Stress Management Tips for the Mind, Body & Soul

Posted on October 12, 2020

Everyone experiences stress, and each person has a different way of dealing with it. Many people choose to turn to food to help them feel better, and that can lead to more stress when those extra calories add up to extra pounds. If you’re already stressed out, why add to it? Food should be enjoyable, but not used a coping mechanism when you feel unhappy (and, spoiler alert: it usually doesn’t make you happier). Put away the ice cream and potato chips and try these more effective ways to manage stress instead:

  • Go for a Walk. Research has proven that physical activity stimulates the body to release hormones that make us feel happy and decreases the release of hormones that cause inflammation due to stress. Take a walk outside (maybe have a walking partner join you!) for a block or two, or try any other physical activity you like for at least ten minutes to feel the effects. This change in your hormone balance will also help to curb unhealthy food cravings.
  • Talk it Out. Share what you are experiencing and how you’re feeling with family members, friends or even a counselor. Getting everything out in the open will relieve stress and help you feel better (and you won’t miss the ice cream).
  • Take on a Hobby. Read, knit, draw, play with your pets, create a puzzle, catalogue your coin collection or whatever your hobby is, spend time doing it, even if you feel you are too busy. Make time to do something that makes you happy. This will help you feel more relaxed and take your mind off whatever it was that was causing you to feel stressed.
  • Breathe. You already do this all day, every day. But for just a minute or two (or more) each day, pay attention to it. Mindfulness meditation and a yoga practice has been shown to decrease stress levels and increase feelings of happiness in people who are feeling unhappy and/or stressed.
  • Practice Mindfulness with Your Meals. Some people feel hungrier when stressed, while others may not feel hungry at all. When you’re hungry, eat balanced meals. Aim to include a source of lean protein, whole grain carbohydrate and fruits and or vegetables at every meal. This will keep your hunger- and stress-related hormones balanced so if you want chocolate cake, you only want a slice, instead of the whole cake. This daily practice will also create a feeling of empowerment and help you feel more in control amid the chaos you may be experiencing.

Next time you find yourself thinking your favorite cookies will make your stress go away, think again. If you actually want to feel better, then try one or more of the above activities instead!