If you’re dealing with a high level of stress, you’re putting your whole well-being at risk. Stress affects your mental equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It reduces the ability to think clearly, to work efficiently, and to enjoy life. It could seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress. Bills will never stop arriving; there will never be more hours a day, and work and family responsibilities will always be challenging. But you’ve to practice stress management.
Efficient stress management helps you break the stress in your life so that you can be happy, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a healthy life, with time for jobs, friends, relaxation, fun, and resilience to hang on to pressure and face obstacles head-on. However, stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment to figure out what’s right for you. The following 10 tips on stress management will help you with that.
1. Identify the sources of your stress
Stress management is beginning to recognize the causes of stress in your life. This isn’t as simple as it seems. While it’s easy to recognize major stressors, such as changing jobs, travelling, or going through a divorce, finding the causes of chronic stress can be more difficult. It’s all too easy to ignore how your own emotions, feelings, and behaviours relate to your daily stress levels.
To recognize the real causes of stress, take a close look at your habits, behaviour, and excuses:
Until you take full responsibility for your role in developing or managing it, your stress level will stay beyond your control.
2. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
Avoid or at least limit your nicotine intake and any beverages containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which can increase the stress level rather than decrease it.
Alcohol is a depressant when consumed in large amounts but acts as a stimulant in smaller amounts. Therefore, the use of alcohol as a means of alleviating stress is ultimately not helpful.
Swap coffee and alcoholic beverages for water, herbal teas, or diluted raw fruit juices. And aim to keep yourself hydrated since this would make it easier for your body to deal with stress.
You can also avoid or limit refined sugar consumption – they are in many manufactured foods (even in savory foods such as salad dressings and bread). They may cause energy crashes, which can lead you to feel tired and anxious. In general, try a healthy, well-balanced, and nutritious diet.
3. Talk to someone
When you get stressed out, take a break and contact a friend to talk about your issues. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are vital to a healthier lifestyle. They’re crucial when you’re under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, will bring things into perspective.
4. Keep a stress diary
Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management technique that can help you become more aware of the situations that make you stressed.
Note the date, time, and location of each stressful episode, and note what you did. Give a stress ranking (on, say, a scale of 1-10) for each stressful episode and use the diary to understand what triggers stress and how productive you are in stressful situations. This will help you to avoid stressful situations and to learn better-coping strategies.
5. Eat right
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely associated. If we’re overwhelmed, we sometimes forget to eat properly and use sugary, fatty snack items as a pick-up.
Try avoiding sugary snacks. Fruits and vegetables are often healthy, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce stress symptoms. A tuna sandwich is just a brain snack.
6. Listen to music
If you feel stressed by a difficult situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing songs. Playing soothing music impacts the brain and body, reduces blood pressure, and lowers cortisol, a stress-related hormone.
We suggest the violin master Yo-Yo Ma play Bach, but if the classic isn’t your thing, try listening to the sounds of the ocean or nature. It may sound cheesy, but it has similar relaxing effects to music.
7. Be mindful
Most of the tips we’ve recommended offer instant relief, but there are still a variety of lifestyle changes that can be more beneficial in the long term. The concept of “mindfulness” is a major part of the meditative and somatic approach to mental health and has recently become popular.
From yoga and tai chi to meditation and Pilates, these mindfulness systems incorporate physical and mental activities that prevent stress from being a problem. Try to join a stress management class.
8. Indulge in Physical Activity
Exercise does not necessarily mean lifting power in a gym or training for a marathon. A short walk across the workplace or just standing up to rest during a break will bring instant relaxation in a stressful situation.
Getting your blood moving releases endorphins that will improve your mood almost instantly.
9. Get more sleep
Everyone understands the stress will cause you to lose your sleep. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep is also a major source of stress. This vicious spiral causes the brain and the body to get out of the way and worsens over time.
Make sure you have the doctor-recommended for seven or eight hours of sleep. Switch off the TV earlier, dim the lights, and give yourself time to rest before you go to bed. It may be the most successful stress management buster on our list.
10. Breathe easy
The “take a deep breath” suggestion may sound like a cliché, but it’s true when it comes to stress. Buddhist monks have been aware of the deliberate breathing of meditation for decades.
Sit in your chair with your feet down on the floor and your hands on the top of your knees for an easy three-to-five-minute workout. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, focusing on your lungs as they extend completely into your chest.
While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates the blood. It helps to centre your body, clearing your mind.
The Bottom Line
Some studies may be needed to find the best stress management techniques. Some methods can also be practical.
But it’s important to keep searching for tools to help you handle life’s inevitable ups and downs safely. Keeping stress at a manageable level is important to your overall health.