During the holiday season and throughout the year, managing stress is important to your emotional well-being as well as your digestive health—which is your foundation of health. Because stress can lead to gut imbalance and inflammation, it is important to find ways to manage (and hopefully reduce) stress in your everyday life. Here are four simple tips to help you get started:
- Identify: The first step in stress management is understanding the sources of stress in your everyday life. Make of list of those sources—experiences, thoughts, feelings, behaviors—and then take time to consider the not-so-obvious stressors. Holidays, travel, and time spent with family are wonderful, but remember they may also be a source of stress. After you’ve made your list, carry a journal with you for about a week to help identify any other stressors you may not have thought to add to the list. By the end of the week, you will have a good idea of your main sources of stress.
- Reduce: Once you know what’s causing your stress, pinpoint those stressors you are able to eliminate or reduce. The least favorite item on your to-do list? Find a way to cross it off for good. Your late-night snacking habit? It may feel good in the moment, but you tend to regret it afterward. Do your best to recognize the behaviors that ultimately stress you out, and remember you have the ability to make a change. Time management is crucial to helping reduce your stress level; there are only so many hours of the day, so try to make sure not every minute is filled with a task.
- Eliminate: Just as there are healthy methods of dealing with daily stress, there are also unhealthy Try to eliminate habits such as smoking, alcohol, overeating, excessive shopping, procrastinating, or taking your stress out on others, and recognize that these practices are causing more damage than good. Start small—replace one unhealthy method at a time with a more positive technique.
- Manage: While you’ll likely be able to strip away a few stressors in your life, many sources of everyday stress cannot be changed; this is simply a fact of modern life. Fortunately, you can still change how you respond to those stressors, which can go a long way toward helping you keep your stress level to a minimum. Simple stress management techniques include following a healthy diet, staying physically active, spending time outdoors, having a good support system, getting plenty of sleep, practicing mindfulness, and making time for the things you enjoy.