In 2021, I got married during a pandemic, moved to a new state, and started my first “adult” job all in the same month. Though these were amazing life changes, that I would not change for anything, to stay I was feeling stressed, was an understatement. I had to learn how to cope with the stress to make sure I was enjoying the process of these huge life changes.
With today’s society (especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic), it is easy to stress. While everyone has their own ways of coping with stress, I thought I would share with you ways I have handled my stress. The acronym I use is S.T.R.E.S.S. and I will share it with you.
S. – Stop & Breathe
There have been numerous studies showing how breathing helps reduce stress. At Balance Chicago, we use a technique called Box Breathing. It is an excellent way to “reset” your brain and intentions, and this technique gives your mind a pause to help re-collect yourself. This will also help you make better decisions.
How to Box Breathe:
Inhale for 4 seconds; hold the breath for 4 seconds; then exhale for 4 seconds.
T. – Take it Day-by-Day
If taking it day-by-day is not helping reduce your stress, take it hour-by-hour, or even minute-by-minute. This is all part of mindfulness and living in the present. Following this approach will help you live in the moment and not worry about the future and all the things you have to do. Life, and the world around us, can get very overwhelming when thinking about the things you need to accomplish.
I love making lists; making lists help me prioritize what needs to get done first. It also helps me organize my thoughts and I do not have to worry about remembering, or forgetting, something. There is no better feeling than crossing off tasks on the list and feeling accomplished.
R. – Realize What You Can Control and What You Can Let Go
My mom has always told me that 99% of what you worry about, does not happen. This has helped me in more ways than one and has proven true on multiple occasions.
I try to think of situations in terms of the “big picture”; if something is not going to affect me in a month or even a year from now, I have learned to let it go. The stress factors may not go away, but you can control how you act/react to them.
Realizing what you can let go of, and acknowledging things you have no control over, can definitely help reduce your stress levels. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help!
E. – Exercise
There are a plethora of studies showing the benefits of exercise and stress reduction. Exercising is another way to reset yourself and reduce stress. Just 10 minutes of walking or exercising can make you feel better and lower your stress. Personally, I strive to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Getting outside, walking, doing cardio, HIIT training, lifting, dancing, yoga, Pilates, and swimming are all forms of exercise and good ways to relieve stress.
S. – Start Eating Healthier
It is good to get in the habit of eating healthier while still eating things you enjoy. I am not going to get into this too much, as I am not a registered dietician, but I will say that when I eat “cleaner”, it helps me feel better. In my personal experiences, I feel sluggish when I eat processed foods. When I focus on eating healthier (more greens and less frozen and/or processed meals), and eating consistently, I feel more energetic and think clearer. Staying properly hydrated is also a must.
Remember, you can still have foods you enjoy. It is all about moderation! It is also important to see your physician and get blood work done to make sure you are not deficient in any vitamins and minerals.
S – Self–Care
You have to prioritize yourself, and that can sometimes be hard. Whether that is working out, watching TV, socializing with friends, getting a manicure/pedicure, or getting a massage, do something for YOU. Do something you enjoy.
It is OK to “say no”. This is an important part of self-care because you are realizing how much you can take on before feeling completely overwhelmed. People will not think of you any less. You have to know your boundaries.
I once had a grade school teacher (shout out to Mrs. Fowler) tell me that a little stress is okay because it can get you motivated, but not to get too stressed out, because then you cannot think. That has always stuck with me and I hope it can be something to help you.
Please know there is always a support system out there for you.
If you have any questions, about this or other topics, the Balance Chicago Team is here to help you! For more information, or to schedule your appointment, give us a call or click the link above. We look forward to working with you soon!
Blog Written By: Dr. Isabella Badalament, PT, DPT