4 strategies for managing stress

There’s an old saying that goes, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” So with all of the life-altering changes that 2020 has thrown at us, it’s safe to say most of us are experiencing some degree of stress.

And how could we not? With our health, jobs, finances and the education of our children on the line (among many, many other things), the majority of us are facing unprecedented circumstances that will naturally lead to stress.

That’s why practicing stress management is more important than ever right now. When stress is chronic, it can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep and reproductive systems. Over time, the strain on your body may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and mental disorders.1 So, how can you manage your stress? Here are four strategies that may help

1. Understand how you Think > Feel > Act

As a human, you’re always thinking. The thoughts you feed your brain translate into emotions, which inform your behaviors. You can create a lot of anxiety in your body by dwelling on negatives, and when you act out of anxiety, you’re not at your best.

When you catch your mind slipping into a negative reel of thoughts, rewind the movie and ask yourself, “What am I telling myself?” Instead, focus on helpful, positive thoughts, such as your support system, how you can take care of yourself, and how you will get through this. Positive thought patterns will create more calmness and less stress in your life.

2. Practice relaxation methods

During stressful times, it’s important to have a relaxation method that works for you. If you aren’t sure what your go-to relaxation method is, fake it ‘til you make it! Deep breathing, visualizations and positive affirmations are common ways to help put yourself in a relaxed state of mind. Once you know what works for you, practice your relaxation method during times of stress.

3. Have a routine (but don’t be too rigid…)

For humans, routine is calming, and schedules make us feel safe. Even if your life currently looks different with working from home and your children virtual learning, you can still have a routine. When you and your family know what to expect throughout the day, you’ll feel better and experience less stress.

At the same time, don’t be too rigid with your routine. The current situation is fluid and changing every day. Try to maintain flexibility regarding work and home activities and responsibilities—because they are likely going to change.

While we’re on the topic of routines, be sure to prioritize your physical, spiritual and emotional health in your routine. Schedule time to exercise, go outside and prepare nutritious meals. Your routine should also make time for maintaining your relationships and enjoying your hobbies. Carving out time every day for these fulfilling activities will help you manage your stress.

4. Plan for the future

For some people, having something positive to look forward to in the future is a great way to help alleviate the stresses of today.

For example, you could start thinking about a future vacation. You could read travel books and blogs about your destination, start planning an itinerary, and create a mood board of inspiration for your trip. Looking forward to your trip will help you maintain perspective and remember that today’s challenges are temporary, and things will get better.

We’re all in the same storm, just different boats

Washington National is here for you. Visit our website here to discover all the ways we’re supporting our customers, associates, agents and partners through these challenging times. 

1National Institute of Mental Health, 5 Things You Should Know About Stress, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml, 2020.

Health Advocate, Preparing for Our New Normal: How to Manage Stress During and After the pandemic, https://engage.vevent.com/rt/healthadvocateinc/index.jsp?seid=1418, 2020.