When you spend a lot of time caring for others, it’s easy to forget about caring for yourself.
Many of you put your loved ones first, especially elderly parents who often need daily attention.
It’s no secret that stress can cause health issues, so it’s important to recognize it, so you can do something about it.
Here are some helpful questions to test your level of stress:
1. Do you have trouble staying in the moment?
2. Do you often feel overwhelmed?
3. Do you struggle to fall asleep at night?
4. Do you eat unhealthy junk food when feeling overwhelmed?
5. Do you drink alcohol to help you calm down?
6. Do you have frequent muscle tension or headaches?
7. Do you feel pain or tension in your stomach, muscles, chest, or head?
8. Can you feel anxiety levels escalating?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to focus on yourself and relieve some stress. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for doing that:
1. Be active – Any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever.
2. Eat a healthy diet – You’ve heard this before because it’s important. Aim to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
3. Avoid unhealthy habits – smoking and too much caffeine and alcohol is bad for you, and can contribute to stress.
4. Meditate – Meditation can instill a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
5. Laugh more – A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better because it lightens your mental load.
6. Connect with others – your instinct may be to isolate, but social contact is a good stress reliever because it offers a distraction.
7. Assert yourself – Learn to say “no” to make your “to do” list more manageable, and you feel less overwhelmed.
8. Get enough sleep – It recharges the brain and body. Make sure to have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine and stick to a schedule.
9. Keep a journal – Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions.
10. Get musical and be creative – Music is a mental distraction, and enjoying a hobby puts your focus on what you’re doing, instead of what you should be doing.
If doing these things don’t seem to help lower your stress level, a professional counselor or therapist can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools. Learn more from the Mayo Clinic.