Wellness programs are becoming more and more common these days and employees are asking for them. One of the most common wellness topics we hear about is mental wellness, and more specifically: managing stress. According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS), workload is the most common source of stress, followed closely by people issues, juggling work & personal life, and a lack of job security. With so much of stress being linked to work, it’s not surprising that many employers are offering some assistance when it comes to handling stress in healthy ways. However, what are some ways that we can take charge of our own health and manage stress better?
There are many ways to manage stress and not all of them are good. Many people turn to alcohol, smoking, drugs, or even “stress eating” to help them escape from stress. All of these do not actually help alleviate the problem and can lead to even worse problems down the road. Instead, try some of our recommended stress relieving practices that can help you destress in a healthy manner.
1) Practice Mindfulness. There are many ways to do this but all these options help you to focus on yourself in a health manner. Journaling is one way to do this. Writing things down is one way to help relieve yourself of the stress things may cause you. Another great mindfulness practice is meditating. By focusing on the breath, you allow yourself to escape the stresses of life in a healthy way. Never mediated before and not sure where to start? Take a look at Cigna’s guide HERE. Many people find activities to be similar in practice to meditating as well. Yoga or even knitting/crocheting can be meditative since it forces you to focus on one thing and to slow down during the time you are doing it.
2) Take small steps. Little things like listening to music or aromatherapy can help you to better manage stress. Certain scents such as lavender are meant to reduce stress. However, in an office setting this can be tough since sounds and smells can be irritating to other people in your work space. Headphones can help with the sound and something less pungent like a soothing lotion can assist in close quarters!
3) Maintain work/life balance. You can do this by making sure you are taking time for yourself. Participate in your favorite hobbies or take some time to volunteer at a local charity. Go to dinner with friends/family and be in the moment. Make sure to include things in your life that make you happy.
4) Exercise. As we learning in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins mak you happy.” In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, “in one study, researchers reported that clinically depressed adults who participated in regular exercise for three months had an improvement in symptoms similar to what might have been achieved with antidepressant drugs.” Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress. Even if it’s a chore to do it, regular exercise can help relieve stress so get out there and try it!
5) Use your insurance. There are many ways to do this. Here are some examples:
- If your company offers it, use your EAP - the Employee Assistance Program. These offer support to employees such as phone and in person counseling on topics ranging from help with workplace stress to finding a daycare if you’ve moved to a new area.
- See a doctor. Your doctor can offer you support in the form of behavioral health networks, mental health services, consultations, etc. Follow your medical plan requirements to make an appointment with a psychiatrist (mental health medical doctor), therapist, or an inpatient treatment hospital. If you need help with these, contact your broker.
- Talk to your carrier. They can help get you connected with the right resources such as community support groups, behavioral coaches, and online resources.
- Use your carrier’s resources. Many of them have free articles and other resources available on their website. For example, check out Aetna’s website HERE or Kaiser's website HERE. You can find even more resources by logging in to your carrier's website.
There are many ways to manage stress in a healthy way and what works for one may not work for someone else. If you find yourself under a lot of stress and aren’t sure how to manage it, try some of these methods. And remember - you can always talk to your doctor about your stress levels.
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