If you have been dealing with high levels of stress, you are not alone. According to the Stress in America™ 2021 report, 75% of Americans reported high stress levels, and over 2 in three adults experienced increased stress since the start of the pandemic. 
While this stress-related mental health crisis continues to sweep across the nation, it has never been important to learn how to protect your mental wellbeing. Here are six strategies to keep stress at bay and use it as positive energy. 

Establish Boundaries and Take a Time Out

Stress is a natural and unavoidable part of life and, when properly managed, it can even act as a source of energy and a force for good. But as we all live increasingly hectic lifestyles, it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed and out of control. 
So, while there are many things that you can do to improve your mental health when you feel stressed or anxious, the most efficient strategy is to set boundaries. 
Taking a time out and saying “no” to activities that you no longer enjoy or cause you stress (including answering your work phone after hours) can help you be in better control of your daily routine and find more time for the things you love. 

Practice Meditation and Mind-Body Activities

Meditation has been used for millennia to achieve a focused, emotionally calm, and aware state of mind. Practicing techniques such as mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, sound baths, mind-body activities (like yoga), or body scans can help you create a safe space for your mind during stressful times. 
In particular, through meditation, you can better understand what your main triggers are, and, while you might not be able to control stress, mindfulness teaches you how to control how you react in stressful situations. 

Work With a Specialized Mental Health Professional

Sometimes, stress can be so severe as to inhibit your decision-making ability, compromise relationships, and lead to chronic anxiety and depression. If your feelings feel overwhelming or out of control, you should consider speaking to a mental healthcare professional and trying therapy. 
Choosing a tailored mental health treatment such as the one provided at Roots Through Recovery can help you tackle the underlying causes of stress and achieve faster and longer-lasting results. 
Pro Tip: beyond your therapy sessions, taking part in your local community and maintaining your social ties can help you find ongoing support. 

Regain Control Over Your Physical Health

The existing mastodonic research body has long proved the connection between body and mind - and, in turn, between physical and mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that poor mental health represents a risk factor for a wide range of physical conditions, including heart disease. 
On the other hand, those suffering from chronic physical conditions and other diseases are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders. 
So, when it comes down to fighting back stress and restoring your mental health, you might find powerful tools in keeping an active lifestyle and engaging in physical activity. 
Not a gym-goer? You can achieve similar results by choosing an activity that you truly enjoy, including walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, or practicing Tai Chi! 

Remember That You Are What You Eat

Your diet is directly linked to your mental well-being - and can play an important role in your ability to keep stress at bay. According to studies by Harvard Medical School, those following a traditional, well-balanced nutritional regime (such as the Mediterranean diet) are 25-35% less likely to suffer from depression compared to those following typical Western diets. 
Consider working with a specialized nutritionist to find a nutritional plan that meets your needs and goals, and focusing your diet around fresh, seasonal, minimally-processed, and whole foods.

Sleep, Rest, and Recovery Aren’t Luxuries – Don’t Let Them Be So

Sleep is an essential function of the body that can heavily impact your ability to deal with stress. When you are able to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, your body works to reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and rebalance the different systems. 
No matter how stressful your lifestyle might be, you’ll be able to cope better with it after a good night’s sleep!


Claire Ward