S.E.W. What? is a blog series focusing on School Employee Wellness (S.E.W.), because hands down, employees are a school’s most important resource. No matter what your role, it is essential that you take care of yourself. You’re not the only one who will benefit from caring for yourself – the students and the entire school community will too.
Stress in everybody’s life is normal…you can’t escape it. We all respond to stress differently so there’s no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. But if you feel like the stress in your life is out of control, it’s time to take action. Stress management can teach you healthier ways to cope with stress, help you reduce its harmful effects, and prevent stress from spiraling out of control.
Everybody is exposed to stressful situations, both positive and negative. Stress is an integral element in all of our lives, and it plays an important role in survival. Even so, stress can have negative effects on our physical and emotional health. Interestingly, what matters is not the number of stressful situations that we are exposed to, nor the amount of stress that we have to withstand; it is our perception and interpretation of the stressor, and how we react to it that is more important.
So ask yourself, how do you react to stress? Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive?
Unhealthy ways of coping with stress can cause more damage in the long run. Some examples may include:
- Drinking too much
- Binge eating junk/comfort food
- Zoning out for hours in front of the TV/computer
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Using drugs to relax
- Sleeping too much
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones:
Coping Strategy 1: Get moving
Physical activity is great for stress management. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good. It also helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone in our bodies. Any exercise will do – try yoga, go for a walk, play tennis, ride your bike – the more you enjoy it, the better it will make you feel!
Coping Strategy 2: Engage socially
Humans are social beings. When you are stressed, reach out to family and friends to connect. Interaction can help boost positive hormones, and a feeling of inclusion and belonging can do wonders for your mood. Plus – your friends probably know what to say or do to cheer you up and make you laugh. Try to meet up in person to get some mood-boosting hugs too!
Coping Strategy 3: Avoid unnecessary stress
Some stress you can’t avoid. But, other stress is unnecessary and can be cut from our lives. Learn how to say no to help with stress management; avoid people who stress you out; take control of your environment; stop procrastinating – feel better!
Coping Strategy 4: Make time for fun and relaxation
Do something you enjoy everyday, and try to unplug and reconnect with nature when you can – it’s been shown to boost moods. There are also lots of little things you can do to help de-stress during your day, like coloring, deep breathing, treating yourself to something and more.
Just as there are lots of little things to help you de-stress, lots of other things may increase stress. This includes unhealthy foods, smoking, lack of sleep and more. Try to combat stress by eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol, and getting enough sleep.