A little stress can be good for us, but too much stress, or chronic stress, can lead to health issues like anxiety, high blood pressure and even a weakened immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Allison Chase is a practicing psychologist with over 20 years of experience in her profession. And just like you, she experiences stress, too.

“Sometimes it’s hard being a mental health professional [because of] this idea that somehow you’re going to have the magic or things aren’t going to affect you the same way,” says Chase, who is a senior clinical advisor for Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center.

“I, too, am a very real human being. The good news is I am able to tune into what is happening and hopefully how to deal with it, but I am definitely impacted by stress, anxiety, all those things just like everybody else is.”

Chase pulls the tools from her decades-old vault of expertise to prevent her stress from consuming her. Here are some ways she manages her stress levels and how you can, too.

To keep overwhelming feelings at bay, Chase is mindful of her breathing.

“I really do work on trying to calm my body down because stress has physical effects on our body, everywhere. It impacts us,” she says.

“And so one of the first things I try to do is tune into how my body is reacting. By using breathing to slow down, it makes a huge difference in how I’m able to approach whatever it is that’s going on.”

Chase often reminds herself that “none of us are superheroes” and everyone can only do what we can handle.

“It’s really important to recognize that, and at times have some grace for what you can get done or what you can manage and what you can’t,” she notes.

When Chase is dealing with a lot of stress, she asks for help and leans on the people that she can count on. It “makes all the difference” to have a support system with people who you can be open and vulnerable with, she says.

Between her daily responsibilities of meeting with patients, conducting clinical consultations with graduate students and walking her dog, Chase can have really long days. “So my sleep is really important,” she says.

Ending her day early, around 9:30 p.m., sets her up for productivity the following day.

She starts winding down around 6 p.m. by prepping and cooking dinner with her husband. The couple makes sure to use dinnertime for catching up, and Chase enjoys watching “mindless, distracting TV” for an hour but lowers her screen time on her phone before bed.

In addition to regular exercise or movement, Chase aims to do at least one thing each day that she enjoys. It doesn’t have to be grand as long as it brings her joy, she says.

“Even if it’s making a phone call to an old friend or sitting down and doing something that makes you happy like getting a chance to read a blog article or listen to an audio book, take a walk, any of those kinds of things,” Chase says.

She prioritizes making time for social connection that is meaningful with people “that allow me to feel like I can truly be myself.”

“When I find that I tend to be a little bit more irritable and not as calm in my approach to things, it’s usually an indication that [I] need to take some time,” Chase says.

In those moments when she’s really feeling exhausted and worn down, she takes breaks and utilizes her vacation time.

A major way that Chase manages her own stress is by setting clear boundaries in all aspects of her life. Asserting yourself, for her, means “having your own boundaries, [knowing] what’s going to work for you and what’s not going to work for you and not being fearful to set those and be clear about them.”

She finds boundary-setting challenging when she wants to be supportive and available for the people in her life, but she knows how important it is to take care of herself in order to properly show up for herself and others.

Chase’s job as a psychologist helps her to figure out her approach to stressful situations, especially when she needs to set boundaries. “That’s one of the things that I’m thankful that I’m able to do.”

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