugh, the better you feel.

Let go of the past. Happy memories can be blissful, but obsessing over bad ones doesn’t do any good. While learning from your mistakes can be productive, reliving them isn’t. Focus on the present because the best thing you can do for yourself right now is exactly what you’re doing with this vacation: de-stressing.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.