Becoming overwhelmed and stressed out at times is inevitable.
While stress can create adrenaline and help meet important deadlines, built-up stress has adverse health consequences that affect many of the bodily systems.
Unless you learn how to manage your stress, you'll suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically. Managing your stress can take some practice, but it is possible.
April is National Stress Awareness Month - a time to reflect on our own levels and causes of stress and learn how to manage them.
In this blog, we'll discuss ten tips to cope with stress.
10 Tips to Learn How to Manage Stress
Get regular physical exercise
Learn and practice relaxation techniques
Change your attitude
Learn how to say 'no'
Journal about your stress
Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar consumption
Talk to others
Make it a priority to do something you enjoy
Smile and laugh
1. Get Regular Physical Exercise
The familiar "fight or flight" response is still activated when we feel stressed. More adrenaline and cortisol are generated to prepare us for action.
Physical exercise metabolizes these excess stress hormones and restores the body to a calm, relaxed state. Any exercise is better than none at all.
Try to exercise three to five times a week for half an hour. If you can, include vigorous exercise like swimming or jogging to get your heart rate up and running.
Stress awareness tip! When you start feeling overwhelmed, take a quick, brisk walk to clear your mind.
2. Learn and Practice Relaxation Techniques
Adrenaline can cause an overwhelming feeling that takes over your body. When you're starting to feel this way, pause and try to settle your mind with relaxation techniques.
Begin taking deep breaths. Repeat for up to a minute, and if it still isn't working, try to stimulate your senses. Find something you can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear and concentrate on whatever that may be.
Combining these relaxation techniques with yoga and meditation will help lower your pulse rate, respiration, blood pressure, and overall stress levels.
3. Change Your Attitude
Everyone experiences stress, how you manage it makes the difference - and it starts with a positive attitude.
Easier said than done, right?
Maintaining a positive attitude is difficult, but negativity can significantly increase tension.
For instance, your stress may be triggered by a problem you think is impossible to solve. Try writing down your question and come up with as many solutions as possible. Write down the pros and cons of each one. Once you have settled on a possible solution, note all the steps you will need to take to put it into action.
This process can help you get out of a negative, panic-stricken state of mind and puts the rational part of your brain back in control.
4. Learn How to Say 'No'
A common cause of stress is too much on your plate. Often, we create our own stress because we can't say "no." We take on additional responsibilities even when we know we don't have time for them.
Try to understand why you find it difficult to say "no." You have to know and accept your limits.
Stress awareness tip! While you don't have to respond with a blunt "no," you can learn how to set boundaries and put your mental health first.
5. Journal About Your Stress
Keeping a stress journal helps you learn how to manage your stress by making you more aware of situations that cause it.
Make note of the date, time, and place when you feel stressed out. Perhaps you could give each occasion a stress rating on a scale of one to ten. Note what you were doing at the time and who you were with.
Use this journal to try to understand your personal stress triggers. Identify activities you can modify or eliminate. Think of ways you could handle stressful situations differently and coping techniques you could use.
6. Reduce Caffeine, Alcohol, and Refined Sugar Consumption
While this can be a hard habit to break, try to reduce your consumption of drinks containing caffeine or alcohol. These are stimulants, so they increase your stress levels.
Alcohol is commonly associated with alleviating stress. While the short-term effects make you feel relaxed, using alcohol only increases stress in the long run.
Try to replace alcohol or caffeinated drinks with water, natural fruit juices, and herbal teas.
Additionally, refined sugars are well-known for giving your body a temporary boost and then causing an energy crash, leaving you feeling tired and irritable. A healthy, nutritious, and well-balanced diet goes a long way towards helping you to cope with stress.
7. Talk to Others
Expressing your feelings to others can help to reduce your stress levels. When you feel stressed, take a break and call a friend. A reassuring voice that makes you feel nurtured and understood will help you keep your problems in perspective.
If you don't want to talk to family members or friends, talking to a therapist may help.
If talking to someone else is not an option, then giving yourself a little pep talk may help.
Research suggests every thought and emotion can release chemicals into our bodies. Negative self-talk is damaging. Encourage and motivate yourself as a reminder that you can handle the situation and everything will be okay.
8. Make it a Priority to do Something You Enjoy
Some people enjoy pursuing hobbies like music, art, or gardening. Others find enjoyment in solitary activities like meditation or walking.
Stress awareness tip! Don't give up on your favorite activities because of the stress and pressure in your life.
Taking a break and listening to some relaxing music or pulling up some weeds in the garden may be exactly what you need. The break will allow you to return to a stressful situation with a different perspective and a renewed state of mind.
9. Smile and Laugh
While maintaining a positive attitude is easier said than done, laughter goes a long way to reducing stress. Laughter is a natural remedy to release endorphins and decrease excess levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
Laughing can trick your nervous system into making you feel happy. Try to watch your favorite comedy and feel your stress leave as you laugh your way through it.
10. Sleep Better
Stress can affect your ability to sleep, but lack of sleep is also a fundamental cause of stress. It's a vicious cycle that's hard to break.
Try turning off the TV earlier, dimming the lights, and giving yourself some time to unwind and relax before going to bed. Getting enough sleep is essential to fuel your mind and body.
If you feel exhausted, it may cause you to think irrationally, and this only increases your stress.
Finding a Solution for You
You may find that going for a walk doesn't help your stress, but journaling does. Sometimes you may prefer to sleep with the TV on.
Finding how to manage stress for yourself is important. Discovering which process is best can be difficult, but once you find the best method, you'll feel much better in the long run.
Reducing Stress & Making a Change
If you experience stress in your own life or you know other people who are stressed, you should take the time to make a positive change. This could include implementing relaxation techniques or talking to those around you.
Stress Awareness Month is a great opportunity to start some serious conversations about how to reduce stress, but you shouldn't stop talking about it when April has come and gone.
Keep the Conversation Going
Summit Medical Group now offers in-house mental therapy and teletherapy. If you or someone you know are experiencing social, emotional, or behavioral issues, reach out to a Summit provider today to continue the conversation on reducing stress.