5 Ways To Manage Stress Better in 2020

Health Conditions

5 Ways To Manage Stress Better in 2020

Chronic Conditions.Stress.Type II Diabetes
Lisa Fields
By Lisa Fields
Dec 27, 2019
A woman who is managing her stress by taking her dog for a walk and hugging him

If you’re hoping to lose weight or exercise more in 2020, you may want to pair your New Year’s resolution with another goal: Managing your stress levels. All of us have some stress in our lives – and some of it isn’t bad. But too much stress on a consistent basis may make it harder for you to make positive life changes.

Managing your stress levels may make it easier to eat healthily, because you may be less inclined to reach for junk food. Keeping your stress in check may also inspire you to exercise more… and one perk of regular physical activity is that it lowers stress levels, so it may be doubly effective.

Try adopting these ideas to reduce different stressors in your life:

Manage your overall health

Living with a chronic illness can be stressful, and often, it’s paired with depression or anxiety. But taking better control of your health may help you feel calmer and more confident about your condition. One way to do that is to take your medication as directed.

Some research has shown that when people are stressed and depressed, they’re less likely to take their medication for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. Other research found that people with type 2 diabetes who had several stressors in their lives were less likely to follow a healthy eating plan and take their medication as prescribed. Forgetfulness wasn’t the problem – people may have felt so overwhelmed by stress, they didn’t follow through on self-care.

Working to lower stressors in your life may help you take your medication more regularly. Talking to your health care provider about your mental health may help, since depression may play a role. It may also help if you spend time socializing with people you love, listening to music that you enjoy, watching movies that make you laugh or practicing meditation or yoga.

If you’re stressed about your health because you frequently forget to take your medicine, there are several ways to remember to take your pills, giving you one less thing to worry about. Keeping your medication in a sectioned pill organizer with different slots for the morning, afternoon and evening can help you realize whether or not you’ve taken your dosage yet.

Pairing medication with mealtime or bedtime makes it more likely that you’ll remember to take it if you always finish breakfast with a capsule and a glass of water or take medication as the last thing you do before you get into bed. Setting an alarm on your phone to alert you whenever you’re scheduled to take medication may help you ensure that you take your pills as prescribed, without the stress or anxiety of having to remember on your own.

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Focus on gratitude

Thinking about the things in your life that you’re thankful for may help you to lower your stress levels and improve your quality of life. Some people keep gratitude journals, writing down three things each night that they’re grateful for. Other people make an effort to thank people for favors and kind gestures, or they take the time to compliment people when it’s deserved. Others spend time noticing the beauty in nature and feeling appreciative of the world around them.

Focusing on gratitude in these or other ways should fill your mind with positive, optimistic thoughts, which may help to crowd out stressful feelings. Some research has shown that regularly practicing gratitude helps to lower perceived stress levels among people with chronic illness like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Try apps to reduce stress

Sometimes, you may need a little help to de-stress. A multitude of apps offer different techniques to help you lower your stress levels. Some apps offer meditation, including Headspace, where exercises can teach you to relieve stress, manage your anxiety levels and use techniques like breathing and mindfulness to focus on what’s meaningful to you, rather than dwelling on the negative.

You can track your feelings and mood throughout the day with the app MyMoodTracker, which may help you learn to recognize patterns in your emotions and realize which events trigger strong feelings and stressful reactions.

Another, app, Happify, offers science-based activities to help you let go of stressful thoughts. You’ll learn how to focus on more positive thought patterns and how to adopt habits that should help you react differently to stress.

Put down your phone before bed

Spending too much time on stress-reducing apps may backfire, especially if you stare at your brightly lit screen late into the evening. The blue light that emanates from smartphones, tablets and laptops mimics daylight, which may make it harder for you to fall asleep at night, potentially adding another stressor to your day. And the activities that many people do on their phones – playing games, scrolling through social media – are too stimulating to be a wind-down activity before bedtime.

Experts recommend that you stop looking at your phone an hour before bedtime. To pass the time until bed, consider stress-reducing activities like taking a hot shower, reading an actual book with paper pages (not an eBook on a device) or listen to calming music. If you’re planning to use a meditation app at bedtime, adjust your smartphone settings to reduce its blue-light output in the evening, and put the device out of sight once you turn the right program on.

Get enough sleep

Adults aged 18 to 64 should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and adults 65 and older should aim for 7 to 8 hours nightly, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Unfortunately, one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep.

When you’re sleep-deprived, your stress levels rise. Chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to a number of health problems, including hypertension, obesity, depression and anxiety. It may also negatively impact your mood, making you feel cranky, angry and more stressed.

If you prioritize sleep to ensure that you’re in bed for at least 7 hours per night, you’ll be less likely to experience stressors which may hold you back from living your best life.

Lisa Fields

Lisa Fields

Lisa Fields is a freelance writer who specializes in health, psychology, and wellness. A regular contributor to the RxSaver blog, she has also written for Reader’s Digest, WebMD, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Next Avenue and many other publications.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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