Stress is a normal part of everyone’s life. Some stress is actually beneficial. However, chronic stress is detrimental to both your mental and physical health.
Headaches, high blood pressure, and depression are just a few of the results of experiencing long-lasting high levels of stress.
However, stress is unavoidable. How you handle stress makes the difference between feeling happy and in control of your life versus feeling miserable and unable to cope with the demands life is throwing at you.
Rather than letting stress take control of your life, here are 10 helpful tips to help you avoid and reduce your stress levels.
1. Begin Your Day with Meditation
Studies show that meditation is an excellent way to start your day and results in an improved emotional well-being. People who start their day with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation remain calmer throughout the day and are better able to handle stressful situations. The best thing is that meditation can be done anywhere without any special equipment.
2. Avoid Technology for Part of Your Day
Technology has taken over our lives. We are constantly inundated and it often leads to feelings of being overwhelmed. Try taking a fifteen-minute break from all technology each day. If you can, find a quiet spot where you can sit back and close your eyes and just tune out the world for a few minutes. It is amazing what that short break from the rest of the world can do to help us handle everything else going on in our lives.
3. Do Something You Love
The stressful aspects of life are much easier to handle when the rest of your life is filled with things you love. Make sure you take some time each day to do something you love, whatever that might be. If you love reading, even better, as studies show that reading a fiction book is one of the best ways to lower your stress levels, even if only reading for a short period of time. Remember that taking some time for yourself each day allows you to function better, deal with stress more effectively, and be a better version of yourself.
4. Eat Healthy and Exercise
Eating a healthy diet that supplies you with all of your daily nutritional needs helps provide protection against stress. A healthy diet includes omega-3’s, vegetables, whole grains and fruits.
Exercise promotes mental and physical health. As you exercise, the brain produces hormones called endorphins. Endorphins help us feel happy, so exercise away.
5. Recognize Necessary vs. Unnecessary Stressors
We all have stressors that are unavoidable, bills that need to be paid, a looming project deadline, a fight with a spouse, illness, etc. However, we need to learn to recognize which stressors are necessary and which are not. If being with a certain friend is causing your stress then it time to stop spending time with that friend. If turning on the news is causing your stress, then turn to a different channel. Debt is also a major source of stress and avoiding credit card debt is extremely helpful in reducing stress levels.
6. Focus on What You Can Control
Recognize what is within your control and focus on that. You can work on those details. You cannot change what your boss is going to do today and what the weather will bring. Trying to control the uncontrollable only adds to your stress level, so let those things go. Take the time to determine which stressors you do have control over and focus on how to handle or release those stressors. Come up with strategies for dealing with that stress, whether it is confronting a person about their behaviour, changing your own behaviour, or avoiding a certain situation.
7. Manage Your Time Effectively
Lack of time is one of our greatest stressors. How often have you wished that there were more hours in your day? Yet, some people seem to manage accomplishing a great deal more within their day. Remember, their day lasts the same 24 hours as yours does. Time the time to plan your day and use your time efficiently.
Despite the fact that it often feels like there are not enough hours in a day, sleep is vital for both your mental and physical health. Taking the time to get a good night’s sleep helps you work more productively during your waking hours. Promoting a good night’s sleep involves maintaining a regular sleep routine, including going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time each day. Try to avoid TV, computer, and phone screens for an hour before turning out the lights and block out light in the bedroom with heavy curtains or a night mask.
Talking with someone when you are feeling overwhelmed helps reduce your stress load. Get the opinion of a family member or close friend. Seeing the situation from another perspective can help you better understand exactly what is happening and the best way to handle the situation. If you truly feel like you are completely losing control then it is time to talk to your doctor or a psychologist. Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but is actually a sign of strength, demonstrating that you are strong enough to recognize your limitations and turn to someone else for help.
10. Stay in the Moment
Many of us have the tendency to focus on things that happened in the past or things that have not yet happened. This only increases our stress load as we include both the past and future stressors with the present. Focus on the present, as these are the stressors we can deal with now. Let the others go; you have no control over them.
Reducing stress allows us to take full advantage of our lives. Stop living in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed. It is never too late to take back control of your life from that entity called stress.