5 Ways to Manage Stress & Improve Mental Health

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and our bodies can handle small doses of stress. However, if a person is experiencing large amounts or consistent moments of stress (chronic stress), it can start to impact their physical and mental health.

While stress is not inherently a bad thing, how you handle stress influences how it will affect your health. At Vivage, we understand the impact that stress can have on the mind and body. This is why we want to share tips to help you manage and reduce your stress, preventing it from negatively impacting your overall health and well-being.

The Impact of Stress on the Mind and Body

Stress is the body’s natural survival technique. 

In more primitive times, our body’s response to dangerous situations is how we survived. When the body senses a threat, it releases specific hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol to enhance performance. According to the Mayo Clinic

“Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose, and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.”

These two hormones are beneficial in a dangerous situation. Still, the continuous release of adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream is known as chronic stress and has been linked to the development of other health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease,
  • Asthma,
  • Obesity,
  • Anxiety and depression,
  • Headaches,
  • Muscle tension and pain,
  • Digestive problems,
  • Sleep issues,
  • And even Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Tips for Stress Management

The impact of stress goes well beyond stress symptoms alone., making it crucial to learn ways to manage stress that work for you.

#1 Identify Your Sources of Stress

Stress management is not a “one-size-fits-all” strategy, and the same can be said about what causes stress. You may experience stress from something that another person may not, and vice versa. So, the first step to managing stress is identifying what is causing it.

One way to do this is through journaling. Whenever you feel stressed, write down your current situation and what caused you to feel this way. By doing this consistently, you will be able to recognize patterns and common triggers that lead to you feeling stressed.

#2 Get Plenty of Exercise

While stress releases adrenaline and cortisol, exercising releases hormones that can help counteract the ones linked to stress. 

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America states, “exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers.” Known as the “feel good” hormone, endorphins help improve mood, thus reducing feelings of stress.

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#3 Maintain a Healthy Diet

Another one of the ways to manage stress is to maintain a healthy diet. By feeding your mind and body the nutrients it needs, you enable them to perform their functions properly.

“Nutrition is important as stress can deplete certain vitamins, such as A, B complex, C and E. Maintaining proper nutrition not only helps your body feel better but your mind as well, which allows you to better combat stress (Mayo Clinic).”

#4 Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is the body’s natural way of resetting. Getting quality sleep allows your body to repair itself from the day before and refresh for the day ahead. By prioritizing sleep and practicing good sleeping habits, your mind and body will be better equipped to handle any stress that you may face the next day.

#5 Make Time for Yourself

Many people believe that relaxation and practicing self-care are indulgences, but they are a necessity. When you are always on the go, you can push yourself too hard, leading to more stress.

Take time each day to practice self-care and make time for your hobbies. You do not have to spend hours a day doing this. Instead, take five minutes out of your morning routine to practice deep breathing. Another simple way to practice self-care is to turn your phone off every evening, allowing you to be present and relax.

Reducing and relieving stress is all about finding what works for you and creating a healthy balance in your life. For more tips on leading a healthy lifestyle or the care and support we offer throughout our Vivage communities, subscribe to our blog!

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