01 Apr 9 Tips to Reducing Stress During National Stress Awareness Month
Stress is inevitable, and it is not always a bad thing. Stress can make us alert, increase performance, and spur us into needed action. However, if stress is prolonged, excessive and/or unchecked, it can lead to frustration, irritability, and poor physical and mental health. Luckily, there are several things you can do to relieve stress, and most strategies do not require a large investment of time or money. If you feel your stress is getting out of control and you need some relief, try one or more of the following strategies:
Almost any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Physical activity releases endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise can improve your mood, help you re-focus on yourself instead of external stressors. Some options include walking, hiking, jogging, gardening, housecleaning, biking, swimming, weightlifting, etc. Yoga is also a popular stress reliever, because it brings together physical and mental disciplines and can be performed by people of all ages and athletic abilities.
Eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. When you eat better, you feel better! Remember to fuel your body with what it needs for recovery and growth, avoid fast foods and stay hydrated. Additionally, avoid too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, eating too much, or using illegal substances.
During meditation, you focus your attention and become mindful of your breathing, and quiet your mind. Meditation can instill a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
Guided meditation, guided imagery, visualization and other forms of meditation can be practiced almost anywhere and anytime.
Laughter (even a forced fake laugh) has been shown to have positive effects on your health. When you laugh, it causes positive physical changes in your body. So watch a comedy, read or tell some jokes, hang out with your friends and remember, it’s OK to set down some of your burdens for a while and try to be silly.
Serve And Connect With Others
When we’re stressed and irritable, sometimes our first instinct is to isolate ourselves. Instead, you should try and reach out to others and build, grow and foster social connections. Connecting with others offers distraction, provides support and can help you not feel alone during tough times. So meet with a friend, volunteer at a local charity or school, email a relative or visit your place of worship, for starters.
Got more time? Consider volunteering for a charitable group and help yourself while helping others.
Learn To Prioritize And Say “No”
You may think you can do it all, but you can’t, at least not without paying a price. Learning to delegate and prioritize tasks can help you become more organized and create a more workable task list.
Saying “yes” to taking on more work than you can handle may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and help out the team. However, it can cause significant internal conflict and increase your stress. It can also cause stress at home if your work load begins to interrupt your ability to take care of and connect with your family and friends.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the time your body uses to recharge and repair itself. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. This can affect your ability to get to sleep, and/or adversely affect the quality and amount of sleep you are getting. Lack of quality sleep can have negative effects on your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. Create a regular sleep schedule that promotes quiet and relaxation.
Listen To Music or Find A Hobby
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can provide a mental distraction, reduce muscle tension and decrease stress hormones. Positive effects of music are not only restricted to relaxing “elevator music.” Feel free to crank up the volume of your favorite genre of music and let your mind rest from your regular patterns of thoughts.
If music isn’t your thing, stress can also be reduced when you turn your attention to other hobbies such as drawing, reading, crafting, etc. – anything that requires you to focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
If the above tips are not helping to reduce your stress, research formal therapy or counseling. Everyone knows that if you have an illness, you sometimes have to take medicine for an assist. In the same way, sometimes your your brain and thoughts need an assist as well to get back on track. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.