Stress Reduction Tips

What lurks in the shadows of your life, depletes your energy, sacks your concentration, and challenges your self-esteem? Many friends, co-workers, and family members talk about it, others deny its existence. Some even consider it a silent killer. This thing is no joke. If you live with too much of it, it can kill you and if it doesn’t, it will make your life miserable.

But there’s something you can do about it; you can tame it. Can you guess its name?

There’s no avoiding stress in this life. It’s here to stay. Thankfully, making friends with it is possible.

High-stress levels put your psychological, emotional, and physical wellbeing at risk. Without reeling it in you’ll end up with headaches, indigestion, high blood pressure, chest pains, disturbed sleep, anxiety, and depression. Life enjoyment along with your ability to think clearly will be diminished.

However, the situation isn’t as dire as it first seems. Although stress is here to stay you do have control over it. It will take practice to manage at first but eventually keeping it in check will become second nature. You can gain control over it and live more peacefully.

Identify the Source

The first step that’s needed to manage stress is to identify its source.  This may sound easy, but it will take a bit of thought on your part. Major stressors like going through a divorce, a death in the family, changing jobs, or moving are easy to pinpoint. The challenge comes when your source of stress isn’t so obvious like upcoming work deadlines, procrastination, family demands. These are fueled by your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and often develop into a chronic condition.

 To determine your stressors, take a pen and piece of paper and write

  • what you believe caused the stress
  • how it made you feel
  • your reaction
  • what you did to make the situation better

Once you’ve noted the information, you’ll be ready to tackle each stressor and devise a plan of action for every situation.

Take a Breather

Breathing deeply activates relaxation by helping you focus on your breath, making it slower and deeper. It also slows your heart rate and brings you a feeling of peacefulness. These exercises activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.

There are different ways you can practice deep breathing, you can try diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, and belly breathing.A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of examples for each type of exercise.

Connect

Having a network of friends and family members you trust can help you navigate stressful times. These are the people who make you feel safe and understood, who won’t judge you, and who have your back.

Nowadays, it’s not always realistic to have our favorite people close by when overwhelm sets in but meeting with them remotely is the next best thing. They can still help you see things differently offering you their view of the situation. They’re a shoulder to cry on, an ear to hear your frustrations, and someone to smile and laugh with.

Don’t forget to return the favor when times of stress visit them.

Eat Well

Ever wonder why you crave sweet, salty, or fat-laden foods and drinks when feeling stressed or anxious? The reason is, it’s all in your head. Our brain releases cortisol, a hormone that makes us crave these types of foods for the pleasure they bring. This is known as stress-eating. The caveat is that it’s a temporary solution.

The problem with them is that they often leave us feeling lethargic and unwell, making us crash in the case of sugary foods, and dehydrating us when it comes to coffee. They’re a temporary solution rather than a lasting one because these conditions add to stress.

The better option is to choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, and that are hydrating. These choices fuel our brain and help us think clearly. With focus, stress will be more easily overcome.

Need ideas about what to eat?

Choose these:

  • Complex carbs like whole grains
  • High fiber foods like fruit and veggies
  • Lean protein like chicken, turkey, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon

Avoid these:

  • High-fat dairy and meats
  • Refined carbs like sugar, white rice, white bread
  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda
  • Nicotine (a stimulant that raises anxiety)
  • Alcohol (a natural depressant)

Plan ahead for the times you’ll need a quick bite to eat. Prep quick meals and snacks so they’ll be ready for you to enjoy and fuel your body.

Try things like:

  • Chia puddings
  • Infused waters
  • Salads (with olive oil or lemon juice on the side and a pinch of salt)
  • Kale chips
  • Nuts and seeds (a handful)
  • Dark chocolate (1-inch square)

These are the big three to help you get started with stress management. There are many other things you can do once you’ve mastered these. You can meditate, journal, practice gratefulness, be present in the moment, learn to say no, avoid procrastination, spend time with your pet, give back and volunteer, laugh, rest, and practice self-care.

Start by shedding light on your stress and identifying the stressors, activate relaxation with breathing exercises, connect with trusted friends, hydrate, and fuel your body and you’ll be well on your way to managing the stress in your life.


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