Everyone feels stress. It’s a part of life that you’ll experience at one point or another. And, while you can’t always prevent it from happening, there are a few things you can do to manage it, so it doesn’t ruin your day.
Because of how hectic and fast-paced life is, managing stress has become increasingly challenging. The thing is, stress itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s your body’s way of warning you that something important or dangerous is about to happen. And, your stress response allows you to act appropriately to handle it.
However, stress becomes a problem if it gets chronic. Not only can it be overwhelming, but it can also negatively affect your health.
So, to keep this from happening, here are a few simple yet effective ways you can relieve stress.
Get Enough Sleep
You’ve probably noticed that you’re more irritable, moody and tired after a poor night’s sleep. All these things make you more susceptible to stress.
What makes it worse is that being stressed makes it harder to fall asleep later that night. As a result, you end up tossing and turning in bed or worrying about some problems you have.
When this happens, it turns into a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
One of the reasons sleep helps reduce stress is it regulates your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that kicks into action when you experience stressful situations. It triggers your “fight or flight” response allowing you to tackle whatever’s in front of you. This is why you feel more alert, have more energy and can act faster during emergency situations.
It is for this reason that sleep is very important if you want to keep your stress levels in check.
So how much sleep you do need?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This gives your body enough time to relax, repair, and regulate itself in order to function properly. It also allows you to wake up relaxed and refreshed ready to take on the new day.
Meditation and Deep Breathing
Another way to reduce stress fast is to practice some simplerelaxation techniques. You can use these methods when you feel a stressful event coming up. Better yet, practicing them of a regular basis helps increase your resilience to stressful situations.
This makes you less affected when you anticipate something stressful about to occur. It also lets you manage that stress better when it actually hits. Doing so not only allows you to relax but also control your emotions so you don’t end up doing something you’ll regret later on.
Among the many relaxation techniques around, I’ve found that two of the simplest things anyone can do are meditation and deep breathing. I like them because you can do them anywhere and you only need a few minutes before they take effect.
- Meditation is the practice of focusing on one single thing. This can be an object, activity or thought. In doing so, it helps your mind practice control and awareness. It is also the reason why meditating is very effective for controlling stress and anxiety. Just 5 to 10 minutes a day will help your brain calm down and relax from all the things happening around you. In doing so, you’re able to relax and start over with a clear mind after.
- Deep Breathing.Like meditation, this may not look like much at first. But, it is one of the most effective ways of calming down during a stressful event. Deep breathing exercises like slowly inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for another 4 seconds repetitively is one of the fastest ways I’ve found to calm yourself down and relax.
In addition to the relaxation techniques above, physical activity is another great way to fight stress. This may sound a bit ironic since you’re trying to reduce stress by increasing the amount of physical stress on your body. But, it works.
That’s because exercise, or any physical activity for that matter, causes many chemical reactions that help your mind and body decrease its stress levels. These include:
- Lowering your stress hormones.Physical activities like running, brisk walking or playing sports cause your body’s stress hormone levels to decline. This includes cortisol. Better yet, it also boosts other hormones like endorphins. This is why you often feel more energized after working out instead of being more fatigued.
- Sleep better.In addition to its immediate effects, exercise also offers many long-term health benefits, among them being better sleep. As a result, you’ll not only be able to fall asleep faster, you’ll also enjoy better quality rest through the night.
- Boosting your mood and making you feel better about yourself.Finally, exercise helps you feel more confident about yourself. Physical activity lets you lose weight and tones your muscles. In doing so, you not only feel better but look better as well. Both of which are important when it comes to self-esteem and self-confidence.
Monitor Your Coffee Intake
If you make it a habit to enjoy a few cups of coffee during the day, you may want to monitor how much caffeine you’re consuming.
High levels of caffeine have been shown to increase stress and anxiety. This is the reason why some people feel jittery after a few cups. That said, caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person.
As such, it’s important to observe how your body reacts to caffeine. This will let you know how much coffee you can drink before it starts to affect your stress levels.
Lastly, do note that coffee is often the first thing we think of when we talk about caffeine. However, many other foods and beverages also contain caffeine including tea, candies and some chocolate products. Together, their cumulative effects can make you feel jittery and anxious.
We all love our gadgets and gizmos. They allow us to be more productive and stay connected with everyone we know.
But, like all things, technology comes at a cost.
Because they allow us to have everything at our fingertips, it’s easy to get addicted to them. If you’re like me, you probably find it hard to be away from your smartphone for a long period of time. For some people, the experience can be downright stressful.
Unfortunately, this addiction is also what causes us stress and anxiety. Here are some reasons why.
- They’re a constant distraction.Like most parents, this is something I’ve had to deal with at the dinner table. The kids are always on their phones, be it texting their friends, surfing the web or going through their social media. I’m sure you’ve likewise experienced something like this in one way or another.
- They mess with your sleep.I talked about sleep earlier. And, when it comes to bedtime, it’s often hard to resist that one final check before going to bed. Whether it’s your email, social media or tomorrow’s weather, we somehow find an excuse to check our phones before going to bed. The problem is, it’s hard to put them down. More importantly, exposure to blue light, which is emitted from your phone’s, tablet’s or laptop’s screen disrupts your body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. As a result, it becomes harder to fall asleep.
- Comparing yourself with others.This is one of the reasons why social media increases stress and makes many people unhappy. Because everyone seems to only share the best things in their lives, it’s easy to feel inferior or think that your life isn’t as great as theirs. However, the reality is that many of these images and videos have been planned way ahead of time and edited to produce their desirable effects.
- Fear of missing out.Better known as FOMO, this is something that always being online can make you feel. Because you’re aware that something’s always happening, you feel that fear of missing out on some opportunity or experience. As a result, it causes stress and anxiety.
This is why it’s important to unplug from technology once in a while. This allows you to get away from the digital world so that you can enjoy and appreciate everything around you, including your family, friends, and things you like to do.
Stress is inevitable. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. By practicing a few simple stress management techniques and making some changes in your lifestyle, you’ll be able to reduce your stress levels so that you can enjoy life to its fullest.
About the Author
Emma is the editor at Healthgrinder.com where she writes about health-related topics, from how to improve your sleep habits, keeping your home cleanand eating healthy. She is proud mom of two young kids and a very spoiled dog, enjoys traveling and volunteering in her spare time.