May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The definition of mental health, according to the CDC, includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make daily choices. With mental health playing such a large role in our daily lives, it’s of the utmost importance that we take good care of it. Check out these tips for stress management to take steps towards caring for your mental health.
Identify Sources of Stress
The first step to managing stress is to identify the reasons for your stress. While we often associate major events with stress like moving or changing jobs, there are other daily stressors that we subconsciously experience. It’s important to really think about your day-to-day life, and what it is that impacts your stress levels. In doing so, you recognize what you’re in control of and how you can begin to manage these stressors.
Write it Down
Is something, or someone, stressing you out? If so, take a few minutes to write it down. This helps you to keep track of stressors and avoid or adapt to them in the future. Not to mention, writing it down is a great way to release your emotions. Keeping a stress journal will help you look at the situation from a big-picture perspective and better manage your stress.
Go For a Walk
A great temporary stress reliever is getting your body moving. Feeling overwhelmed with work or life in general? Enjoy some time outdoors and go for a brisk walk. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 30 minutes, taking some time to exercise and enjoy the outdoors is a great way to unwind and escape. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, going outdoors can relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness.
We all have that voice inside our heads. Have you ever really paid attention to it? If so, you might come to find that some of that self-talk is more negative than positive. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to think, “There’s no way I can finish this,” or “I can’t handle this.” While it’s just a “thought,” it creates an impression on your overall mood. Although it seems simple, try to cut the negative and create positive self-talk. In fact, positive self-talk can enhance your general well-being, leading to reduced stress and greater life satisfaction.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising are two ways you can contribute to stress management. After all, a poor diet can have negative effects on your well-being as a whole. Fueling yourself with a balanced diet leads to a well-nourished body, which allows you to handle stress better. Additionally, minimizing your caffeine and sugar intake can be beneficial because the “highs” they provide can result in a crash in your mood later on. Regular exercise and a balanced diet help you to both relieve stress and better manage it as well.
It’s important to take some time to yourself and focus on steps you can take to improve your stress management. During Mental Health Awareness Month, try taking small steps to take back control of your stress. Keep in mind, if your mental health is difficult to get under control, it never hurts to ask for help from a professional counselor. Like we take care of our bodies, we must take care of our minds.
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