‘Tis the season. Open enrollment season, that is. And with open enrollment comes stress. Lots of it. We know what you’re going through and we completely empathize.
Because we’ve just been through our own open enrollment stress — making sure all open enrollment communications are written, designed and printed, correctly, on budget and on time — we have a few tips that may help you get through the season, too.
Stress occurs when the demands placed on you exceed your ability to cope. Some stress can be beneficial, giving you the drive and energy to meet your deadlines. But too much stress can have serious health consequences, affecting the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems. It can take a severe emotional toll on you as well.
Left untreated, stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain and high blood pressure. Research shows that stress can even contribute to major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
Key to reversing these negative effects of stress is finding healthy ways to manage it. Here are five healthy techniques that psychological research has shown to reduce stress.
Take a break from the stressor. It may seem difficult to get away during open enrollment, but that just may be the best thing for you. When you give yourself permission to step away, you give yourself time to breathe, time to practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. Twenty minutes away lets you take care of yourself.
Exercise. There’s no doubt about it. Research continues to show that exercise benefits your mind just as much as your body. Even a brisk 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session when you’re stressed can give an immediate effect that lasts for several hours.
Smile and laugh. Your brain is connected with your facial expressions and emotions. When you’re stressed, your face shows it. Smiling and laughing can help relieve some tension and make you feel better. Fast!
Get social support. It may sound obvious, but when you’re stressed call a friend, send a text message or write a letter. Express yourself in a healthy way. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it helps relieve stress.
Meditate. Meditation and mindfulness help the mind and body to relax and focus. Like exercise, you can reap immediate benefits when you meditate. And mindfulness can help you get a new perspective and develop self-compassion. When practicing mindfulness, you release emotions that may cause the body physical stress.
So don’t let stress get the better of you. Try these tips instead and “breeze” through open enrollment.