How to Stay Mentally & Physically Healthy While Stressed

Updated on October 28, 2019

Everyone experiences some stress every now and again.

Stress can take on many forms and can be caused by a variety of triggers. It can show up as late nights at the office. It can appear as your children acting unruly. It can also be a fight with your spouse. It can also result in sleep deprivation.

However, sometimes, stress can start to pile up. One minor stressor combined with another can quickly equate to a massive amount of seemingly overwhelming stress.

Your body is a powerful and resilient machine. It’s been designed to withstand a certain amount of stress without lasting ill effects.

But over time, with repeated, chronic stress? It’s bound to reach a tipping point before too long.

When it gets to that level, your body will start to revolt. Until you remove the stressors, you’ll start to notice little issues here and there.

You’re getting sick more often. You’re gaining weight. You’re tired all the time.

There’s only so much stress your body can take before you need to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to the havoc it’s wreaking on you. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help manage your stress levels. 

While it may initially seem easier to comfort eat and binge-watch your favorite television shows, these unhealthy coping mechanisms can quickly backfire.

Instead of succumbing to the urge to throw your health out the window, instead, try to make your health a priority when under stress.

Both your mind – and your body! – will thank you for it.

Fight the Urge to Stress Eat

It’s amazing how food has become so complicated over the years.

While it’s supposed to just help nourish you and keep you full, it’s somehow managed to turn into something more than that.

When stressed, it’s so easy to want to reach into a bag of chips or candy and zone out. It’s been shown that high-carb, high-fat foods release endorphins in the brain, causing you to feel calmer and happier.

This happiness is always short-lived, though.

Overdoing it on the wrong types of foods can lead to serious issues. You may wind up depriving your body of important vitamins and nutrients.

Your body will let you know, under no uncertain terms, that this behavior needs to come to a stop. Immediately. When you notice these signs to eat healthier, it’s important to act fast. 

Eating healthy has been shown to lead to better mental health. Better sleep. Overall, a better sense of happiness.

On the other hand, a poor diet can do a serious number on you, especially if you’re eating poorly in response to your stressors.

For instance, you may start to get acne breakouts. You’ll gain weight, particularly around your midsection. Your hair can start to fall out. These are all signs that your body needs you to eat healthier.

When you’re stressed, it’s more important than ever to treat your body right.

Sure, allow yourself a small treat here or there. But you should also reach for foods that will help nourish you when you need it most.

Foods high in Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce your stress levels. So have complex carbohydrates, like whole grains.

Instead of inhaling that bag of kettle chips or an entire bar of chocolate, enjoy some strawberries or oranges. Have a nice filet of salmon over a bed of sautéed greens.

If you don’t feel like cooking, even a couple of slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter can hit the spot. You’ll get the much-needed dopamine rush without the carb-crash later on.

That way, you’ll feel healthier and happier – and not bloated and icky – when you’re facing stressful obstacles in your life.

Burn Off Steam with a Good Workout

It’s so tempting to want to glue your behind to your favorite easy chair when you’re facing stress.

Ignore all responsibilities, turn on your favorite show, and just zone out until the stress finally passes.

Of course, just like overeating, turning into a lump on your sofa will feel good…at first. But after a while, you’ll start to feel sluggish, lethargic, and downright crummy.

If you’re also eating a poor diet, you’re going to get a double whammy of bad health decisions. Not only will you start to gain weight, but you’ll also feel much worse over time.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when stressed is to give yourself a chance to vent.

You can do it verbally, such as calling up a friend and airing your emotions out. Or you can offload them onto your spouse and let them be your emotional soundboard.

However, don’t underestimate the power of a good workout on your mood when you’re stressed out.

Studies have shown that enjoying a little bit of exercise is a great way to handle your stress.

What can you do to reduce those stress levels? 

Lace-up your shoes and take a jog around the block. Even a leisurely stroll can help.

Some soothing yoga can also help you feel calmer and more tranquil when you’re overloaded with stress.

You’ll get a huge rush of post-exercise endorphins. Even better, you’ll feel proud of yourself for finding a healthy way to manage your feelings.

In turn, you’ll feel happier and more confident.

Will taking your stress out on a punching bag at the gym make all of your stress go away completely? Maybe not, but it’ll help you feel a whole lot better about yourself afterward!

Treat Yourself with Compassion

If you’re stressed, it’s normal to want to avoid the things that are causing it.

But if you ignore the stressors, you’ll only give them more power over you. Instead, if you face them head-on, you can address them directly.

No matter what your approach to stress is, however, it’s vital that you treat yourself kindly when under stress. Don’t let the stressors lead you to believe that you’re a failure or doing something wrong.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. You may wonder why you’re dealing with all of these problems when everyone else seems to have it easy.

Please don’t let these social expectations drag you down. Focus on what’s going on in your life and try to find healthy ways to manage these stressors.

Above all, be gentle with yourself. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself when you’re doing the best you can already.

In addition to being compassionate to yourself, also gently nourish your body and your mind with a healthy diet. Incorporate some fun physical activities to help you deal with your stressful feelings.

When the stressors do eventually blow over, you’ll be able to emerge on the other side of it a stronger person. A happier person.

And, most importantly, you’ll have done something else, too. You’ll have taught yourself the essential skills to help you manage your stress in the future. 

In turn, you’ll have given yourself the opportunity to lead a healthy life – no matter what it throws at you!

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