Here at Firefly, through our care-centered health plan model, we aim to support our members (and anyone else who needs it) with resources to live their best life, physically AND emotionally. Take a moment to share this with your friends, family, and coworkers, in recognition of #StressAwarenessMonth (April), and all year round! Here are some useful tips to alleviate stress in your life, curated by the thoughtful experts on our clinical team.
Writing about your emotions can ease stress
Many coping strategies can involve using words. Writing things out or reading can help to calm yourself. Here are some everyday tips to incorporate word visualization to ease stress:
- If your to-dos are stacking up, make a list and prioritize it to guide your day
- Write things in a calendar or planner to help organize and map out events and tasks
- Write down your feelings/thoughts around a stressful situation in a journal
- Get comfy and take your mind off of difficult situations by diving into a good book
- If you’re having trouble sleeping, try writing down any cycling thoughts to get them out of your head
- If you’re stressing about things that already happened or that haven’t happened yet, try reading some inspiring quotes, poems, or mindfulness verses to bring you back to the present moment. For example, here is a helpful walking meditation by Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:
The mind can go in a thousand directions,
but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
3 evidence-based strategies to complete the stress cycle
Stress can be a motivator, and it can even be essential to survival. The body’s fight-or-flight mechanism tells a person when and how to respond to danger. However, when the body becomes triggered too easily, or there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.
Below are evidence-based strategies that can complete the stress cycle, which informs our bodies that we are safe and no longer in danger.
- Just breathe: Deep, slow breaths down-regulate the stress response, especially when the exhalation is long and slow and goes all the way to the end of the breath so your belly contracts. Breathing is most effective when your stress is not too high or you want to siphon off the worst of the stress to help get through a difficult situation. Try one of these breathing exercises to help give your mind a break and calm your stress.
- Be social: Casual but friendly social interactions can be an external sign that the world is safe. Grab a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, drop some pleasantries, complement the barista’s hairstyle or the earrings of the customer behind you. It can seem like these small niceties are inconsequential, but they can reassure your brain that the world is a safe, sane place.
- Laugh it up: Laughter is a natural medicine that can help you combat stress. Genuine laughter can reduce cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone that circulates throughout the body when you’re feeling anxious. It can also increase endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel-good” chemicals that help to boost happiness levels.
To learn more about completing the stress cycle check out Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking The Stress Cycle.
Foods to eat for stress relief
Cortisol, the hormone that is released when you are stressed, is useful for a short period of time, but can cause inflammation if it sticks around for too long. It’s important to eat foods that have anti-inflammatory effects during stressful times (along with practicing stress management techniques). Check out these stress reducing foods and ones to avoid:
- Fortified cereal
- Seafood and poultry
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fortified dairy products
- Fatty fish
- Greek yogurt
- Other herbal teas
- Added sugar
- Refined grains
- Fried food
How to improve your work-life balance
Work-life balance is the (sometimes elusive) state of stability between the needs of one’s career and one’s personal life. A good work-life balance has numerous positive health effects, including less stress and a greater sense of overall well-being. Here are some easy ways you can try to incorporate more balance into your work and personal life:
- Make a conscious effort to eat well by choosing healthy snacks and meals. Here are 12 great seasonal healthy meals we’ve put together that are fairly easy to make at home!
- Take breaks throughout the day to enjoy listening to music, take a short walk, connect with nature, or lay down for a few minutes.
- Take a quick shower to re-energize yourself or a long bath for relaxation.
- Make your environment comfortable and inviting… Light up a scented candle, use essential oils, or open a window to let the natural air and healing sunlight in.
- Connect with supportive people by calling a loving friend or family member.
- Spend quality bonding time with those you live with (including pets!).
- Create artwork or build/craft something (legos, puzzles, etc).
- Engage in positive conversation with yourself and include gratitude affirmations.
- Get rid of or limit things that cause you stress (watching the news, social media, etc).
- Establish a bedtime routine (turn down the lights, shower, read a book)
Firefly is here to help
Interested in hearing more about how the Firefly care + coverage health plan can help you support your employees health and wellbeing? Click below to learn more and contact us today!