As you leave summer behind and transition into re-establishing routines and coping with your “new normal”, managing stress will be more important than ever. Let’s take a look at four reliable strategies and some resources that can help.
- Recognize your stress signs. Pay attention to the early physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral signs of your stress response and be proactive. One of the most effective techniques to use is deep breathing. It slows the heart rate which alerts the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the body. Four square or box breathing is a simple technique that has us inhale, hold, and exhale for slow counts of four.
- Use visualization and mindfulness. Relaxation strategies like visualization and mindfulness are helpful as they relax our mind. Visualization uses mental imagery, such as envisioning being immersed in a dark, quiet forest or a sun-bathed beach with turquoise waters. Try to imagine how all of the senses would be activated by the experience. What would you see, smell, feel, and hear? Mindfulness works by bringing us to the present moment, focusing our attention and minds. Learn more about opportunities to practice and the benefits of mindfulness at UBC.
- Set personal boundaries. Boundaries are about expressing what your needs and limits are. Knowing where your comfort zone is and assertively communicating what you can and cannot do helps to maintain healthy and respectful relationships. Feeling frequently overwhelmed and resentful are often signals that it’s time to set some boundaries. Having someone in your life who has healthy boundaries to emulate can help, as can learning skills and strategies in counselling like the services offered through the UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).
- Move your body. The endorphin release and meditative focus of physical activity limits the stress response. To get the most out of physical activity, start gradually, do activities that you enjoy, have an “accountability buddy”, and set some goals. If you already prioritize physical activity, consider challenging yourself with something new or pay it forward by being that accountability buddy for someone else. Check out the Get Active At Home resources from UBC Recreation and the WorkLife services provided by the UBC EFAP.
You don’t always have control over your external stressors, but you can take action to protect health, wellbeing and relationships by making a commitment to recognize and manage your internal stress.
Stress Management & Resilience Building Resources for Staff and Faculty
- Interactive online program to help you assess, understand and manage stress
- Effective stress management tools with progress, mood and stress level tracking; goal setting and action tools; helpful resources; thoughtful journaling; and life support anytime via online chat
- Healthy UBC