We all have stress, and while it is an everyday human experience, it is critical that we manage it well and keep it within our control.
Research shows that “long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms.”
Remember that not all stress is negative; stress causes us to react in emergency situations and gets us geared up for that important game or presentation!
My own stress manifests itself in tension, headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues.
So, I try to manage my stress proactively, using several self-care strategies. I know my stressors, so I remember to counter them with the coping strategies I have developed. I exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and I take time for recovery and relief.
Simple Ways to Reduce Stress
It may take some trial and error to find what methods of reducing stress work the best for you, but the journey is well worth taking.
Just as everyone’s stressors are different, so too are the best ways to manage these stressors.
Reject the notion that taking the time to care for yourself is “selfish”; being at your best is the best way to be there for the ones you love.
Here are a few ideas to get you started!
1) Mindful Meditation
Stress can manifest itself in intrusive, dark thoughts. By bringing your attention to mindful meditation, you can calm both your mind and body.
There are many meditation techniques to try, such as:
- guided imagery
Do some research, and you are sure to find a meditation expert in your community. There are also many quality meditation apps and e-courses available.
2) Mindful Breathing
When stressed, I often find that I am holding my breath or breathing very shallowly. To counteract this harmful habit:
- I practice conscious breathing.
- I find a quiet space and focus my attention on my breath while breathing to my belly.
- Try gently placing your hand on your abdomen; if you breathe deeply, your hand should rise and fall with each breath.
Stress is often the result of the demands others make of us, and too many individuals don’t take enough time in their day for self-care. Yoga is all about being present and getting in touch with your breathing, mind, and body.
Research suggests that yoga is beneficial for back pain, arthritis, heart health, strength, balance, and flexibility. This research has also shown that taking part in yoga regularly can help you better manage your stress, mental health, and sleep quality.
Keeping track of troublesome things, including stress, is a helpful habit. By jotting down key triggers, situations, or even people that seem to cause you undue stress, you can develop coping strategies.
By journaling my own stressors, I now know to avoid crowded concerts, shopping malls, and excessive socializing.
5) Exercise, Sleep, and Nutrition
I always feel so much better mentally and physically after a workout.
- Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and takes your mind away from stressful thoughts.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet, and when feeling stress, avoid excessive amounts of caffeine.
- Develop a sleep routine, which allows you the necessary time to sleep. Your sleep routine could include a gentle self-massage, sleep mask, earplugs, and mindful meditation.
- Where you sleep is important; try to avoid working in the same space so that your mind associates the space with rest and rejuvenation when you go to bed.
These are just a few tips to better manage your stress. Evaluate your stress to determine if it is chronic and is negatively impacting your life.
It’s critical that you know when to reach out for professional help; your healthcare team is always your first and best source for understanding your health and how to lead a healthy and rich life.