When it comes to coping with stress, we all know the standard fare: pizza & beer, binging on Netflix, mindlessly scrolling through social media, etc.
However, most of these aren’t really healthy ways to cope with stress.
While there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence when feeling overwhelmed or stressed, creating healthy habits that you can fall back on time and time again is critical. You want to find ways to comfort yourself in times of stress that won’t impede progress toward goals, create feelings of guilt afterward, or simply end up causing more stress in the long run.
5 healthy ways to cope with stress
1. Revitalize & REcover
There may be no better way than to spoil yourself with a massage, some cryotherapy, or weightless relaxation in a float tank. If it’s your thing, a facial, mud bath, or full day at the spa is another way to go. Most people balk at the initial cost of things like this, but then drop hundreds on dollars at the bar during happy hour – and feel worse the next morning. ????
2. Connect with friends
Sometimes the best way to unwind and decompress is with some good conversation with friends or family. Reach out to someone (ideally close enough for an in-person visit) and figure out a way to connect. It could be something as simple as going for a walk, hike, or bike ride together. Or grab some marshmallows and graham crackers and sit around a fire with some neighborhood friends.
3. Enjoy some alone time
Some alone time might be just what the doctor ordered. Take a mental health day off from work and plan a “stay-cation“ for yourself. Maybe start the day off with a cup of coffee or tea outside (weather permitting) and a good book. Find a new podcast to listen to or sit and listen to some of your favorite. Don’t be afraid to go out by yourself and take in a movie, visit an art gallery or museum, go to the park, or take a hike.
4. Meditation or Yoga
You don’t have to “clear your mind” in order to meditate. Simply taking a few minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breath for a couple minutes can help slow the mind and increase your sense of connectedness.
You could also consider taking a mindfulness-based stress reduction course to learn effective, lasting tools that will help you stay focused in times of stress.
Hot yoga is another great option that offers a wide variety of benefits such as: burn calories, build bone density, boost your cardiovascular fitness, and improve your flexibility.
5. Take a day trip
Plan a trip to a location you’ve been wanting to visit. Find a mountain to hike or a beach or lake to visit to enjoy a swim and a picnic. If you’re looking for something more active, consider canoeing, horseback riding, or rock-climbing. If something relaxing is your speed, take a long drive and spend the night under the stars with a loved one (or by your lonesome) in a hammock.
Swapping out old, bad habits for healthier ones takes time, thought, and effort. However, by learning to take care of yourself in healthy ways, you’ll start to reinforce newer, better habits while getting rid of the old ones that hold you back.
If you’re feeling overstressed and need guidance and support to find healthy ways to cope with stress, find an awesome therapist or life coach you like and trust to help you sort things out and get back on track.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.