Stop the Stress Cycle

by: UnitedHealthCare

Could you be adding to your own stress — without even knowing it? It’s easy to do. The good news is there are simple ways to stop the cycle.

Check out these five possible sources of stress. See what speaks to you — and try these quick tips. Focus on a few small changes at a time. With practice, you may be surprised by how much better you feel.

1. You get caught up in negative thoughts
You find yourself thinking about all that is — or could go — wrong. Or your inner voice tends to be unkind and critical.
Tips to try:

  • Catch yourself. Just being aware that you’ve hopped on a gloomy train of thought can help you put on the brakes.
  • Practice rethinking negative self-talk.
  • Focus on what’s in your control. Is there something you can do about the situation? If not, urge yourself to let it go.


2. You try to tackle too much
You feel overwhelmed — even on your days off. So you don’t take time to relax, recharge or have fun.
Tips to try:

  • Take a close look at your to-dos. Pick a few key items — and work off a shorter, more doable list.
  • Delegate tasks, such as household chores, when possible. Think of asking for help as a strength, not a weakness.
  • Break large projects into smaller tasks.
  • Remember to give yourself credit for all you get done.
  • Schedule free time and breaks, even if it’s just a few minutes.


3. You skip exercise
You’re busy or tired — so fitness gets pushed aside. But being active is one of the best ways to reduce stress.*
Tips to try:

  • Start small: Fit one or two 10-minute walks into your workday. It can do wonders to clear your head.
  • Focus on finding activities you enjoy.
  • Plan active outings with friends and family.
  • Pick specific time slots — and treat workouts as unbreakable appointments. For example, exercise first thing in the morning. You’ll get it done before you can talk yourself out of it.


4. You miss out on the moment
You’re rarely fully present. You might be mindlessly checking your phone. Or your mind is racing with thoughts of the past or future.
Tips to try:

  • Work on being more mindful during everyday tasks, such as driving or showering. When your mind drifts, practice coming back to the present moment and soaking it in.
  • Notice — and be grateful for — the little things. A plum’s purple glow. The taste of a cup of tea. A friend’s warm smile.
  • Put distractions aside — especially when you want to enjoy someone’s company, savor a meal or simply relax.


5. You expect perfection
You don’t give yourself a break — and you may have unrealistic expectations of others too.
Tips to try:

  • Remind yourself that life is imperfect. Not everything will go as planned or be done flawlessly.
  • Think of mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do better next time.
  • Amuse yourself. See if you can find humor in not-so-perfect situations.

LightbulbWhat to do next
Take a deep breath — and blow away stress in a few short minutes. Try this step-by-step breathing exercise.

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