We all know that stress adversely affects our bodies and our lives. There are any number of sources of stress – at home, at work, in your relationships, finances, career, health, you name it. Stress can cause weight loss or more typically weight gain, headaches, stomach aches, digestive problems, heart problems, and many other health ailments, which of course will only add to stress levels. We literally stress out over being stressed out sometimes! Stress is impossible to avoid, and that is why it is so important to be able to develop coping strategies and deal with stress head-on.
So what can you do to alleviate stress in your life? Even the most stressed of the stressed can adopt stress-relieving strategies to improve your health, mood, and life in general. The following are tips to keep in your repertoire of coping strategies.
Manage Your Time
Learning how to manage your time effectively and plan ahead can help you avoid many unwanted surprises and give you more control over your daily schedule. When you start having a better grasp of your schedule, you will know when you will have time for things that pop up unexpectedly and what you have going on that you can move to another time slot to deal with emergencies that arise on short notice. Becoming more organized can help you streamline all the things you deal with on a day to day basis and keep you from feeling rushed, which creates more stress. Eventually, once you get a handle on your time and all the tasks you have to fill your calendar with, you will settle into a routine that you’ll feel more comfortable with and find that everything will become much more manageable. If chaos equals stress, order equals stress management.
You’ll see this on any stress management article, and that’s because it’s important and it works. Sometimes, you have to hit the pause button, inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds, slow your heart rate a little bit, and ask yourself what you need right now. You’ve heard these tips before, so it’s time to dust them off and put them to use. Take a relaxing bath or shower, light some candles, take in a soothing scent. Drink a nice glass of wine. Grab one of those stress balls, back scratchers or scalp massagers, give yourself a hand or foot massage, or better yet, ask someone else to give you a nice soothing massage. Drink a hot cup of stress relief tea. Do some stretches, yoga, or meditation. Get lost in a good book or your favorite TV show. Make sure that your home is a place you can retreat to and a source of comfort. Sometimes you just need to step away from the stressful situation for a moment to regroup yourself and your thoughts or take a break from thinking about it completely. Sometimes you need to get your heart rate lowered to reduce the adrenaline rush that too much stress can sometimes overload your brain with making it impossible to think rationally or make good decisions.
Exercising is a very successful way to relieve stress. When you exercise, endorphins release into your body that make you feel good and happy. It enhances your mood significantly, and has also been shown to be just as effective as medication in alleviating depression! If you don’t think exercise is for you, I challenge you to give kick-boxing a try on a day that you have reached and exceeded your frustration capacity. When something is weighing heavily on your mind, go out for a walk or run around a park or even the sidewalks in your neighborhood (or use a good ol’ treadmill like me). I was never a runner growing up. In fact, I used to say I just wasn’t put together for running with my knock-knees, and the way my lungs burned when I even tried to run was enough to keep me from even trying. But then one day, I had a friend (who happened to be a personal trainer and professional running coach) teach me how to run. Now, I love it, and I finally understand the concept of the “runner’s high.” This is one of my main go-to practices for relieving stress now. It’s exhilarating, and it’s something I have been able to actually see my progress in. I’ll never forget the first time I was able to run a straight mile without stopping to rest. That was a long way from where I started, when I would walk with my headphones on and barely be able to make it through the chorus of one song running. Seeing tangible achievements and results is very motivating and self-esteem building, which also releases those feel-good endorphins that help improve your mood.
Make a Stress Relief Kit
Put together a stress relief kit for yourself or as a gift to someone you know could use it. Keep it at work, in your car, or wherever it can be easily accessible when the stress hits the fan. A stress kit can include things like:
- Aromatherapy envelope or candle
- Back Scratcher or Massager
- Scalp Massager
- Squishy Stress Ball
- Stress Relief Tea Bags
- Pamphlet of Stress Relieving Yoga poses and stretches
- Relaxing music playlist or CD
- Tums, Ibuprofen for psychosomatic symptoms of stress
- Sleep mask that heats or cools
- Ear Plugs
- Stress Relief Lotion
- Blank-paged Journal
What are some of your own stress-relieving strategies that you don’t mind sharing to help others with some ideas?