Healthy You - Every Day

Stop the Stress With These Helpful Tips

Stress is everywhere, but you can manage it

Stress is everywhere, but you can manage it

Stress is unfortunately a normal part of everyday life. While everyone knows it can affect mental health, stress has also been linked to:

  • Chronic inflammation (which is a known risk factor for cancer)
  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Substance use

While you can’t remove stress from your life entirely, there’s good news: There are many steps you can take to lessen your stress and avoid burnout (extreme physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that greatly impacts all aspects of life).

To help you better manage your stress, Lehigh Valley Health Network licensed social worker Erma Moore shares her go-to tips:

Erma Moore, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LVHN

Tip one: Add exercise to your routine

“When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood elevators,” Moore says.

Physical activity also helps reduce the level of stress hormones in your body. Even better, exercise can offset some of the health problems that are linked to stress (like obesity and related conditions). 

“It’s recommended that adults get about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week,” Moore says. “That may seem daunting at first but remember you can break that up into segments, like 30-minute walks five times a week.”

Tip two: Get enough sleep

Getting enough rest is incredibly important for minimizing your stress.

“If you aren’t well rested, you can become irritable, which adds more stress to your plate,” Moore says.

It’s recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to wind down after the day’s activities and consider putting all electronics away an hour or two before your bedtime.

“It can also be helpful to stick to a regular sleep schedule and not eat a big meal within a couple hours of when you plan to sleep,” Moore says.

Tip three: Eat healthy and stay hydrated

Staying properly nourished and hydrated is key to keeping your energy levels up to fight stress.

“While it can be difficult to make nutritious food choices when you are busy, it’s important to make time for balanced meals and drink enough water each day,” Moore says. “It may help to make meals in bulk or purchase a water bottle with time-related goals listed to track your progress.”

There’s a lot of debate on how much water adults should drink daily. The answer varies depending on your age, sex and lifestyle. Your primary care clinician can help you set an appropriate goal to strive for. When it comes to eating healthy, go for vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lower-fat proteins (including skinless chicken, fish, turkey, beans, lentils and tofu).

Tip four: Set boundaries and practice self-care

It’s important to identify where your stress is coming from and figure out ways to improve it.

“If it’s from your job, look for ways to improve your work-life balance by setting respectful boundaries,” Moore says. “If it’s from your personal life, work on communicating your needs and asking your loved ones for support.”

It can be difficult to set boundaries, so even if that isn’t a great option for you, be sure to make time for self-care and the activities you enjoy.

Tip five: Seek support

If stress starts to interfere with your daily life or you are noticing that it is impacting either your mental or physical health, it’s important to talk to your primary care clinician or make an appointment with a behavioral health specialist.

When taking steps to reduce your stress isn’t possible or enough, talk therapy and/or medications for depression and anxiety can make a difference in your mental health.

“There is a lot of stigma around mental health, but it’s important to know that reaching out for support isn’t a sign of weakness,” Moore says. “The resources available can help you get back to feeling like yourself sooner and help you cope with ongoing stress that can’t be controlled.”

Feeling Stressed? Mindfulness Can Help

Do you often feel overwhelmed or pushed beyond your limits? Do you feel life is moving too fast to really pay attention to and enjoy it? LVHN’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program can help you experience life with more awareness and feel more relaxed.

Learn more

LVHN Behavioral Health 2545 Schoenersville Rd Bethlehem, PA, 18017

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