Stress is a fact of life, but being stressed out shouldn’t be. If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. In addition, it has damaging effects on both your mental and physical health. Effective stress management, on the other hand, helps you break the hold stress has on your life so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a life of balance with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun. Don’t wait until stress damages your health, relationships, or quality of life. Start practicing one or all of these stress management techniques today.
Sometimes, you just need time to cool off. Set a timer or look at the clock and allow yourself to simply take a five-minute break. This is one of the best stress management techniques I’ve used. It can seem counter-intuitive at first—why take five minutes to sit and chill out, when you could be getting something done? But in truth, taking those five minutes to calm down and regroup can help you clear your head, get your emotions in check, and be ready to tackle issues with a better frame of mind.
I know that may sound a little too simple, but deep breathing will help you relax, slow your heart rate, and allow you to focus on the tasks at hand. Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly. Shallow chest breathing, by contrast, can cause your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up, exacerbating feelings of stress. To breathe deeply, inhale slowly through your nose. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.
Exercise is one of the best mood regulators. It can help beat feelings of depression and anxiety. By releasing endorphins to help you feel calmer and happier. You don’t need to go to the gym for a full workout to get the stress reduction benefits of exercise. Simply take a short walk, outside if possible. With just a 20-minute break you’ll return with a clear head – ready to focus again. Walking forces you to breathe more deeply and improves circulation.
Have a Snack
Foods that are high in carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical that helps induce calm. Crackers, pretzels, or a bagel should do the trick. Be careful not to eat too many carbs, though. They can also increase your appetite and your blood sugar.
Work on a Hobby
Having a hobby that you do regularly will help keep your stress levels low so that little things don’t end up raising them too high. There are lots of options for your hobby.
- Try needle work – knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, needlepoint – these are all good options and you end up with something you can use in your home or give as a gift.
- Gardening is a great stress reliever. Getting out in the fresh air is great for you and there are even antidepresent microbes in the soil to help with your stress relief. Just playing in the dirt without gloves on will give the stress reducing effect of these microbes.
- Practicing yoga on a regular basis can keep stress at bay.
As long as your hobby is something you enjoy doing it will help with your overall stress levels.
Call a Friend
Sharing your troubles can give you perspective, help you feel cared for and relieve your burden. If you friend is comforting and offers advice, that’s a sign you have a true friend.
Write it Down
Take a short break and write down everything that you have to do. Many times the things that need to be done that don’t relate to our current activity are fighting in our brain for attention. A simple brain dump can quiet them temporarily, long enough to get the current project done. Then, you can look at the list and prioritize what needs to be done next. Keep your list close so that you can write down new things that pop up. Better yet, keep an ongoing list in your planner so it’s always near.
Practice the 4 A’s of Stress Management
The four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept
- Avoid unnecessary stress. Learn how to say “no,” know your limits and stick to them. Avoid people who stress you out, take control of your environment, and pare down your to-do list.
- Alter the situation. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up, be willing to compromise and create a balanced schedule.
- Adapt to the stressor. Re-frame problems, look at the big picture, adjust your standards, and practice gratitude.
- Accept the things you can’t change. Many things are beyond our control. Look for the upside, learn to forgive, and share your feeling.
Just Say NO
Trying to do everything is a one-way ticket to serious stress. Be clear about your limits, and stop trying to please everyone all the time. The first step is to stop multitasking. Take this time management tip from successful people: concentrate on one task at a time to keep your stress in check.
Get Some Sleep
No, I don’t mean take a nap right now. Sleep can play a huge factor in our coping mechanisms. Getting rest is vital to our health and well-being. Improve your stress management by getting a full night of good rest. If you’re getting eight hours a night, you’ll feel more prepared to deal with the curve balls life throws your way. Don’t skimp on your sleep to get a few more items on your to-do list done. You’ll end up stressed and making errors that have to be corrected later, defeating the purpose of getting more done.
These are only a few of the things that can help you reduce your stress both in the moment and on a regular basis. Remember, the ultimate goal is a balanced life with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun. Claim your Life of Balance by using these stress management tips on a regular basis.
Check out these articles for ways to de-stress your morning:
I’d love to hear how you de-stress after a rough day. Leave a comment below or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.