Maintaining Healthy Habits in Times of Stress

You’ve worked hard to change your habits and mindset in order to make strides towards feeling more in control of your condition. Yet life always seems to have a way of testing us. The stress starts to feel overwhelming and knocks you off course and healthy habits like exercise and nutrition start to suffer. We all experience stress and anxiety on occasion. But rather than adding more worry that you’re not succeeding, simply start with these steps to get back on track.

IBD and increased stress

You’re not alone. Studies show that people with a medical condition such as IBD are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of stress. And the problem is that stress typically makes matters worse. In conditions that are influenced by a nervous system response, such as pain or digestive disorders, stress can overwork the already compromised system. It can also increase the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Creating a never-ending cycle.

How to maintain healthy habits

When times get tough, it’s even more important to up your self-care strategies. One of the best ways to start is by changing your attitude. So take a breath, accept where you are (and who you are) today, and let’s go step by step to help you maintain healthy habits in times of stress.

Think big picture

It’s completely normal to have ups and downs on the road to success. And this goes for almost anything, including healthy habits. Rather than beating yourself up about a shift backward, assess your overall progress. In general, have you been feeling better, or maybe you’ve implemented some small habits such as drinking an extra glass of water? Congratulate yourself for the big picture progress you made rather than focusing on what you haven’t done.

Break it down

Goals and tasks can feel daunting, especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. But by simply breaking it down into smaller goals, you’ll be able to take actionable, less overwhelming steps. Start with an overall plan, even if it’s a vague idea. For instance, say you want to get back to healthy eating. Focus on the specific aspects then write out a concrete goal, such as eating one more serving of vegetables per day.

Pair it with pleasant

When you’re already feeling overwhelmed, adding another to-do can tip you over the edge, especially when it’s something you don’t want to do. Rather than “making” yourself do something, pair it with something you do like doing. That’s because we’re programmed to want a reward. Science suggests that our brains produce a chemical, called dopamine, which signals our motivation and desire for reward. So say for example you want to interact with the Nori Health program on a daily basis, “reward” yourself with a TV show, a nice cup of tea, or something else that motivates you, after your in-app conversation.

Let it go for a day

Some days are fine, some days are better, and some are downright a hot mess. It’s just part of life. If you’re having a tough one, try not to be so hard on yourself. Rather than beating yourself up about not meeting a certain goal, simply let it go and focus your energy on getting back at it tomorrow. It’s ok, and healthy, to give yourself a break.

Ask for support

It’s human nature to want to help one another out. In fact, evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing. So don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you get knocked off track. Support can come in many forms, from simply calling up a friend when you need to talk, to having a buddy to walk with.

Define your “why”?

Research suggests that our personal values guide our behavior and attitude. For instance, if it’s important for you to take care of your body, you may be more prone to pick up more fruits and vegetables at the store. Oftentimes we have a surface reason for doing something, but if you get clear on your deeper values, it can help steer you in the right direction especially when times get tough.

Nori Health: there for you

Nori Health™ is a 6-week digital therapy program guided by a chat coach. By completing the program, you’ll gain the strength to weather the storm of stressful times. In addition, you’ll increase energy and build a better quality of life with healthy habits such as optimizing diet, developing hydration routines, and integrating mood-boosting activities. You’ll learn how to better manage your stress and discover underlying triggers for a healthy work/life balance.

So, are you ready to build and maintain healthy habits to help your condition? Download Nori Health today.