August 16, 2022

How can you effectively manage stress?

Stress is a part of life. Yet, long-term and chronic exposure to it can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. It's important to learn how to manage stress effectively.

Stress is your brain's reaction to an external situation that you have no control over. The first way to manage this uncomfortable energy is to let go & acknowledge that obsessing over something won’t make it better. From this point, you will feel calmer and ready to make better decisions.

Stress is a part of life. It happens to everyone on an occasional basis, and it can also be a chronic thing. In either case, it can be extremely detrimental to your health and well-being, so it's important to learn how to manage stress effectively.

Stress can be caused by many factors and having some control over how you manage that stress is key to living a happy and healthy life. The first thing that you need to do is recognize the signs of stress. This will allow you to prepare in advance for what your body needs when this happens. It is important to develop healthy habits during normal times so that when those stressful times hit, you are prepared physically and mentally.

We all experience stress differently, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. While there are plenty of strategies that work for many people, everyone will benefit from experimenting with different approaches until they find what works best for them.

Here are some ways to manage your stress. Try and find out which one works for you best.

Meditation and relaxation

As with many healthy habits, meditation takes time and consistency to yield results. The goal is to get into the habit of meditating every day or every other day so that it becomes a regular part of your routine. Why not start simple? You can find guided meditation recordings on YouTube or apps like Calm or Headspace, which are designed to help you get started. It can be helpful to set aside a specific time each day as your meditation window.

When you're first starting out, keeping it simple is key: find a quiet space where you won't be interrupted by either your surroundings or technology and set a timer for 20 minutes or so. You don't need anything fancy—just yourself and your ability to focus on your breathing without getting distracted by wandering thoughts.

Slow down or take a break

When you feel stressed, it's natural to want to do something about it—and in today's fast-paced world, that often means taking quick action. But the stress-reduction techniques that work best are often the ones that require time and patience.

You'll be surprised at how much better you feel when you stop and take a few deep breaths. The simple act of slowing down your breathing can lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Taking a break from whatever you're doing will give your mind a chance to rest and reset, which can also help relieve stress.

Nourish your body

Your body could also be the best place to start. There are plenty of things that can cause stress besides a demanding job, like an unhealthy diet or lack of regular exercise. If it's been a while since you've eaten something healthy or taken a walk outside, now is the perfect time to make some changes.

Try getting some vegetables into your meals every day, whether by adding a salad to every meal or by cooking some vegetables with every dinner (and maybe snacking on carrots in between). Be sure that you're getting enough sleep every night (7–8 hours is recommended—and yes, it's recommended no matter how busy you are) and give yourself at least one full day off from work each week. Also try doing some light exercise for at least 15 minutes every day, even if it's just walking around the block or doing stretches while watching your favorite show on TV.

Connect with others

When you're stressed, getting together with people who care about you and will listen to your concerns can make a world of difference. It's healthy to vent to a friend or family member—this can be especially helpful if they're not directly involved in the situation that's stressing you out. Sometimes, just having someone else there to listen and provide support can put your problems in perspective and give you the strength you need to power through them.

In some cases, even just having someone else there (especially when they're not part of what's stressing you out) can remind you that there are people in your life who care about you and want to help you feel better. Having friends around to celebrate with when good things happen can also take some of the pressure off when bad things happen.

Accept things out of your control

It can be really hard to accept that some things are out of your control. Maybe you feel like you would have been able to do better if you had only tried harder; maybe you think it's your responsibility to ensure the well-being of everyone around you. But sometimes, no matter how much we'd like to believe otherwise, we can't always make things turn out the way we want them to.

The best way to deal with stress is to let go of any expectations that you have over yourself and others—just because something had a certain outcome in your mind doesn't mean it had to happen that way or else something bad would have happened. Some unexpected things might not turn out exactly how you hoped they would. When this happens, take a moment to think about why this may have happened, then accept it for what it was—at the end of the day, if people or ourselves disappoint us or things don't work out the way we thought they would, it's not because there was something wrong with us or because of something we did (or didn't do). It's just one of those things that happen sometimes in life.

Spend your time wisely

The thing is, no matter what kind of stress management methods you use, they can only be more effective when you know how to spend your time wisely in the first place.

The key is to find the right balance. Start by scheduling a time to worry about your worries. This can be daily or weekly, depending on how much time you have available. As it is, acknowledging what worries or stresses you out can be the first step in taking action. Get up a little earlier in the morning so that you can squeeze in extra exercise or meditation before work. Take your lunch break at a park or at a museum instead of in front of the TV or computer. Give yourself plenty of time to get home so that you don't have to rush back and therefore end up doing nothing but thinking about how busy you are when you get home.

Take your time and do things at your own pace, however, you are comfortable. Settling into a routine that you can manage and are happy with can make a difference. Also, remember to give yourself some grace when you are not always able to follow this or things do not go exactly according to plan.

Now, with one step at a time, taking every day slowly, try to pick one of these methods and incorporate it into your daily routine. Find what works for you and stick to it. Remember to be honest with yourself about what does not sit well with you and gives you stress. Removing it or walking away from it can be the answer to a peaceful inner state.