If you have ever fallen ill during a particularly stressful time of your life, it’s because your body couldn’t refresh and replenish itself properly.
Nearly everyone today is either stressed or has been through a prolonged period of stress at some point. It’s simply becoming a part of our daily routine.
However, stress over extended periods can have lasting negative health consequences including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also take a severe toll on your emotional & mental well-being.
Of course, sometimes stress can be beneficial in helping us expand our capacity to handle high pressure situations like work deadlines. Nevertheless, managing stress properly is essential for maintaining maximum productivity and ensuring good health – that leads to a long & well-lived life.
Everyone has different ways of dealing with stress, some people listen to music while others prefer to do outdoor activities like taking a walk.
Here are 21 healthy methods to help you reduce stress and improve your health in the short- and long-term.
Identify Sources of Stress in Your Life
The first step to solving any problem is identifying its causes. You cannot reduce your stress if you don’t know the sources of stress in your life. Major stressors are often obvious enough to spot. It could be long hours at the office hunched over a desk, ruthless traffic jams on the trip to and from work, or a failing marriage.
The more difficult task is keeping track of the minor stressors, the little things you often don’t pay attention to that are causing you chronic stress. To identify these sources of stress, take a closer look at your habits, attitude, and excuses.
Start a stress journal. Any time you feel stressed, make a note of it in your journal. You will soon begin to see patterns and precursors to your stress. Write down:
- What caused you stress; make a guess if you’re not certain.
- How you felt, physically and emotionally
- How you responded
- What you did to make yourself feel better
Take a Breather
Whenever you find yourself in a high pressure situation, the type that’s very likely to stress you out, take some time for yourself before you respond.
You can try:
- Taking five deep breaths
- Counting to 10
- Tapping the side of your leg seven times, etc.
Whatever other unique system you devise for yourself, just make sure it gives you enough time to properly assess the situation as well as keep your emotions in check.
Avoid Stressful Situations
Taking proactive measures to prevent situations that cause you stress is essential in reducing your stress in the long-term.
Once you have identified particular situations, people or settings that usually cause you stress, limit the amount of time you have to spend in them. If they’re not absolutely necessary, avoid them completely and end such relationships.
Change Your Perspective
Sometimes, the way we view whatever situation we’re in is the reason we’re stressed. You can radically change a situation by viewing things from a positive perspective. Remember that every obstacle presents an opportunity for growth.
It’s also very good to consider things from a big picture perspective. How much will that situation that’s stressing you out currently matter in a few months or years? The answer will help you put it in the right frame.
Learn to Let Go
There are many things that are beyond your control – natural disasters, death, or how others act. Focus on the things which you can control and accept the things which you cannot.
Do not internalize negative behaviour/words from others, forgive those who offend you and apologize as soon you offend anyone.
Go Easy on Yourself
You will make many mistakes and commit many errors. Make peace with the fact that you’re not perfect and will never be but you’re working to be best person you can be every day.
It’s easy to be carried away on the winds of bad experiences but you can stay grounded by always appreciating the good things in your life.
Whenever you’re stressed by a bad situation, take time to reflect on all the good things in your life and all your positive attributes.
We can often get stressed when people do things we don’t want. Be flexible on the minor things and try to find a middle ground that’s good for all the parties involved.
Don’t Overcommit Yourself
Always be mindful of your to-do list and schedule. One of the most common causes of stress is a lack of time to do all we have planned.
Trim your to-do list to a reasonable size and make sure you don’t have too much to do in very little time. This allows give a 100% to whatever activity you’re carrying out and increases productivity.
Attend to your tasks in order of importance. If you leave the things which are most pressing till very late, you’re certain to raise your stress levels trying to complete them.
Break down more complex projects into smaller bits and focus on each smaller task one after the other. Be patient and don’t rush things.
Getting help can sometimes be difficult for those who like to micro-manage. However, delegating responsibility allows you complete your work efficiently and lessen the burden on yourself. Don’t be too shy to ask for help, we all need help.
Manage Your Time Well
Doing what you need to do when you need to do it goes a long way in eliminating some stress from your life. Don’t procrastinate on that shopping trip or making dinner for the family.
You can set your time five or so minutes early so you always get a head-start on whatever you need to do.
Take a Break
Don’t overwork yourself. It’s no use having a lot of wealth if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it or don’t have any time to spend with your family.
Disconnect and take a vacation, or even a simple dinner with family & friends. Just always remember to relax, and maintain a proper work-life balance.
Get enough Sleep
There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. It allows your body and mind refresh and restore themselves naturally.
You cannot be productive if you’re tired, and the mind as well as the body starts to respond less effectively when you’re lacking sleep.
Meditation helps to relax your mind and body. You can clear the thoughts that are causing you stress and focus on positive, happy thoughts. Practice deep breathing exercises as part of your meditation routine.
Smile and Laugh
Laughter improves our mood and reduces the levels of stress-causing chemicals in our body. Finding a reason to smile and laugh every day is also a good habit that ensures you maintain a positive perspective.
Talk to Friends
Simply talking about your problems can reduce stress especially if we’re sharing with a friend or confidant. Having friends who are willing to listen is very important to managing chronic stress especially when we cannot do anything about the situation causing the stress.
If you don’t have any friends you can trust enough to share your problems with, you can talk to a therapist or a trusted teacher or spiritual leader.
Make Time for Hobbies
Set aside time to do the things you enjoy. On a daily basis, try to do something that you have fun doing. Hobbies may include:
- Playing golf
- Watching a movie
- Solving puzzles, etc.
Working up a sweat is one of the best ways to relieve your stress. You can forget whatever is bothering you in that moment and work towards achieving fitness goals you’ve set for yourself. Make sure the fitness goals are attainable and don’t dwell on failing to meet them.
Working out also helps improve your mood. You don’t even have to go to a gym, you can incorporate stretches and simple exercises into your daily routine.
Caffeine or sugars can be a quick fix for dealing with stressful situations like deadlines or exams but the net effect of using them is a crash in mood and energy leaving you even more stressed.
It can quickly become a vicious cycle of dependence on those stimulants to function and that results in even higher stress levels.
The sooner you can largely remove caffeine and sugars from your diet, the closer you are to eliminating chronic stress completely.
Managing your physical and mental well-being often starts with what you eat. There are also certain foods that can help to reduce stress directly. Green tea can help you relax your mind and body.
Milk is also very good for reducing stress as it contains tryptophan and melatonin, two naturally occurring substances that help to aid sleep and reduce anxiety.
Drink a glass of milk at the end of your day while soaking in a Jacuzzi and watch your stress float away.
Stress doesn’t have to dominate your life the way it currently does. By practising these steps, you can live a largely stress-free life and enjoy a healthy, productive life.
It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight but each day will bring you progress. Stay the course and maintain your resolve to not allowing yourself get worked up over everything.
In no time, you’re enjoying your life of little to no stress!