One of the things we are bound to experience at one time or another in our lives is stress. Stress is undoubtedly a universal experience that we all experience but the ways in which we are affected by stress and manage stress is surely different from one person to the next. Unfortunately, stress can have a multitude of effects on a person’s physical, mental and spiritual health as well as their overall quality of life. If you do not reduce stress effectively, it can cause a number of health issues; such as headaches, high blood pressure, or indigestion problems. It can also negatively impact a person’s mood, emotional reactivity, and personal relationships.
In saying that, every person experiences and manages stress differently but there are some strategies that can help reduce stress.
Practice Self-Care to reduce stress
Self-care helps reduce stress. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to make and dedicate time to doing the things you enjoy. This can be anything from reading one of your favourite books, taking a warm bath, or practising yoga. Given our busy lifestyles, it is too easy to forget about ourselves and the things that make us feel good… In times of stress though, self-care is something we need to make time for in order to help ourselves recharge and reenergize. Read more on what self-care means to me.
Manage your stress by eating well
Spend some time thinking about your current eating habits. Have you been overeating or undereating due to stress? Have you been skipping meals, picking up fast food, or resorting to eating junk food more frequently? If that is the case, it is important to revamp your diet and implement a well-balanced one. It is okay to have a “cheat meal” once in a while but our bodies (and minds) need a balanced, nutritional diet in order to feel energized and ultimately, to better cope with everyday stressors. A good diet can help reduce stress.
During moments of high stress, it is important that you reach out to your support system and spend quality time with positive people, rather than isolating and withdrawing yourself. In saying that, it is also important to assess your current relationships and see if there are ones that are more emotionally harmful than boosting.
Get Physical to decrease your stress
As you may know, exercise has a multitude of benefits for a person’s physical and mental health so there is no doubt that it would also help reduce a person’s stress. Although engaging in exercise can seem daunting at times, it does not have to be anything too strenuous. ‘Getting physical’ can be anything from taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, going for a walk with your dog, or going for a bike ride with your kids. Regardless of what you do, exercise releases “happy hormones” (endorphins) which are known to naturally improve a person’s mood and immune system. Plus, exercise is a great (and healthy) coping strategy to reduce stress. Read more about the Benefits of Exercise for Depression.
When you are feeling stressed, it is easy to focus on all the negativity that is around you and subsequently, forget about ‘all the good’. Being grateful keeps you positive and helps reduce your stress. Stress is undoubtedly overwhelming at times and it is difficult to ‘remain positive’ when you are feeling burnt out. Like many of the suggestions listed above, it is important to set aside time to practice gratitude. In spite of life’s stressors, there is always beauty to be seen and found; even though it may not come to mind right away.
Mayo Clinic. (2016). Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.
Moninger, J. (n.d.). 10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast.
Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, R. (2016). Stress Management.