Managing stress is important to your emotional well-being as well as your digestive health—which is your foundation of health (remember: at least 70% of your immune system is in your gut). Because stress may disrupt a balanced gut, it is important to find ways to manage and reduce stress in your everyday life. Here are 4 simple tips to help you get started:
- Identify: The first step toward stress management is understanding the sources of stress in your everyday life. Make of list of the obvious ones, then carry a journal with you for about a week to help identify any other stressors you may have overlooked. By the end of the week, you should have a good idea of your main sources of stress.
- Reduce: Once you know what’s causing your stress, pinpoint the 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.
- Eliminate: Just as there are healthy methods of dealing with daily stress, there are also unhealthy methods. Try to eliminate habits such as smoking, alcohol, overeating 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, many sources of everyday stress cannot be changed. Fortunately, you can still change how you respond to those stressors. 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.