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mental healthStress effects everyone differently, but you can rest assured that it effects us all. Stress can be good, like the kind that drives us to do our best on a project. It can also be bad, like the kind that emotionally cripples us and leaves us in a heap on the floor. But we don’t have to let bad stress make us it’s bitch. Here are some of the ways that I help to combat my stress.

Humor

Dear Drama Llama,
We’ve spent a lot of time together lately, so much in fact that my dear friends Productivity and Sleep are getting concerned. I think they’re right, it’s time for you and I to take a break from each other. Let’s just reschedule. Does the Tuesday after NEVER work for you? Let me know. Kthxbai.

It’s a lot harder to cry when you’re busy laughing.

Exercise

Physical activity releases good chemicals into our bodies that make us feel good and when we feel good it’s easier to deal with stress. I also find that when I’m stressed I have nervous energy that makes it hard to sleep and exercising helps to burn that off. My preferred form of exercise is walking. I have a treadmill at home and I love it. The days I make time to walk I feel noticeably better.

Nutrition

Food is fuel for our bodies and the higher quality fuel we put in, the better our bodies run. This is never more true than when we’re stressed. I know how tempting it is to reach for the junk food and chocolate, but try to resist. If you need something crunchy to work out a little aggression, go for raw veggies like carrots or fresh apples. Fruit can take the place of something sweet like chocolate and is extra treat-like if you freeze it (cherries are my favorite for this). Tempting as it may be, do your best to stay away from alcohol. Stress and alcohol do not mix.

Make time for something you enjoy

Even when we have so much going on that it seems like time to relax is a luxury we really need to make time for ourselves. Our brains need time to unwind and chew on something other than what’s stressing us out. I take an hour every evening right before bed to draw or knit or play with nanoblocks. It really does make a difference. And it leads me to another biggie…

Sleep

I know first-hand how hard it is to get enough sleep when you’re stressed, and how sometimes it’s hard because all you want to do is sleep, but a good balance is what we all need. Most folks need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours every night. I fall right in the middle, happiest with about 8. Getting some physical activity every day, before dinner, helps. Staying away from caffeine or other things that stimulate you helps. Doing something relaxing for awhile before bedtime helps. And turning off the electronics for an hour before you lay down helps.

Follow doc’s orders

I have an Rx from shrinky-poo for anxiety meds that help with stress. I’m allowed 2100mg per day but usually only take 1200. It helps knowing that I have room to increase safely but I really do find that handling at least some of it with diet, exercise, and relaxing activities works much better for me. But I really can’t encourage y’all enough to talk to your mental health care provider about the kinds of stress you normally have and what the best ways are for you to help address it.

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