We know by now that stress is not something to take lightly. Chronic stress can pose some real health risks to your body.
Short-term, a little bit of stress isn’t so bad - in fact it gives your body the boost it needs in a situation in order to react accordingly and solve it. However long-term stress can lead to high blood pressure, chest pains, headaches, upset stomachs, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, problems with sex and more.
Remember not all stressful situations need to be big and life changing. Low-grade, long-term stress affects you just as much. When you do find yourself in a stressful situation, first identify the cause (or causes) of your stress and ask yourself what you can do about it. Alongside that, here are seven ways to manage your stress.
By far, breathing and meditation have proven to reduce stress and anxiety in patients, even in a group setting. When faced with a stressful situation, the body reacts by going into fight or flight mode. Your heart rate increases, breathing becomes shallow, you get a dry mouth, etc. The first thing to do in situations like these is take a slow, deep breath. Then take another. For a more long-term solution, invest in meditation, daily if possible, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.
Working out/walking has also been known to reduce stress in people. We’ve all heard of the runner’s high which is when the body releases endorphins causing you to feel ecstatic and ‘high’. Taking time in your busy day to fit in even a 15-minute workout or walk will go a long way in reducing stress. I personally go for long, meandering walks whenever I feel out of sorts and stressed out. Not only does it allow me to process my thoughts, a brisk walk allows me to be outdoors and in nature when I’ve been cooped up indoors all day, and allows my body to unwind.
Stay away from alcohol/drugs
While it might be tempting to turn to a glass (or more) of alcohol, or maybe even drugs, this is literally the worst thing you can do for your stress. Not only do all drugs (alcohol included in this list) come with a form of ‘comedown’ which will only make you feel worse, no matter how slight, these things aren’t cheap either. So now you’ve got added stress and a comedown to deal with. It might be hard, but I urge you to hang out with good, supportive friends instead.
Ah, the little pleasures in life that we never seem to have the time for anymore. Reading - if that is your thing - is often an underrated cure for stress. And I suggest you pick up a good fiction instead of non-fiction. Get lost in the novel, let your imagination soar and your troubles melt away.
Eat Well/Stay away from sugar
Eating well might not seem to have a direct connection to stress reduction, but eating healthy and staying away from sugars can make you feel a lot better. And that alone can help you be more focused, less depressed, have more energy and give you a general feel-good feeling that will help you deal with your stress. The tendency when we are stressed is to skip meals, or just eat some fast food, drink more caffeine to give us an energy boost, etc. But this is the time your body needs you to stay away from junk food!
Learn to say 'No'
A lot of times, our feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed come from taking on too much. Trust me when I say I know how this feels like. I don’t like to disappoint people and will always try to accommodate any request - to my own detriment. Learning to politely say ‘no’ might just give you the space you need for some much needed ‘me’ time.
Make time for your hobbies
Do you have enough play in your life? Those moments where you are doing something purely for the pleasure of it, no expectations, no deadlines? Well, that’s why your hobbies are super important. Just like reading, hobbies and interests give you the much needed headspace that allows your body to relax and unwind. Think back to your long lost hobby and perhaps start doing it again?
We do hope these seven stress management techniques will help you deal with your stress in a more manageable way and give you peace of mind.