Keys to Managing Stress


Person burying head behind a stack of books
Is it a coincidence that Stress Awareness Month falls at the same time that the school year is wrapping up? Maybe. Maybe not.
Stress management is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While a healthy level of stress motivates us to grow and change, prolonged or increased stress can cause long-term damage to our body and mind.
Taylor Tran, registered dietitian and employee health program manager at UT Dallas, offers the following tips to help manage stress:
Eat regularly | Eating consistent meals will help maintain your blood glucose levels and boost performance at work or school. Meal times also allow you to relax. Eating with others keeps you socially interactive.
Eat mindfully | Mindful eating – eating slowly and without the distractions of technology, work or reading material – gives you a break from stressors. Listen to hunger and fullness cues to prevent overeating, and avoid mindless snacking.
Choose healthy snacks | Many people turn to snacking as a way to manage stress. Keep healthy snacks on hand: protein bars, vegetables and hummus, yogurt and fruit, nuts, beef jerky and air-popped popcorn. Fruits with antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, and vegetables like carrots, broccoli and leafy greens provide needed vitamins and minerals.
Stay active | Stress can make you feel drained and tempt you to skip exercise. But exercise actually improves alertness and decreases fatigue. Regular physical activity as simple as taking a brisk walk, stretching or yoga can reduce blood pressure and promote sounder sleep.
Get adequate sleep | Many people consume caffeine to overcome a lack of sleep, but caffeine actually can increase anxiety and add to stress. Without adequate sleep, your body and mind won’t be able to heal and repair. Keep technology out of the bedroom; keep the room cold and dark; and avoid eating, studying or working in bed.
Nourish your spirit | Use deep breathing, meditation or quiet introspection to check in with yourself every day. Be creative. Laugh a lot. Plan times to relax with family and friends, and enjoy yourself.