3 Ways to Handle Unhealthy Stress

7/26/2014 9:31:15 PM

Did you know there’s good stress and bad stress? Good stress keeps you motivated and focused, enabling you to be your best self. Your first big job interview, an early flight to catch for your dream vacation, or a first date where you want to look your best are all examples of good stress. But there’s also bad stress…a loved one passing away, financial hardship, health problems, unemployment, or a bad break-up.

Admittedly, most of us don’t take the best care of ourselves when we experience bad stress. If not handled correctly, negative stress affects our appetites, sleep, work performance, relationships, and our emotional well-being. That’s why it’s essential to take care of ourselves while facing hard times and cope with our stress in healthy ways.

1. Prioritize sleep.
When we’re stressed out, it’s easy to lie awake in bed at night, anxious about what is happening or what’s to come. But when you’re sleep deprived, your metabolism slows, you become moody, and your relationships suffer. Sleep deprivation can actually impact your blood pressure and blood sugar! Therefore, it’s important to get a healthy amount of sleep. Try setting aside some time to relax before bed. Take a bath, read a good book, or drink some decaf tea before you hit the sack. Try muscle relaxation techniques to ease your tension, making it easier for your body to drift into sleep. When you’re well rested, you’ll be better prepared to handle the negative stressors in your life.

2. Exercise.
My best stress reliever is running. Not only does it relieve tension, but it gives me time to pray and think about my current situation. My best thinking comes when I run and allow my mind to roam free. That, together with the physical exertion of cardio exercise, helps restore my peace of mind and takes away my butterflies. If running isn’t for you, exercises like dancing, walking, yoga, or bicycling can have the same therapeutic effect.

3. Surround yourself with your support system.
Friends cheer us up. Friends make us laugh. Friends are a shoulder to cry on and offer perspective. Friends keep us healthy. Although it’s hard for most of us to ask for help, it is an incredible blessing to be surrounded by loved ones when you’re going through a hard time. In fact, if we don’t ask our friends for help when we need it, we’re depriving them of the opportunity to shower us with love and encouragement—something friends love to do!
You might have different stress outlets than the ones I’ve suggested. But whatever they are, remember to use them. If you’re not healthy—whether it’s emotionally, mentally, or physically—you won’t be fully equipped to deal with negative stress. If you focus on your own well being, getting through your current trial will be that much easier. These are the times to “look out for number one!”
Do you find that it’s harder to take care of yourself while going through trials? How do you deal with stress? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? We can always learn from each other!