After the easygoing days of summer, autumn’s arrival can feel like an abrupt return to reality, ramping up stress. But getting back into the school-year groove and facing the upcoming holiday season don’t have to wreak havoc on your nerves. Here are seven tips to help you start the fall season right:
- Hit pause. It’s tempting to cram the last few days of summer with everything you meant to do before the school bus started running again. But all that activity can wear you (and your children) out. Plan a few quiet days so you and your family can ease back into the fall routine feeling calm and rested.
- Just say “no.” Taking on too many commitments is a sure-fire way to feel overwhelmed. Before agreeing to volunteer for a committee or host a neighborhood picnic, think about what’s really important to you. By declining activities you don’t really want or need to do, you’ll have more time for the people and plans that are important to you.
- Spot stressors. Be realistic when making plans. Some activities sound fun at first glance but turn out to be stressors in disguise. An expensive vacation isn’t worth it if you come home panicking about your finances.
- Move together. Exercise is a proven stress buster, but sometimes it’s tough to squeeze a workout into a jam-packed schedule. Build family fitness into your routine. Try going for regular family walks after dinner, take weekend bike rides or head out on family hikes.
- Focus on the positive. At the end of a busy day, don’t beat yourself up about all the things you didn’t get done (or didn’t do as well as you’d hoped). Instead, reflect on all the things you accomplished and are grateful for.
- Unplug. When you’re texting, e-mailing, using social media, or answering calls, you’re reacting to others’ needs instead of focusing on your own. Schedule some regular tech-free times to turn off your phone and step away from the computer.
- Look out for yourself. Tune into signs that you’re not coping well. Are you drinking too much alcohol? Sleeping too much or too little, or feeling constantly drained? Snapping at friends and family? If so, you might need help keeping your stress in check.
To find a healthcare provider who can help you manage your stress, visit the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA or call UCLA Health’s Physician Referral Service at 1-800-825-2631.
You can also learn more about using mindfulness and meditation to beat stress by checking out the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
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