Stress is a part of all people’s lives. It might seem like you can’t do anything about stress. Bills will continue to come, the hours in the day don’t get any longer and family responsibilities are still demanding.
There are many causes of stress. Some of the reasons for stress can be work, family, a sudden loss of a loved one, an ended marriage or relationship or problems in health and diet.
Untreated stress can lead to serious health conditions such as insomnia, high blood pressure, stroke or weakened immune systems. Stress can lead to depression and obesity, anxiety and chronic health issues.
Stress can also sabotage your success in any area of your life. Stress can keep you from focusing at work, from making decisions and from hiding from your responsibilities. You might make poor choices because of the stress you are under.
Stress Management Strategies
The good news is you can have some control over how you manage stress. You can learn to manage stress though, and live a happier, healthier life. Stress management is about taking charge of your lifestyle, your thoughts and emotions and the way you deal with problems.
Begin by changing your attitude. Reframe the way you look at problems. Keep a positive attitude about the situation or problem instead of looking at the bad side or the what ifs. By doing this you are keeping things in perspective.
Express your feelings instead of holding them in. if someone or something is bothering you, speak out about your concerns in a respectful way. Don’t get angry but do talk about how you feel to clear the air.
Get in some form of exercise every day. Exercise benefits your mind as well as your body. A simple 20-minute walk, a run, swim or dancing when you are stressed can give you a calming effect for hours afterward.
On the same note, be careful about what you eat and drink. A well-balanced diet of food that is low in sugar and caffeine keeps you from getting edgy and feeling nervy. Also limit the amount of alcohol and non-prescription drugs when trying to manage your stress. These can keep you from sleeping well and cause you to lose focus when you are working.
One strategy that many people have trouble with when managing their stress is getting enough sleep. It’s recommended to get six to eight hours of sleep a night. Stress can keep you from sleeping though. If getting to sleep or staying asleep is a problem you can do some things to help you relax. Try soaking in a scented bath thirty minutes before bed. Other ways to relax might be to journal or listen to soothing music.
Manage your time better to be less stressed. This includes saying no to projects and commitments. Avoid overscheduling by trying to fit too much into one day. Break big projects down into smaller steps. And finally, delegate some of the work and responsibility to others.
Laughter and smiles help you release the tension in your facial muscles that stress can cause. Watch funny movies or videos, get out with friends who make you laugh. Smile at others even when you don’t feel like it.
Learn to forgive and to feel gratitude. Accept things aren’t perfect and people make mistakes. Forgive others and yourself when mistakes happen. Be grateful for the things you appreciate in your life. Don’t forget your own positive qualities.
Get Silent and unplugged. Take a 5-minute break from all the noise we live in. Go into a room that’s private, say a bedroom or unused workroom or better yet, a place out in nature. Close your eyes and savor the peace and quiet. Listen to your own breathing, slow and steady.
Noise pollution is all around you. We are constantly dealing with cell phones, computers, social media, and electronic appliances that are constantly buzzing. At any given time during the day, we are surrounded by people at work or social situations, television and radio are constant background noise. All these things can keep you from being relaxed.
Finally, get support through friends and family. Opening up to others you trust can help relieve stress. Call friends who you know will understand and share your concerns and feelings.
The mind is a powerful tool when you are managing stress. Learning how to use techniques that allow your mind and body to relax instead of reacting helps you make better choices and decisions.
- Practice positive thought management. Change how you think, expect and what you tell yourself about stress by embracing a positive mindset. Before bed, use self-improvement or meditation audiotapes to help you relax and change your thoughts.
- Take time to meditate and become mindful of your thoughts every day. Meditation can help your mind and body relax and focus more clearly. Mindfulness allows you to see things in a new perspective while developing your own self-compassion and being able to forgive.
- Relax your mind and body with essential oils and aromatherapy. Use a diffuser with a few drops of natural essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, sandalwood or rose. Light some scented candles while you get ready for bed.
There are several studies that show inhaling the scents of plants or essential oils helps reduce anxiety. Drinking tea made from lavender, vanilla, chamomile or lemon balm can produce similar results. Create a ritual of lighting a candle or using essential oils and drinking calming tea just before bedtime. You won’t believe how relaxed you feel
Use relaxation techniques to relax your body and mind. There are different types of relaxation techniques you can use to calm your mind before you drift off to sleep. They include:
- Gentle Yoga poses lower stress levels, calm your mind and relieve tension in your body making it a natural sleep remedy. There are certain poses that can be particularly beneficial to fighting restlessness including the easy forward bend or the child’s pose.
- Mindfulness allows you to clear your mind and relax your body by listening to your breathing.
- Tap into your higher power. Spiritual reflection, prayer and meditation helps you rest your mind and body by clearing your thoughts and filling your soul with deeper meaning.
- Muscle relaxation techniques can be used to lower the tension in the body. This technique is the act of tensing and relaxing every muscle in your body by focusing on each one
- Use Breathing techniques to calm your mind. If you aren’t into prayer or formal meditation do some deep breathing instead. Sit still and breathe for 10 minutes. Notice your breath and when your mind begins to wander bring it back to your breath.
Mindfulness, relaxing your body and mind through meditation and other techniques helps you manage how you react to stress. This makes it easier to deal with and move through stressful situations.
What to Do Now
To better manage your stress, you need to take inventory of what your stressors are and how you can better manage them. It’s easy to identify major stressors like job changes, moving or life changes. But finding the smaller things that cause chronic stress is harder.
Look closely at your habits, your thoughts, your emotions and feelings and the people you associate with. Keep a stress journal to help you identify where the problems are. Write down how you felt, what caused your stress, how your reacted and what you can do do make yourself feel better.