Stress is something that every single person deals with at some point or another in their life. There is no getting around stress, which can spike under certain circumstances, such as new parenthood, loss of a job, a big move, divorce or death in the family.
Whatever might be causing your stress, it pays to have tools for dealing with it so that you can reduce stress. In fact, this might be one of the most important things you do, since prolonged stress can be detrimental to your health.
If you don’t even know where to start, consider trying one or all of these tips to help you cut back and live a lower stress lifestyle, which will be beneficial to many areas of your life.
1. Keep A Journal
For many people, simply writing down what is causing their stress can ease the load a little bit. It’s sort of like unloading without actually having to have someone willing to listen. When you write down what is stressing you out, it helps you clear your mind and can even lead to a solution to the problem.
Many people find that keeping a stress journal allows them to sleep better and gives them an outlet for times when stress threatens to get the better of them. Consider carrying a small notebook with you and spending a few minutes each day “venting” so that you can spend the rest of your time focusing on the things that really matter.
2. Learn How To Breathe
Sometimes all it takes to cut down on stress is to take a couple of deep breaths. This is an especially helpful tactic in the heat of the moment such as when your teen is talking back, your boss just dumped more work on your desk than you can get to before quitting time, or your spouse forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner.
Many studies have proven the positive impact of deep breathing to reduce stress, so it pays to give it a try. You might feel silly at first, but keep practicing the art form of breathing in and out, and you’ll be happy to see how it can help you learn to live through stressful situations.
3. Go Outside
Being in nature is a scientifically proven way to ease stress. There is something about being surrounded by plants and animals that just makes you feel more peaceful and relaxed. When stress is threatening to get the best of you, take a break outside.
Simply sitting on a bench in the park or on your back deck can be a significant way to help you lose the stress or at least take a break from it for a while. Other outdoor activities that can help you ease your stress include a hike, a bike ride or a swim at the local outdoor pool. The combination of physical movement and exposure to flora and fauna should have you feeling better in no time.
4. Have A Good Laugh
There is something about laughing that makes anyone feel better. Experts say that finding a reason to laugh can instantly ease stress and make you forget about what’s causing your woes for a little while.
Call a friend who makes you smile, or rent a couple of comedies and settle in for a laugh fest. The more you laugh, the better you’ll feel. Laughing releases feel-good hormones that can counteract the ones that rear their ugly heads when you get stressed out. If all else fails, just search out funny videos online, or carry a joke book you can pull out when you need it.
5. Take A Walk
This goes hand and hand with getting outside. However, walking specifically has positive effects on stress levels. Many people find that when they walk, they can let their minds wander, which gives you the opportunity to forget what’s causing your stress and even come to a conclusion about how you can solve issues that are causing your stress.
Combined with being in nature and getting some fresh air and exercise, you can rely on a good walk to help ease stress anytime. The great thing is that you can walk just about anywhere, from your neighborhood to the area around your office. It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re walking.
6. Call It A Day And Go To Bed
When a tough day isn’t getting any better, sometimes it’s better to just end the day and start fresh in the morning. In fact, lack of sleep could be increasing or causing your stress. Most experts agree that people need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to regulate hormone production and keep your mood on an even keel.
Continued lack of sleep could be exacerbating even the smallest issue and ratcheting up your stress levels. Sometimes, adjusting your sleep schedule and spending more time in bed can help you ease stress and handle stressful situations better. Try pushing your bedtime back about 15 minutes per night for a week or so, and you might find that you feel better in no time.
No one can entirely escape stress, and it will be part of your life from time to time. However, learning to handle it is important for your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause muscle tension, headache, fatigue, stomach pain, lowered libido and sleep disturbances.
It can also lead to anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, anger, sadness and depression. People who are stressed might also eat too much or too little, abuse drugs or alcohol, skip their workout and withdraw from their social circles. These issues can be detrimental to your life and can interfere with good overall health.
Other ways to handle stress involve lifestyle changes that are fairly easy to make. Experts suggest incorporating plenty of physical activity into your days. The experts suggest getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, which helps regulate mood and eases stress.
You should also make healthy eating choices because your body needs certain nutrients to help you deal with stress. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, fat and salt in favor of a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods.
Consider choosing organic and hormone-free foods whenever possible, and make sure you eat balanced meals and snacks every few hours to keep your energy levels up. Hunger or thirst is a driving force of stress in certain situations, so battling it before it begins is a choice you’ll never regret making.
If these changes and tips don’t positively impact your stress levels, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor or mental health provider. Sometimes therapy can help you learn stress management and coping techniques you can employ in a guided setting that you can benefit from, no matter what’s causing your stress. With practice, you’ll be feeling less stressed in a short amount of time.