It may seem like there’s nothing you can do to get your stress in check.
The bills won’t stop coming, there are never enough hours in the day, and you’re always juggling work and family responsibilities. But you have a lot more control than you might think. Managing your stress is all about taking charge; taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life seems, there are steps you can take to stress less and regain control.
Why is it important to learn how to manage stress?
If you’re living with chronic stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress affects your emotional and your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.
Learning to effectively manage stress will help you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. Stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
#1 Get moving
Physical activity is a huge stress reliever because exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good.
While you’ll get the most benefit from regularly exercising for 30 minutes or more, it’s okay to build up your fitness level gradually. I’m a big fan of ‘sneaking’ activity in, because it adds up! Here are some suggestions:
- Put on some music and dance around
- Take your dog for a walk
- Use the stairs rather than an elevator
- Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way.
- Find an exercise buddy who will keep you accountable
#2 Make time for relaxation
It’s important to take some “me” time. If you’re too busy putting everyone else’s needs first, you’ll forget to take care of your own needs. Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. If you regularly make time for relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors.
Set aside leisure time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to get in the way. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries and I encourage you to block it off in your calendar, just like you would any other appointment.
Make time for activities that bring you joy, whether it be reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or booking a spa day.
Consider taking up a relaxation practice
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, Reiki, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight/stress response. As you learn and practice these techniques, your stress levels will decrease and your mind and body will become calm and centered.
#3 Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with whole food nutrition.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to make poor decisions and it can negatively affect your mood.