Do you often find yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, irritable, or walking around with a know in your stomach? If so, chances are your life is being affected by chronic stress. While feeling stressed occasionally is normal and natural, having extended periods of intense pressure negatively impact your physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to regain balance in your life. In this blog post, we take a closer look at chronic stress, and how it’s connected to modern lifestyle and share action-based tips and strategies for how to manage chronic stress and support your mental health.
How Modern Lifestyle and Chronic Stress Are Connected?
Our daily lives overflow with never-ending to-do lists, responsibilities, and fires to put out. So often, we feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and on the verge of burnout. To make things worse, hustle culture and toxic productivity are the new norms in many workplaces. Employees are expected to be faster and more efficient day after day at the cost of neglecting their own mental and physical health. As a result, we try to fit into societal standards and end up pushing our own needs to the back burner and having no time to unplug, recharge and rest. Being in that “24/7 go mode” has an expiration date since we all have finite resources. Crossing this line usually means struggling with chronic stress, which is detrimental to our physical and mental health, causing issues such as:
- low immunity,
- heart disease,
- muscle pains,
- heightened risk of anxiety and depression,
- digestive issues,
- poor memory and focus.
If you’re struggling with chronic stress, it might feel like you can do nothing to stop this vicious cycle. Luckily, there are so many ways to support your health and learn how to manage chronic stress.
How To Manage Chronic Stress in 5 Steps
1. Improve Your Sleep Habits:
Improving your sleep habits is a great place to start if you are struggling to manage chronic stress. We often forget or ignore the role that sleep plays in our well-being. When you don’t get enough rest, you:
- become more prone to irritability and emotional swings.
- struggle with more severe physical and mental health issues such as fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Managing chronic stress begins with prioritizing sleep and getting around 8 hours of rest each day. That’s how we restore our physical, mental, and emotional energy and handle stressful situations better.
2. Set Your Priorities Straight:
Do you tend to take too much on your plate? Perhaps you often struggle with feeling overworked and exhausted. Do you have a habit of putting the needs of others above your own? Chronic stress can be managed only if you set your priorities straight. Each day is only 24 hours long, so it’s a good idea to take a step back and analyze how you’re spending your time. Minimise draining tasks, delegate them or avoid certain activities altogether if possible. Additionally, block time in your busy schedule for self-care. Put yourself first and see the difference.
3. Make Lifestyle Changes:
One of the best tips for managing chronic stress is to make lifestyle changes. Having a balanced diet and exercising regularly, in general, helps reduce stress. Yet, rather than trying to turn your life upside down, introduce one change at a time. If you have an unhealthy habit, try replacing it with a healthy alternative, such as snacking on fruit and nuts instead of chips and chocolate. Something as simple as taking daily walks can count as physical activity. Little changes are added together to become big ones eventually; it just takes time. So begin by introducing positive lifestyle changes into your daily routines step by step.
4. Include Relaxation in Your Routine:
Taking time to rest is just as important as eating, working, or sleeping, yet it’s something we tend to neglect or label as unnecessary, dull, or selfish. If standard relaxation practices like mindfulness make you uncomfortable, remember that self-care comes in different forms. Commit to exploring other, more active ways to unplug, like reading a book, journalling, walking in the park, or tuning in with your body through your favorite sport, stretching, or yoga. Try implementing this relaxation habit into your daily routine, i.e., read a book for 15 minutes before bed or take a warm shower after waking up. It’s simply about engaging in activities that alleviate stress and bring you joy and a sense of calm.
5. Seek Support to Manage Chronic Stress:
According to American Psychological Association, chronic stress is a real struggle that touches most Americans. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling with daily responsibilities, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Seek support from your loved ones and close friends. Reach out to them and open up about your difficulties; simply describing what you’re going through can be incredibly beneficial as you can understand your problem better and feel relieved.
Getting professional help is an excellent opportunity to discuss your issues in the safety of psychotherapy, uncover underlying issues like depression or anxiety, develop healthy coping strategies, and learn tools on how to manage chronic stress.