Stress is a part of life, but it can be difficult to manage. As the pressure from everything mounts, we often feel like there's no end in sight. We all need healthy ways to de-stress daily in order to cope with stress and avoid burnout. The first two things we’ll discuss are self-care and mindset because they both have long-term effects on your stress levels. Then, I’ll offer up some other de-stressing activities to help.
Self-care is an important factor to not only reduce stress but also increase your happiness. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do and it’s vital when it comes to mental health.
It’s not only easy but in our society almost expected, to let your well-being fall to the side when you’re taking care of everything and everyone around you. However, continuing to put yourself last can be very detrimental to your mental well-being.
You need to do things that bring you pleasure. Doing what you enjoy can cut stress triggers and can help improve all areas of your life, including work and relationships. Try putting yourself first, at least sometimes. Creating time to try new hobbies, going on dates (even alone), or taking a much-needed vacation can help you clear your thoughts.
Make time to put effort into your personal wants and needs every single day. This could be in the form of a 15-minute walk, a nightly glass of wine and bowl of popcorn, or reading a favorite book before bed. Remember that taking care of yourself is important and not something you should feel guilty about.
De-stressing daily isn’t as difficult as you may think. It does take some planning and action on your part, but most of the techniques mentioned here don’t require a ton of time or money to execute. Small steps to work on reducing your stress so you will be happier and in a better mood will pay off in the long run.
Power of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can play a big part in your stress levels. When you’re stressed it can cause you to lose sleep. The cycle of not sleeping, being tired, and not being able to sleep will only make your stress levels worse.
Getting adequate sleep can improve brain function, which can help you better process and manage your stress. Before you sleep, be sure to dim your lights and turn off your television, phone, and/or laptop. Give yourself time to relax before you fall asleep. Having a bedtime routine will help in falling asleep at a regular time each night.
Effect of Music
Music is a great way to de-stress daily because it takes your attention off the stress at hand and allows you to relax. This is especially helpful at night when you are trying to sleep (see above).
Any time you feel stressed, turn on some quiet music to help unwind and take a break from your day. Be mindful that the music you listen to can add to the stress if not chosen carefully, so try to stick to calm, more instrumental music to get the best effects from this hack. Or choose a song that you like to sing along to that makes you happy.
On the other hand, sometimes you just need to rage to get it out of your system. If that’s the case, go for it! Just keep in mind that what we expose our brains to (negative or positive) will have an effect on our brain and its output.
Scents for Relaxation
Our sense of smell is a great partner in de-stressing. Aromatherapy is known to specifically help encourage calm and relaxation. Scents such as lavender, rose, frankincense, sandalwood, or orange blossom are awesome to have around to combat stress.
You can use these scents via an aromatherapy machine, burning incense, using them in perfumes, adding them to your baths, or even by keeping them around in candles!
An added bonus is that you can use aromatherapy with other stress-relieving techniques or when you are busy with other things. For example, you can easily light a candle in your office to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy while you work, or dab some stress-relieving scents on in the morning to keep you calmer throughout the day.
Caffeine Consumption Reduction
I get it. I really, really do. While I’m not a coffee drinker, I will never give up my Diet Coke. But… Studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of caffeine each day tend to be more stressed and anxious than those who don’t. Since most caffeine is consumed through coffee or energy drinks, you need to be aware of how much you’re drinking. I’m not saying you have to give it all up, but think about possibly cutting back (or going decaf).
It’s no secret that laughter can help improve your mood. It also helps you cope with stress better and relieves the physical tension that stress puts on your body.
Make time for funny moments in your life so that you are harnessing the power of laughter every day. Watch a funny TV show or spend more time with friends that keep you giggling. For me, more often than not, it’s my kids who make me laugh. They’re a great source of entertainment, whether they’re talking directly to me or I hear them interacting with each other. Add a bit of humor to your life where you can, it makes it more enjoyable.
Learn to say “no”
Yes—this one is especially for you, Mom. You know who you are. Busy schedules can be very overwhelming and increase our stress levels. When you already have a packed day, any unexpected event can easily send you over the edge. But we never want to disappoint people or let them down. They count on us.
Take a step back and learn to prioritize your time. Remove any tasks that aren’t essential to your life or bring you happiness. Learn to say “no” when you are asked or invited to do something that doesn’t add value to your life. The world will not fall apart if we don’t do it all.
Setting boundaries can be difficult at first, but the more you set them, the easier it becomes! Remember that no is a complete sentence.
Often, the stresses we feel are brought about because of the way we perceive things and react to situations around us. As much as some of us would like to (*that’s me raising my hand high), we cannot control everyone and everything. We can only choose how we react and handle things.
Positivity for the Win
It can be difficult to remain optimistic when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but focusing on staying positive can actually help you feel better and happier.
The effects of stress on our bodies can differ based on how we perceive it. It’s been proven that those with a positive mindset can better deal with stress so it doesn’t affect them as much as those that are always thinking negatively.
As silly as it seems, looking for the silver lining in every situation can make all the difference. It’s in the way you perceive things. What can you learn from the situation? What changes would you make for next time? Was there something you could’ve done to prevent the damage? Being able to answer such questions will lead you to the positive side of things.
Becoming aware of the root causes of stress can help you decrease its effect on your mind and body. Your job, relationships, and daily routines are great places to start when considering the factors adding to your stress.
It’s easy to point at the immediate stressor, but often, there is more at play. This one thing is not what is completely pushing you to the edge.
Although stress is normal, constantly being overwhelmed by it is not. It may be time for a change in one or more areas of your life to decrease the amount of stress you have to deal with. This could be small or big changes. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to say goodbye.
Manage your time
Obviously, you’re here because this isn’t easy for you. Quite possibly your stress spiked simply by me adding this to the list. However, managing your time can help lower your stress levels. Creating a schedule to manage your day helps keep your thoughts organized. Don’t forget to make time for fun and relaxation, too!
Set aside times of the day when you can take breaks from your work or school. Do something every day to make your day enjoyable. Don’t overcommit yourself to tasks you don’t enjoy, and always try to break big projects into smaller steps.
Creating a schedule that shows you what to do and when to do it will help you visualize your time better. Keeping your day organized will help your stress levels stay low.
This goes hand in hand with managing your time. If you manage your time, you will be able to prioritize and get everything done—even the things you’d rather avoid. Putting off things you don’t want to do may seem like a good idea at the time, but it actually makes your stress worse. You might think that by avoiding it, it’s out of your mind.
But in reality, it’s still there, like a dark cloud hanging out over your head. You know it needs to be taken care of. The longer you try to ignore it, the bigger and darker it becomes. That’s because procrastination leads you to have to work against a deadline, and that in itself will add even more stress to the task.
4 Simple De-Stressing Activities
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. While it’s one of the last things you want to do while stressed out, it can actually help in a big way! Exercise has been proven as one of the easiest ways to release feelings of anger or anxiety by releasing endorphins through physical activity. These endorphins help you feel happier and more productive throughout your day.
Additionally, exercise strengthens the immune system and improves cognitive functioning so it's an excellent method for reducing stress levels naturally. If you're working on changing how you currently handle stressful situations in life, try adding some form of physical activity into your daily routine. It will help release tension from the body while giving you plenty of time to examine what might be causing all that anxiety.
Whether it’s going on a walk, putting on music and dancing around, or playing with your dog, it can all be a helpful way to deal with stress. Exercising daily for 30 minutes or more can increase the activity of your brain, making it easier to process stressful events that happen. There’s no need for huge exercises like running miles or lifting heavy weights, unless that’s what you want to do. Simple things to get your brain and body moving can make you feel better.
While regular activity is best to keep stress at bay, don’t discount going for a walk any time you feel on edge.
The fresh air can help you calm down and the endorphins your body releases from the physical activity help improve your mood. Even a 15-minute walk each day can dramatically decrease the amount of stress you feel on a consistent basis.
Meditation is an easy way to reduce stress. It enhances self-awareness and can also lengthen your attention span. Meditation is very calming and one of the best ways to reduce stress. If you meditate for even just 10 minutes a day it can help you control your stress levels naturally.
Although the advice “take a deep breath” may seem useless and cliche, it can work. Taking a few moments by yourself, closing your eyes, and taking deep breaths in a pattern can help you calm yourself down.
Sometimes all you need is to close your eyes and focus on your breathing to reduce stress. There are an abundance of breathing techniques you can try, but it can even be helpful to take simple, slow, deep breaths through your nose and exhale them through your mouth.
Take 5 deep breaths the next time you are feeling stressed and you’ll be surprised how much it can help calm your mind and help you regroup your emotions and focus.
While this won’t necessarily eliminate your stress or avert a crisis, deep breathing does have physical and mental benefits – especially when done on a regular basis.
3. Connect with others
Sometimes you need to get out of your head and spend time outside of your environment. Taking time to connect to others is another healthy way to cope with stress. Spending quality time with your friends is an easy way to distract yourself from negative and stressful thoughts.
You don't necessarily have to talk about how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. Sometimes you just need to have normal conversations with your friends as a simple distraction from your stress. Going shopping with friends, joining a club, even staying in with friends, and just hanging out will help lower your stress levels.
4. Reach out for support
Sometimes the most you can do to help yourself is reach out for support. You can reach out to a counselor or therapist and talk about your stress levels and how you have tried to manage them.
You can also reach out to a family member or friend, or anyone that you can confide in. Talking about how you feel and trying to find out why you’re stressed can help you discover how exactly you can lower your stress levels.
Whether you’re ranting to a friend or a professional therapist, pay attention to how you describe your stress. Reaching out for support is never something to be embarrassed by. Sometimes you need the input of others to understand what’s going on in your head.
We have all felt it, that feeling of being overwhelmed. The stress can be related to work, school, family life, and more. You may go through a cycle of emotions such as anger, guilt, or sadness. These emotions are not always healthy for you and your loved ones, so it is important to find coping mechanisms that work best for you! Leave a comment below letting me know what’s worked for you when it comes to healthy ways to cope with stress in your life.