Managing Stress is Not One-Size-Fits-All
Stress is a natural reaction to life experiences. But when not managed, stress can take a toll on your health and well-being, resulting in everything from irritability and headaches to depression, a weakened immune system, and heart disease.
Whether you experience stress every day or just occasionally, it is important to find strategies to help you cope.
Although managing stress is not one-size-fits-all, the tips below can help you figure out what works best for you. It all starts with trying to identify the sources of stress in your life and what triggers, or causes them.
Practice the 4 As of Stress Management
- Avoid unnecessary stress: Learn how to say “no” when taking on too much. Limit the time you spend with people who stress you out. Pare down your to-do list.
- Alter the situation: Express your feelings during a stressful experience. Be willing to accept constructive feedback and make compromise
- Adapt to the stressor: Reframe your perspective to be more positive. Look at the big picture. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others.
- Accept the things you cannot change: Express your feelings. Look for opportunities for personal growth. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
Take Action and Experiment
- Be physically active: Take your dog for a walk, dance, swim, bike.
- Be present in the moment. Use your 5 senses--sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch.
- Try mindfulness techniques: Deep breathing, slowly count to 10, meditation, yoga.
- Eat a well-balanced diet while limiting alcohol and caffeine.
- Get enough sleep to fuel body and mind.
- Lighten your mood: Watch a favorite sitcom. Read a comic. Talk with someone who makes you smile or laugh.
- Keep a journal: Record your thoughts and emotions about a stressful situation.
- Schedule a worry time each day to address thoughts and concerns. Then move on.
- Immerse yourself in nature: Take a walk. Look at a picture of a nature scene. Listen to nature sounds.
- Do something you enjoy every day.
- Join a support group or schedule individualized counseling sessions
When to Seek Help
While everyone experiences stress, it is important to seek help if your stress is becoming unmanageable, or interfering with your ability to live an emotionally rewarding life. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, immediate help is available:
Lancaster County Crisis Intervention: 717-394-2631
Text HOME to 741741
CONTACT Helpline: 1-800-932-4616
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health offers a variety of counseling services including licensed clinical counselors at primary care practices. A referral line is available for information on resources: 717-735-7454.