10 Simple Ways to Leave Stress Behind
Top 10 Tips to Relieve Stress
We’re hard-wired to respond to stress. Our bodies’ “fight-or-flight” response system is designed to kick in when we’re faced with a threat. However, modern man encounters a constant barrage of stressors that the body misinterprets as threatening, which can keep you on edge unnecessarily.
These ten tips will help you soothe your nerves and put your mind at ease.
The hard reality is that stress will always exist. The good news? You can pinpoint your triggers to help eliminate the unhealthy side effects of stress. Before you can leap ahead to stress-reduction, it’s important to identify the sources of your stress. Examine the different areas of your life: work, finances, relationships, your daily commute. Can you reduce the stress in your life in any of these areas? While jobs, family, and finances will continue to play integral roles in your life, you can change the way you cope with each.
Sweat it Out
If you need more reasons to schedule exercise into your calendar, evidence supports the benefits of physical activity for managing stress. In addition to helping your heart, regular exercise can boost your mood, manage your weight, and ensure a healthy night’s sleep. For adults, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of vigorous activity every week and muscle-toning exercises at least two days a week. If this sounds like a lot, break up it up into effective, yet manageable workout sessions.
Some studies show that you may feel better following a good cry. The release of pent-up stress is like washing your emotional palette clean: endorphins (feel-good hormones) rush out, lifting tension. A study from the University of South Florida found that crying in front of a friend increased participants’ feeling supported and better overall. Also, understanding that a problem could be solved played a major part in how good people felt after producing tears. So, go on: let it all out.
Learn to Be Imperfect
While it’s healthy to have goals, putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish unrealistic expectations can have a negative effect on your health. First, you have to accept that there is no such thing as perfection. Then, you need to let go of your need to achieve it. Embrace your flaws, and learn from your mistakes. Your mind—and your heart—will thank you.
Schedule “Me” Time
Bills to pay. Laundry towering in the hamper. Groceries to buy. Sure, these things need to get done, but you won’t have the energy or enthusiasm to check any of these chores off your to-do list without penciling in some private time. Whether it’s five minutes of meditation to close your day, a half-hour bath, or a walk, make time for you—and only you.
Do One Healthy Thing Each Day
Take the stairs at the train station. Swap the candy bar for a piece of fruit. Trade in your morning cup of highly caffeinated coffee for (antioxidant-rich) green tea. Drive in the slow lane on your commute home from work. Amidst a cluttered calendar, find the time to insert healthy steps towards reducing stress. You might just find that each healthy choice keeps you motivated to make more healthy decisions.
Things happen, but you can reduce or eliminate stress by being prepared for inevitable or unpleasant events. Make copies of your house, apartment, or car keys to give to a family member or close friend. Keeping an easily accessible spare will leave you less stressed if you happen to lose a set. For those times when the unavoidable strikes, count to ten before speaking, take three deep breaths, or go for a walk to clear your mind.
Write it Down
Accumulating evidence suggests that journaling can help you sort through a gamut of emotions such as sadness, loss, and anger. Studies led by James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. of the University of Texas at Austin show that when people write about meaningful or traumatic events, their health and other biological markers for stress improve.
Water, that is. Hydration is important for staying healthy and combating fatigue. After all, how much can you accomplish if you’re feeling lethargic and cranky? Stress management relies, in part, on staying hydrated. When you don’t drink enough water, you might look to sweets to satisfy a sugar craving. To keep your body healthy, your mind sharp, and stress at bay, don’t wait until your mouth is parched. Drink water throughout the day and with meals. A general rule to remember is 8x8: aim for eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
It might feel natural and downright nice to say “yes” to every project, proposal, and task that comes your way. However, recognizing—and sticking to—your limits will keep you in control of your time and your health. Piling too much on your plate can lead to a major meltdown. Instead, accept what you are willing to handle and politely say “no” to the rest. Use some of that downtime to recharge your batteries.
Some other tips to cope with unavoidable stress include:
- laughing a little every day
- cutting out stimulants (like caffeine and sugar)
- relaxation and meditation
- talking to a friend or counselor