Let’s face it: modern life is stressful.
Whether it’s work deadlines or financial worries or trying to keep your personal life in order, it feels like we’re always stressed about something in our lives.
And when left unchecked, stress can take a toll on our physical health and emotional well-being. When we’re stressed, we can experience:
It's important to find ways to deal with our stress and restore our energy and mental bandwidth. Not only will stress management make us feel better, but it’s vital for our health and future.
Below are simple techniques and strategies you can use to help you manage and relieve stress.
Manage stress with a soothing self-care routine
When you’re feeling stressed about something, it’s even more essential to make time for a self-care routine. Otherwise, it’s hard to shake off the fight and flight mode that you experience during stressful moments.
Self-care may conjure images of expensive spa treatments or induce feelings of guilt and selfishness, but it’s essential to our well-being. It’s no different from professional athletes who incorporate a recovery routine after a competition or workout. Their recovery routine ensures that they get enough rest before their next challenge, so that they don’t risk injury or burnout.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to deserve a recovery period. After experiencing moments of high stress, it’s important to consciously set aside time to relax and restore our energy.
Here are some self-care ideas below. Assess how you’re feeling and decide how you would like to spend your time.
- Go for a run. Sweating it out will help you release all those pent up emotions and the endorphins you get after a workout will leave you feeling so good.
- Sleep. Yes, sleep totally counts as self-care. Whether it’s taking a weekend nap or developing a calming night-time routine, good sleep habits are key to managing stress.
- Gratitude journal. Taking a moment to slow down and reflect on all the good in our lives can help shift our perspective and feel so restorative. You can incorporate gratitude journaling into your morning or evening routine to help round out your day.
Mindfulness techniques to deal with stress
When we’re stressed about something, our mind is usually racing with a million thoughts. We imagine worst case scenarios or dwell on mistakes we’ve made in the past.
But by practicing mindfulness, we are able to shift our mindset to the present, which can help alleviate stress.
Meditation. You don’t need to book a meditation retreat in order to experience the immense benefits of meditation. Even five minutes can help you relieve stress and bring your attention back into the present moment. By focusing on one breath at a time, and bringing your awareness to different areas of your body, you can relieve tension and reduce stress.
Journaling. If you’re feeling stressed, chances are that you’re also having a hard time putting your finger on what exactly it is you’re stressed about.
When we’re stressed, our emotions tend to feel intense and abstract. It’s hard to articulate what’s bothering us or define what’s making us feel overwhelmed.
Journaling can help us express ourselves and organize our messy thoughts.
When we keep things in our head, everything looks big and overwhelming. But after writing it all down, and seeing everything on paper, you gain a new perspective. The situation may seem less worrisome and more manageable.
By simply putting pen to paper, we may get to the root of the problem, and even discover possible solutions.
In addition, writing it all out can be a huge relief, like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Instead of holding everything in and keeping a stiff upper lip–which can make you feel more stressed in the long run–you finally have a way to release all those feelings.
All you need is a notebook, a pen, and time alone to get started. If you’re unsure where to begin or feeling intimidated by a blank page, you can try using a prompt to help spur you on.
Coloring. There’s a reason that coloring is so popular with kids. It’s simple and fun enough that it keeps us occupied for long stretches of time, but not too challenging that it makes us want to quit.
Coloring is a mindful activity that can help you focus on the task at hand. You’re concentrating on shading and blending colors, filling in the shapes, so that your mind doesn’t have a chance to drift out and get distracted.
Recite a mantra. When we’re feeling stressed, the voices in our head can be so overwhelmingly negative and critical. It’s important to balance those voices out with positive self-talk. Our inner voice is the voice we hear most often. We might as well train it to say something good!
Pick a mantra or inspiring quote that soothes you. Then, during times of stress, take a moment to repeat the mantra. You can write it down, say it loud, or under your breath. Even something simple like “this moment is temporary” can help tame a stressful moment.
Check in with yourself
We regularly take our vehicles in for an assessment, why not give the same attention and care into our bodies?
At the end of the day or week, try checking in with yourself and assess where you’re at.
You can ask yourself:
- How am I feeling?
- Are I eating well? Getting enough veggies?
- Am I sleeping well?
- When was the last time I did something nice for myself?
- When was the last time I did something social?
Maybe you’ll find that you’ve been so busy at work that you’ve been relying on sugary foods to sustain you. Now that you’ve taken note, you can adjust and make a point of adding more healthy meals. Or maybe you’ve noticed that you’ve been going to bed late and that it’s been making you feel groggy throughout the week. Now you’ll be more mindful about your evening routine going forward.
While we can’t always prevent stress in our life, a regular check-in can help us identify what areas need our attention and help us manage our stress better in the long run.