Stress is an unavoidable fact of life. However, learning how to manage stress in positive, practical ways can help make its impact on your life less drastic. Here are 5 tips to help you keep your stress levels under control.
Knowing what stresses you out may seem obvious, but it may not always be. It’s probably pretty easy for you to identify the major pieces of stress in our life: money, illness, relationship issues. But it may be less obvious what those little everyday stressors are.
Taking the time to write down the things that are bothering you throughout your day or week can be extremely insightful. Do you notice any patterns? Any items, tasks, or people that continuously show up? Look for those patterns. Once you’ve identified them, you will be able to find ways to alter or adapt to those situations.
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment and your feelings in that moment. As you practice mindfulness, your body becomes more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This allows you to take the time to think before you react, which can help you react to stress in a more calm, measured way. Your body has time to process situations and the people within them before you react to them. It has been scientifically shown to retrain your brain and the way your body reacts to stress.
Here’s a simple exercise to help you practice mindfulness: focus on your breathing. Pay attention to your body’s natural breathing rhythm and focus only on that. As you breathe, do your best to think only about your breathing. It may feel weird at first, or hard to concentrate on just breathing and not let your thoughts wander elsewhere. But, the more you practice this, the easier it will get. Try this exercise the next time you feel yourself start to get overwhelmed by the amount of stress you’re feeling.
Find A Physical Activity You Enjoy
There is a direct link between mental health and physical health. Stress can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical wellness, but physical exercise and activities can help counteract that. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins. Endorphins help reduce physical pain, help maintain healthy sleep patterns, decrease tension, and stabilize your mood. All of these are going to contribute to a reduction in stress levels.
Finding a physical activity that will get your heart pumping and exert you physically will help reduce stress in two ways. First, scientifically, your body will produce more endorphins whose benefits we already discussed. A second benefit is having an activity that you enjoy and can look forward to. View it as a healthy escape from your everyday (or even those rarer, larger) stressors.
Create To-Do Lists
One sign of stress is procrastination or inability to focus on tasks. One way to manage this side effect of stress is to create to-do lists. Write down all the things you know you need to do, big or small. Set small, attainable goals for yourself to help conquer those lists. Organization of those lists can and should vary by person. You may organize them by day, by priority, or by due date. Know yourself and what you need to do to feel like you are taking control of the tasks set before you.
Find Healthy Ways To Vent, Then Move On
Sometimes you just need to talk to someone about the things that are stressing you out. It’s not only normal, but healthy. When we stress we are processing our feelings about a stressor in real time with someone we trust. Finding those trusted people who will listen, help you process, and even give advice when needed can be a huge stress reliever for us.
This all comes with a word of caution, however. Let your venting be both productive and non-repetitive. Letting your frustrations out into the world to a trusted co-worker, friend, or family member once is healthy venting. Going to as many people as you can to complain about an issue is probably going to increase your anxiety or stress levels because you’re now getting stuck on it. It may be hard, but ask for your trusted listeners to hold you accountable.