Stressed woman in therapy

Stress is normal, especially on the job. In fact, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 60% of adults rated work as one of their top causes of stress. But though stress is normal, if not managed properly it can lead to fatigue, moodiness, and even physical aches and pains. Caregivers may understand this all too well. The daily physical, emotional, and social demands of caregiving can add up quickly, and the stress of those demands can take a toll not only on caregivers’ work performance but also on their physical and emotional well-being. Managing stress doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are five easy ways to reduce stress:

1. Track Your Stress

A simple way to identify when, where, and why you become stressed is by mapping it out. Make a chart that identifies the details of your stress: the time (day and hour), the situation, your reaction to the situation (e.g. headache, irritation, etc.), and your coping method (e.g. talking with a friend, getting outside, etc.). After a week or so, you may start to see patterns of what causes your stress and which coping techniques you’re already using that can help you.

2. Keep moving and eat healthy

Disappointing as it may be, ice cream isn’t the solution to your stress, neither is TV. Natural ways to de-stress include regular exercise and sticking to a healthy diet. Substitute your French fries for fruit and take time to jog or join a dance class. You’ll feel better, especially over time. Exercise is proven to elevate mood and increase energy.

3. Don’t cut yourself short on sleep

It may be tempting to stay up a little later to catch your favorite TV show or to read one more chapter, but studies show that when you get your full 8 hours of sleep you’re less stressed. In fact, good sleep habits are connected to sharper memory, improved attentiveness, and decreased probability of depression.

4. Have some fun

If you’re motto in life is ‘All work and no play,’ then no wonder you’re stressed. Although you may think you don’t have a moment to spare, it’s important to plan recreational time to take a hike, go see a movie, or meet with good friends. A good laugh can leave your muscles and body relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterward. Perhaps that’s why they say that laughter is the best medicine.

5. Talk about it

You don’t need to deal with your stress alone. It’s okay to have a support system. Talking about your stress to a supervisor or good friend can make your burden instantly lighter. Friends and trusted colleagues can offer good advice and provide an understanding outlet for your pent-up frustrations. Having a calm listener to count on can boost your sense of emotional and social support. Once you know you’re not alone, you’ll find yourself better prepared to face the challenges that come your way.

Everyone experiences stress, but no one needs to suffer from it. In most situations, your daily stress can be controlled by taking these simple steps to relax and move forward.