Stress is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it go unchecked. Stress can impact us at work, around the holidays, and in specific situations. And that’s not to mention how stress has become nearly unmanageable with the many changes that have affected nearly every aspect of life in response to coronavirus. Now more than ever, the lives of many South Marylanders have become increasingly stressful.

Whether you are overwhelmed trying to balance the demands of work and kids that are now at home full time, or are anxious about the stability of your day-to-day life, you need to find ways to effectively manage your stress. While it might seem normal to deal with stress on a daily basis, it’s important to also find ways to deal with these feelings because experiencing high levels of stress can have a major impact on our overall well-being. To help you lead a happier, healthier lifestyle, here are a few things you can try to better control how stress impacts your daily life:

#1: Identify Your Stressors

One of the best things you can do to help you gain more control over your stress levels is to identify the most common stressors in your life. This may be certain people in your life (like your mother-in-law) or specific situations (important work meetings or exams). For others, habits like procrastination or constant social media usage may be a big contributor to high stress levels.

Once you identify your key stressors, you can find ways to avoid them or limit your exposure to some of these factors, like spending less time with certain people or adjusting your habits.

#2: Find Coping Mechanisms

To deal with stress throughout the day, you can try coping mechanisms such as:

• Breathing techniques (try using a mindfulness meditation app if you need help)
• CBD (make sure you use the best CBD vape pens for the quickest relief)
• Stress balls (keep one on your desk or in your bag for easy access)
• Journaling (write down your daily reflections to de-stress before bed)

#3: Change Your Diet

As surprising as it might seem, there are certain substances that can trigger stress and anxiety. If you feel like stress is significantly impacting your life, you may want to try removing certain things from your diet. For starters, caffeine and alcohol should be mostly or completely cut out.

That said, processed meats and foods with high sugar contents that might play a bigger role in your daily nutrition could also play a role in your stress levels, so you may need to make major changes to how and what you eat.

#4: Make More Time for Self-Care

Neglecting your own needs can lead to a buildup of stress that comes rushing out at inopportune moments like before a big deadline at work, getting ready to go out with friends, or at a tense family dinner. That’s why it’s important to make time for self-care in your regular routine. Start by dedicating 30 minutes to an hour of your day to doing something relaxing that you enjoy. This could be:

• Coloring
• Reading
• Listening to music
• Meditation

#5: Prioritize Sleep

With all the other priorities demanding your time and attention, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent sleep schedule—especially when stress keeps your brain reeling late into the night. However, making it a top priority to get sufficient sleep (the National Sleep Foundation recommended 7 to 9 hours), is essential to your overall health and reducing stress.

If you struggle to get in bed on time, make a plan for yourself to be in bed by a certain time and stop snoozing your alarm. If your stress is what’s keeping you up at night, try melatonin to help your brain wind down for bed or use a sleep meditation app to lull you into slumber.

#6: Get Professional Help

There is no shame in getting professional help to manage your stress. This could be as simple as online talk therapy once a week, or even just when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. However, if you deal with chronic stress, or feel anxious nearly all the time, you may need to work with a doctor to find ways to effectively manage your stress.

Don’t let stress control your life; these and other stress-management techniques, such as exercise or getting regular massages, can help you improve your mental state and overall well-being.