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Stress management: Navigating changes to your schedule

Mental Health | June 2, 2021
Young boy watches his mom write on a calendar
If work or school changes are causing you stress, here are some resources to help you manage your sense of well-being.

Are you expecting to change when or how you work? Will your kids be home for summer break?

Many of us are creatures of habit and we find comfort in routines, so anything that upsets our rhythm can be stressful—especially in light of the pandemic.

Be sure to give yourself—and your family—time to mentally process your feelings about the changes.

Why stress management is important

Managing your stress is just as important as eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising daily.

Prolonged stress can have negative effects on the body—physically and mentally. Stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol and adrenalin, and increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can contribute to greater risks for heart disease and complications for other conditions, such as diabetes.

Untreated chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy coping habits, including physical inactivity, overworking, over-eating, and using tobacco, alcohol or other substances.

Take note of your feelings. Jot down thoughts about the upcoming changes to your day-to-day activities.

  • What are you looking forward to?
  • What worries you?

Understanding the issues that cause you stress can help you feel more in control and less at the mercy of vague emotions.

Consider your physical needs

In addition to your emotional health, think about what you need physically to get used to your new situation.

Do you need to add more grab-and-go snacks or healthy lunch options to your grocery list? What about doing the laundry or refueling the car? Earlier bedtimes? New morning routines?

Considering these questions ahead of time also helps you think through who’s responsible for each of these areas. It also gives your household members a chance to understand any new expectations.

Resist the temptation to simply run on “auto-pilot”—or just powering through your day without pausing to reflect or check how you’re feeling.

Take small actions through the day to check in. Spend 10 minutes every few hours to stretch, walk or practice a breath meditation. These can work wonders for your physical and mental well-being.

Managing your stress helps others

And whether many of us realize it or not, we take cues from those nearby in how to react to situations—positively or negatively.

Managing your stress can help others close to you—kids, partner, friends—manage theirs. Read more tips on helping your children or teens manage their stress.

Finally, remember, it's OK to ask for help. Talk to your primary care provider if you need support with your ongoing stress management.

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