How many times have you broken out and blamed it on being busy, or a lack of sleep? Or noticed strands of hair on your pillow, and chalked it up to anxiety? That churning feeling in your stomach – was it something you ate, or is something else going on there?
Feeling on edge, frustrated, and moody is no fun for you or the people around you. When we feel stress. it’s so much more than being busy, or irritable. Feelings which stem from daily triggers can take their toll on us both mentally and physically, and we look for quick fixes to instantly relieve stress.
Most people don’t immediately put effective management strategies in place to deal with stress, and over time, this can contribute to health problems – even further than spots, hair loss, and stomach upsets. However, stress management can help you calm these feelings and help you to feel healthier, while preventing the negative effects of long-term stress.
These techniques will show you how to relieve stress, helping you to manage it in your day-to-day life and improve your overall mood.
1. Exercise and be active
Research suggests that exercise and being physically active improve how your body handles stress, as exercise influences neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) like serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which in turn boost your mood. Regular exercise can also help to improve your own self-image, and a boost in self-esteem is positive for your mental wellbeing. Exercise can also be a good opportunity to socialize, so for those with a busy work day, it can be a welcome break.
2. Create time for yourself
If you’re in search of techniques for how to release stress, ‘me time’ is one of the simplest and most rewarding. Doing something that you really enjoy, whether it be alone, or with others, is a great way to help you relieve day-to-day concerns and feel connected again. Socializing, relaxing, or taking up a new hobby – however you choose to spend your time, make it yours. Set aside a few hours a week where you can focus on yourself, and be free of work or other stress triggers.
3. Set achievable goals and challenges
One way to help you generate a positive outlook is by being realistic with the goals that you set yourself. If you’re constantly pushing yourself to achieve the unachievable, this can contribute to feelings of frustration, and ultimately, stress. Of course it’s important to challenge yourself and feel the competence and strength that comes with achieving your goals, but it’s a good idea to keep it real. Not trying to attempt the (almost) impossible could be beneficial for your stress levels.
4. Avoid unhealthy habits
While it might be tempting to reach for the cigarettes, alcohol, or caffeine to help you relieve stress levels, in the long term this isn’t the best way to deal with your stress. These habits might provide temporary relief, but they’ll be masking how you really feel rather than helping you tackle the problem.
5. Prioritize tasks
Working hard can be rewarding, but it can also contribute to our levels of stress. The key is to work smarter, prioritizing tasks and concentrating on the most important ones first. This will make a huge difference in how you work, and how you feel in relation to it – with the tasks that impact you the most out of the way, you’ll potentially feel less stress and likely be more productive, too!
You can even do the same in your personal life – prioritize your chores and tasks to make them more manageable. This will help you save time, help you feel less stressed, and perhaps even make you realize which tasks you can get rid of altogether!
6. Change your outlook
Are you a glass half empty, or glass half full type? You’d do better to be the second! If you have a positive outlook, it can make a difference in the way you handle tasks, the way you see life, and the way you interact with others. While it’s sometimes not easy, especially in the face of challenges and difficulties, focusing on the things you have rather than those you don’t can make you think more positively.
If you struggle to stay positive, at the beginning of the week, write out a list of three things you’re grateful for. Remember them if you’re having trouble staying upbeat – they’ll help you to stay focused.
7. Practice acceptance
Things didn’t go the way you planned them to? Don’t worry. The unexpected can disrupt our plans and goals, and we have no control over it. Instead of getting worked up about it, try to accept change when it comes your way. This will get you back on the right path to feeling in control and ready to face new challenges, rather than worrying about what should have happened.
8. Share your worries
As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Having someone you can count on for support and share your issues with helps a great deal in reducing stress – even if you don’t fill them in on every little detail. The simple fact that someone is there for you can be a great help in reducing your stress levels.
Above all, it’s good to remember that stress management isn’t a one-size-fits-all, and what works for you might not for someone else. It doesn’t matter how you relieve stress, but the important thing is to tackle it – take control of those feelings and focus on your wellbeing and you’ll be on your way to reducing stress in your day-to-day life.
Sources and references:
Jackson, EM. Stress Relief: The Role of Exercise in Stress Management. In The ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal (May/Jun 2013); Vol. 17, Issue 3:14-19.
NHS UK: Moodzone (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/)
The American Psychological Association (https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/)