Stress is a reality for most of us from time to time, and it has even been suggested that a little is in fact normal, and can improve our performance.
However, when it becomes something more permanent, instead of protecting us, it can eventually make us more vulnerable to health problems, including headaches, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.
How To Deal With Stress
So, here are 15 simple, yet effective, ways to deal with stress, before it escalates out of control.
1. Breathe Deeply
Merely focusing on your breathing may seem a little too easy, but it really does work. Deep breathing helps to ease tension, causing you to feel more relaxed almost instantly.
Try closing your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Visualizing a relaxing scene, such as watching a beautiful sunset, or walking on the beach, can also add to the feeling of calm.
2. Count To 10
Reacting negatively to situations which stress you will only serve to make you feel worse. Instead, take a few moments to step back and count to 10, gather your thoughts, take a few deep breaths, and then carry on.
3. Mini Massage
With the thumb of one hand, massage the palm of the other hand by making small circles, working every area of the palm and fingers also. Switch and do the other hand. This is surprisingly very relaxing!
Stretching can be a very simple and effective way of de-stressing.
Move your head from one side to the other, and also up and down.
Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, and then relax.
Bring your arms high above your head and reach alternately toward the sky, then drop your arms and reach toward the floor.
Try the “child pose.” Kneel down on the floor, sit back on your heels, then lean your body forward, putting your forehead on the floor with your arms alongside your legs, palms up. Hold there for a few moments, concentrating on your breathing.
5. Pressure Points
Putting pressure on specific points on the body can help ease away the stress:
Scalp soother – place your thumbs behind your ears while spreading your fingers on top of your head. Move your scalp back and forth slightly by making circles with your fingertips for 15-20 seconds.
Easy on the eyes – close your eyes and place your ring fingers directly under your eyebrows, near the bridge of your nose. Slowly increase the pressure for 5-10 seconds, then gently release. Repeat 2-3 times.
Sinus pressure relief – place your fingertips at the bridge of your nose. Slowly slide your fingers down your nose and across the top of your cheekbones to the outside of your eyes.
Shoulder tension relief – reach one arm across the front of your body to your opposite shoulder. Using a circular motion, press firmly on the muscle above your shoulder blade. Repeat on the other side.
Neck tension relief – on the back of the neck slightly below the base of the skull, about half an inch to the left or right of the spine.
6. Write It Down
If you tend to worry continually, restrict yourself to a half hour each day when you allow yourself to think about worrying matters. During this time you can write down your concerns, and evaluate them.
However, throughout the rest of the day say to yourself, “I’ll think about that later.” This will help reduce the amount of time you spend each day worrying unnecessarily.
7. Just Say “NO!”
Are work commitments getting too much for you? If they are, remember there’s no shame in saying no to your boss, friends or family. You don’t have to, nor can you, please everyone – so don’t try!
8. Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep is a big contributor to how we feel, and react, and it can also have detrimental effects of our overall health. While most of us experience a few sleepless nights from time to time, chronic sleep loss can be a major problem, contributing to a number of health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and depression.
Try to create a regular schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.
Get optimum sleep every night – an average of 8 hours is recommended.
Aim for sleep in one continuous block, if possible. This way your body receives better mental recovery, as it is allowed to reach a deeper sleep cycle.
9. Smile… Even If You Don’t Mean It!
Smiling instantly gives you a lift, making you feel more relaxed and happy, and helping to relieve some of the stressful tension.
So, if you want to reduce stress, anxiety, and muscular tension, just smile. But, remember a smirk doesn’t count, you need use your mouth, cheeks and eyes for the full effect!
10. Laugh At Yourself, Or Others
It has been said that a hearty laugh is like internal body exercise. It also helps to improve our quality of life by reducing stress, elevating our mood, connecting us with others, and generally making us feel better.
So, bring laughter into your life whenever possible. Make it your aim to see the funny side to life, rather than getting stressed about things that come your way!
11. Enjoy Your Surroundings
When you feel stress levels rising, focus on something positive. Take time to get up and look out of the window, look for something natural to captive your imagination, for example the green trees, a nearby river, or the blue sky.
Better still, go outside to enjoy the fresh air, some breathing space, and a little time to reflect on your current situation.
12. Listen To Music
Crank up your ipod with whatever makes you feel happy; maybe it’s classical, gospel or even something upbeat. Just make sure you’ve got a good selection to suit every mood and circumstance!
13. Talk To Friends
They say, “A problem shared, is a problem halved,” and there’s muchwisdom in that saying!
Sharing our troubles helps us to gain perspective on the situation, and friends have a great way of making us feel cared for. Often our problem may not be as bad as we think, and a friend can point this out to us!
14. Eat Healthy Foods
It’s vital to eat well everyday. A healthy diet is a major factor in achieving a healthy mind and body.
Start each day with a healthy breakfast – think of your body as a car, it doesn’t run well on empty, does it? It’s the same for your body. Choose a high fibre cereal, such as porridge, or wholegrain bread, with fresh fruit, and low fat yoghurt, or milk.
Regular meals and snacks are extremely important – this will ensure that your body has a steady energy supply, helping to maintain your blood glucose levels, which in turn will help control feelings of stress.
Choose high fibre carbohydrates at each meal – this will provide the fuel your bodies needs, and also provide a source of B vitamins, which are beneficial for nerve and brain cells.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – they contain essential antioxidant vitamins, and other nutrients, which help to counter free radical damage, thought to be heightened during times of stress. Choose a range of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables for maximum benefit.
15. Make Time To Exercise
Regular exercise is very effective in helping to manage stress by releasing endorphins which elevate our mood, and also giving us an energy boost. If you exercise outside you will have the added benefit of natural surroundings to further trigger your relaxation responses.
Try to find an activity you enjoy such as walking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis, or go all out and try rock climbing, or scuba diving!
When you feel stressful thoughts coming on, ask yourself, “Are these negative thoughts helping me in any way?” This is a good way of re-focusing your mind on what is really important.
Try making time just for you to relax and unwind on a daily basis. Can you set aside at least 30 minutes, where you do something enjoyable on your own? Perhaps listen to your favourite cd, take a relaxing bath, or read a book. This should be a time when you have no interruptions – think of it as recharging your batteries! Best wishes!