Mental Health Month: Effective stress relievers written by our experts
Mental health is an important part of our wellbeing. We all have bad days when we feel physically or mentally drained without necessarily having a mental health problem. But when we feel isolated, lonely, hopeless, helpless, short tempered, have trouble focusing and experience loss of control we may be struggling with a mental health issue that needs attention. Mental health problems are caused by multiple risk factors, that include negative experiences, trauma, unhealthy lifestyle choices, poor social connections, poverty, genetics.
Sometimes it is hard to understand when our mental health is slipping but paying close attention to our feelings, thoughts and behaviors can help us monitor our mental health and take action. Recognizing the triggers is the initial step to taking control. Track the changes in your body, feelings, mood and thoughts that negative experiences produce. Manage your mental health by taking care of yourself: eat nutritious food, stay physically active, sleep well, learn new coping skills and strategies, build a strong social support system and manage your daily stress. And always remember that you are not alone!
From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. It’s not always easy to control the circumstances but you can learn to control how you respond to them. When stress becomes overwhelming, or it's chronic, it can affect your mental health and overall wellbeing. That's why it is so important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body. A calming strategy that you use when you get up int he morning or before sleeping at night, may not always be the best option while you are at work. So it's important to have a variety of stress relief strategies that you can use at any time of day. By doing so, you will be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.
Think of guided imagery is a short vacation in your mind. It may involve imagining yourself being in your "happy place” or “safe place”. Maybe picturing yourself listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you. Simply close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine yourself in a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you would engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you're really there. After a few minutes, once you feel calm and centered, open your eyes and return to the present moment.
Meditating brings short-term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation that you can try, depending on your needs and what kind of meditation you like most. For example, you might develop a mantra (a few words that make you feel calm and confident - “I have the power to protect and renew my energy”) that you repeat in your mind as you take slow deep breaths. Or, you might take a few minutes to practice mindfulness, which involves being in the moment. Paying attention to your breath and noticing your thoughts as they come and go without getting carried away.
Simply focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress levels. Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes.
Exercise #1: Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you're inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you're breathing out stress and tension.
Exercise #2: Breathe in through your nose. Count slowly to four as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to four again.
Getting in touch with your creative side may have been easy when you were young but you may have lost touch with your more creative side over the years. Consider coloring on a black page, any happy memories or using colors that make you feel calm. Coloring books are another wonderful way to help you tune-in to your creative side and get your mind off negative thoughts.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A poor diet can bring greater reactivity toward stress. Emotional eating or wanting to eat high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief but will add to your long-term stress. Refined carbs, like cookies and potato chips, can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Consuming a healthy diet can help you combat stress in the long term because proper nourishment will support mood regulation and energy balance.
Develop a Positive Self-Talk Habit
The way you talk to yourself matters. Self-criticism and self-doubt can impact you more than you realize. If you're constantly have negative thoughts about yourself, you will stress yourself out more than you realize. It's important to learn to talk to yourself in a more compassionate manner. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a person you hold near and dear to your heart. Be respectful, and show your love and appreciation for everything that you are capable of!
Our Team at IMEQ is always here to assist!