Your Stress Management Toolkit
Short- and Long-Term Strategies to Help You Manage Stress
Stress is an inherent part of our lives. In fact, it’s essential to our survival. Stress is a natural mechanism that tells us when and how to react to potential danger in our surroundings. But when we face too many stressors at once, or when our bodies regularly overreact to small stressors, our mental and physical health takes a toll.
Luckily, there are ways to take control over your stress as it arises, as well as longer-term strategies to help get to the root of your stress to help you live a happier and healthier life. And we are here to help.
Short-Term Stress Management Strategies
Many of our patients are just beginning their stress management journey. If this sounds like you, rest assured that you have some immediate tools in your toolbox to help you manage stress. Here is what we recommend:
Focus on your breathing.
You always have your breath. Breathing deeply increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you feel calmer. Slow your breathing and de-escalate panic using the 4-7-8 breathing method -- breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven, then breathe out for eight.
Try to implement positive self-talk.
What would you tell a friend that is struggling with stress? What you tell yourself matters too! Reassure yourself through uplifting self-talk (e.g. “I trust myself,” “I am worthy,” “It will be okay,” etc.). Find a go-to mantra that works for you, and repeat it to yourself during times of stress.
Focus on what you can control.
Many things in life are out of our control. Reserve your energy for the thoughts and actions that matter. Consider your environment and what within it you can control. Then, give yourself permission to let go of everything else.
Having short-term stress management strategies in your toolkit gives you confidence to address stress head-on. But we also recommend taking a look at your lifestyle and habits to see what other changes you could make for long-term stress management. Here are some tips.
Long-Term Stress Management Strategies
Establish a daily practice.
What helps you relax? Maybe it’s practicing meditation, listening to music, going for a walk, fishing, journaling, or reading a book. No matter what works for you, set your intention, and then practice it regularly to stay grounded, inspired, and in control.
Optimize your gut health.
Our brain and gut health are closely connected. What you put into your body impacts your brain too. An unhealthy diet can lead to brain fog, lethargy and mood alternations, including depression. Ninety percent of serotonin (the happy hormone) receptors are located in the gut. So the health of our gut directly affects how we think and feel. Fuel your body with nutrients and natural supplements that will support a healthy mind and body.
Talk to someone.
Whether a friend, family member, or a certified professional, talking about your problems with someone you trust can be cathartic and deeply healing. In fact, studies have demonstrated that simply discussing your woes with a trusted individual can help reduce stress, strengthen your immune system, and reduce physical and emotional distress.
Not sure where to start? We can help!
The key to long-term stress management is finding a partner that cares about your mental and physical health as much as you do. Our functional medicine approach to healthcare can help you regain control over your stress and guide you toward a happier, healthier lifestyle.
1. A Functional Medicine approach
We understand the mind-body connection and how your physical health affects stress and mood. Conversely, we also understand how stress creates physical symptoms and illness in the body. Our functional medicine approach to care can help you get to the bottom of your health issues, building a personalized, integrative treatment plan catered to you.
2. Nutrition and Supplement consult
What you eat can greatly impact your mental health. Through a nutrition consult, we can help you shift your microbiome, heal adrenal fatigue (which commonly results from chronic stress), and replenish your B vitamins. We can also work to replenish the other nutrients that often get depleted through spending too much time in “fight or flight” mode. Work with our Functional Medicine Nutritionist to assess your current health, and decipher which foods and habits can help your body heal and what herbal supplements might help you feel more relaxed, naturally.
As providers of BrainTap technology, we can help you shift your mind from a reactionary, stressed state to one of focus, clarity, and ease. Using light, sound, and guided imagery with a BrainTap headset (which you can in the comfort of your own home), you can gently and naturally help reset your brainwaves to more beneficial patterns. The result is an intuitive, stress-free state in which healing can occur. Listen along as the Hopkins Medical Group team is joined by BrainTap founder, Patrick Porter, in the latest edition of the Genius of Wellness podcast.
Stress is often just a symptom of your overall health picture. Adopting strategies to address your stress as it arises is just as important as adopting lifelong habits and adjusting lifestyle choices to help you live a long, healthy, and stress-free life.