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  • Writer's pictureTommy Cicero

Properly managing stress

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."

- Lou Holtz

According to the American Institute for Stress, 73% of people report stress impacting their mental health. Managing our responsibilities and commitments can become challenging when there are so many of them to address. It can become quite the balancing act between our personal and professional lives. In order to prevent ourselves from feeling constantly overwhelmed and avoid burnout, we can incorporate stress management tools that help us address the stress that can sometimes feel like a baked-in ingredient of life.

Having been diagnosed with general anxiety and incorporating everything from medication to talk therapy, one of the best tools I have found to manage stress and anxiety is regular exercise. It does not matter what type of exercise I do, as long as I work up a good sweat after 20-30 minutes on an almost daily basis. Since regular exercise helps support our physical AND mental health, it's one of those healthy habits that provides a variety of benefits. Exercise helps us release those "feel good" chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Besides helping us look better, exercise can help us feel much better and less stressed.

My other anti-stress weapon is my perspective. It has made a huge shift over the past 20 years. My outlook has helped me manage my emotions when feeling stressed, overwhelmed or at my wits end. I owe this to slowing down my thinking and delaying my response to my thoughts and feelings. I learned how to process what I am feeling and identify where it's coming from. This process allows me to respond to my feelings, both negative and positive, in a healthier way. The use of meditation and mindfulness techniques has helped me create a much brighter outlook and attitude toward life, with much less stress and anxiety.

Stress management does not have a one size fits all approach. Different strokes for different folks. The key is to incorporate something, anything, in order to help prevent and reduce the risk of burn out. Stress and anxiety are a part of life. The more learn how to manage it better, the less we allow it to become a bother to us. The only way it gets easier to manage is by recognizing and addressing it instead of ignoring or avoiding it, and allowing it to consume you even further.

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