Stress is an inevitable part of life. It comes and goes at the worst of times. Unfortunately, it can be a hindrance by decreasing productivity levels, increasing anxiety, and lowering our overall mood.
There are also many different kinds of stress that affect us in different ways.
Fortunately for all of us, there are things we can do to effectively manage stress and prevent it from completely taking over and causing burn out.
They range between self-care practices to integrating healthy routines into your everyday life.
Using a few of these techniques can be a complete game changer when implemented into a daily practice.
Disclaimer: I am not in any way a certified therapist so all the advice is given from my own experience and should not be taken as medical advice.
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What Is Stress?
Stress is your body’s response to changes in your life.
Because life involves constant change – ranging from every day, routine changes like commuting from home to work to adapting to major life changes like marriage, divorce, or death of a loved one – there is no avoiding stress.
Your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate all stress but to eliminate unnecessary stress and effectively manage the rest.
There are some common causes of stress that many people experience, but each person is different.
Here are a few of my favourite stress management techniques.
10 Stress Management Techniques
Accept there are some things you can’t control
This one takes no time at all really, but it does require a commitment to changing your mindset. A lot of the time we get stressed out by things that are totally out of control.
Because they are out of control it really becomes a waste of energy to constantly stress out over them.
For example, specific demands of your job, the fact that we’re living through a pandemic in 2020/2021, the weather, traffic, or the thoughts and actions of other people.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t stress at all over things like this, but you can’t let it consume you and cause you stress day after day.
For the sake of a simple example: getting super stressed out on your long commute home through traffic. Unless you go find a new job closer to home this is totally out of your control.
So as a stress management technique, accept that fact and then make the most of the situation. For example, listen to an audio book or podcast, call a friend (hands free of course), or find somewhere new to stop and explore on the way home.
If not, you’re just going to be super stressed every evening and you’ll probably have no energy to do anything by the time you get home.
Be physically Active
Research consistently proves that physical activity both reduces stress levels and helps to prevent many of the negative side-effects of stressful life events.
The great news is that you don’t need to run a marathon or devote all your days to the gym to enjoy the benefits of exercise.
Almost any type of physical activity will help purge you of tension and lead to the production of endorphins; those “feel-good” chemicals that boost mood and energy.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week, but if your fitness levels are low then try starting out with just 10 minutes of activity.
As you exercise, tune into your bodily sensations and notice your own physicality; this is a form of mindfulness, which promotes stress control in itself.
Here are some fun and easy ways to get your heart rate up:
- Dance to your favourite song
- Walk to the store instead of driving
- Walk your dog, or borrow someone else’s for half an hour
- Take the stairs every time there’s an option
- Find an exercise buddy, and go to classes together.
Start your day off right
High energy levels in the mornings (although this may sometimes seem impossible) are essential to start the day and, hopefully, end the day with a positive outlook and a clear mindset.
Staying hydrated, avoiding coming to work on an empty stomach and aiming to be well rested overnight will all contribute to better mornings and more motivation.
You may also find it beneficial to give yourself a little extra time in the mornings to get ready for the day. This will prevent rush and panic and ensure you are fully prepared for whatever is thrown your way.
Put simply, mindfulness means creating an awareness of ourselves in a present moment, by paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, noticing the world around us and reconnecting with the sensations it brings.
Mindfulness can aid mental wellbeing – when you’re having a moment of stress, take a moment to stand back and reflect. You’ll notice how busy your mind can get, and mindfulness can help to slow it down.
You can find more mindfulness tips on the Mind website, including exercise to help you put it into practise.
Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
At the other end of the spectrum, smoking, drinking and binge-eating are all common coping strategies amongst people who are stressed, but turning to vices isn’t a legitimate way to process your emotions.
Take steps to remove these options, whether it’s not keeping cigarettes in the house or making a weekly meal plan so you can’t order takeaways, to help yourself to stop relying on these unhealthy habits. The short-term release is exhilarating, but they’re likely to make you feel worse in the long run.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deficit has just about become an epidemic in contemporary society. Continuously pushed to accomplish and produce, practically every single person is accountable for depriving themselves of rest.
In a stressful situation, you may attempt to “pull an all-nighter” to fulfil a deadline or do some last second studying, but contrary to what your over-stressed mind is suggesting; a well-rested mind and body will be able to achieve far more, without over-taxing your system.
Do a brain dump
A brain dump is simply the act of dumping all the contents of your mind onto paper as one might dump the contents of a purse onto a table.
You are spilling out stressors, your nagging thoughts, your pesky annoyances. Simply open up a valve in your mind and let all those thoughts flow out of your hand and onto some paper.
Write until you feel like the pressure inside of you is lessened and you can take a deep breath. Then you will have achieved a brain dump.
Employ the power of positive thinking. Rather than incessantly worrying about the same things over and over, break the cycle and train your brain to think in a way that is positive and uplifting.
One way to do this is to envision the results that you want, rather than thinking about the results that you’re afraid of.
Imagine everything working out. Sometimes, just the very thought of things unfolding in your favour can be truly inspiring.
Another approach is to practice positive affirmations.
When you’re stressed, sometimes the best strategy can be distraction – especially when it’s with a simple task that makes you feel in control and has a series of steps to follow.
Psychologists call these ‘flow’ activities, switching off the conscious brain and putting you into a calming, meditative state.
Think baking, cleaning or organising, all processes which give you a clear, easily achievable goal and give you a massive satisfaction boost when complete.
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10 Stress Management Techniques
I hope you were able to take some of these tips and tricks and add them into your stress management tool box to use when you need them.
Stress can be such a nuisance and is really unnecessary. Let’s stick together and find a way to live a more relaxed, productive, and happy life!
What are your tips for stress relief? I would love to hear them.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about topics such as lifestyle, self-care, self-development, finance, saving money and making money. Come and join the community!