With a new year here, it might be time to reset when it comes to your mental health.
Stress is a normal physical and psychological response to the everyday demands of life. Small amounts of stress can motivate you to face daily challenges. But when stress becomes too much to manage, it can be unhealthy.
Everyone experiences stressful times, but can you tell when stress is becoming toxic?
“I think some key signs are when we’re not able to do our important life activities, like if we’re not able to remember our appointments or work, procrastinating on important things like paying our bills or buying groceries, or attending to our family matters,” says Dr. Beth Rush, a Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist.
When stress reaches a point where a person no longer can function in a meaningful way, it might be a sign of something more severe, says Dr. Rush. And you should see a health care provider.
“Something serious may be going on, like anxiety or depression, which needs to be treated and evaluated.”
She says stress can be unpredictable, and it’s important to take care of yourself.
“Sleep, eat well, make sure you’re exercising,” says Dr. Rush. “Look for signs of stress in yourself. Manage your emotions. Give yourself a timeout if you need to from activity or stimulation, or interaction.”
One of the first steps toward good stress management is understanding how you react to stress—and making changes if necessary. Take a look at how you react to stress, and then adopt or modify stress management techniques to make sure the stress in your life doesn’t lead to health problems.
Here are two ways to help manage stress that are beneficial and free:
Relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of your body. It doesn’t matter which relaxation technique you choose. What matters is that you try to practice relaxation regularly to reap its benefits.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and it originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
There are many forms of meditation, but most have in common a quiet setting, a comfortable position, focused attention and an open attitude.
Spending even a few minutes in meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit your emotional well-being and overall health.