Stress management is a skill everyone must learn. Whether stress stems from school, work, relationships or a health condition, managing it in a healthy way becomes critical, especially in trying times.
There are many ways to manage stress, including through physical activity, mental stimulation and emotional care. Some stress management activities can even be implemented anywhere at any time. To find ways to tackle stress, read on.
If you’re the type to exert yourself through physical exercise, these tips can help recenter your mind. After all, taking care of the physical body is part of taking care of your mental and emotional health, too.
Take a Long Walk
Getting the body in motion can have substantial effects on stress relief. It’s the perfect, natural serotonin booster that also helps your body. In fact, physical activity is proven to increase endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote “feel-good” emotions. Some people take frequent walks to “clear” their heads or spend time in nature. To relieve stress, taking a break and physically walking away from a stressful situation or project can do wonders to the brain and body.
Most people aim for 30 minutes of physical activity per day. If the weather is too cold to walk outside, simply practice a short workout routine in your living room. Just be sure to actively move your body around for a set amount of time each day.
Play with a Pet
Animals have a positive effect on human emotions and health. Think about it: why do people visit zoos or adopt furry pets? Playing with a pet not only gets you out of your head, but it provides an opportunity for you to physically move alongside a furry friend.
If you do not have a pet, ask a friend or neighbor to pet their dog or feed their fish. Chances are, the interaction will also foster more communication with the community around you.
Centering the breath is a simple way to reduce stress. You can practice deep breathing anywhere, anytime. The best way to practice deep breathing involves the 4-7-8 method, with these steps:
- Inhale for four full counts.
- Hold the breath for seven full counts.
- Exhale the breath for eight full counts.
Practice the 4-7-8 method until you can feel your heart rate slow down. This method can also be used at nighttime to promote restfulness.
Practice Good Hygiene
Part of reducing stress involves practicing physical self care. As much as possible, take care of these physical needs daily:
- Get enough sleep each night. Adults typically required eight hours each night.
- Nourish the body with healthy foods and plenty of water.
- Wash/bathe the body.
- Brush teeth.
- Keep up-to-date with appointments.
Stimulating the brain is key to maintaining good mental health. Learning new skills or escaping in literature are easy ways to steer the mind towards productive thoughts and activities and can improve motivation.
Learn Something New
Trying out a new skill or hobby is a great way to redirect negative energy. For instance, if you are feeling overwhelmed, try redirecting your feelings toward a new skill you’ve been wanting to develop. Cooking a new recipe or learning a new language are two great ways to reduce stress and make stress management activities more fun. Not only are they redirecting thoughts and actions, but they are also providing you with new, useful information that you can use in the future.
Read a Book or Magazine
Books and magazines are gateways to stories and the outside world. Instead of scrolling through social media during a work break or before bed, try reading a book or magazine instead. Allow each chapter or story to take you to a different place.
Print media, like books and magazines, also have the ability to foster compassion and imagination through telling both visual and expanded stories. You can even share your thoughts on a book or magazine article with friends as a conversation starter.
Watch a Movie
Watching a movie can act as a quick stress relief mechanism. Not only do movies transform us to a different setting, but they also provide a story to follow. And, making time for entertainment is critical, especially for people who suffer with chronic stress.
Listen to Calming Music
Try a soothing music playlist if you’re feeling stressed. Or, if you can’t focus on a project at work and you’re stressed about it, playing some background music could help.
Music is also a great resource for stress relief in that, it can bring people together. Whether you’re at a concert with friends or at home listening to your favorite musician, you can benefit from the different melodies and lyrics of individual songs.
Seek Professional Help
Stress can manifest into serious health issues, including various psychological disorders and even physical health problems. If left untreated, stress can do extreme harm on the body and the mind.
Counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists work to treat stress in all types of circumstances, including situational stress, chronic stress or stress related to various health disorders. Seeking help from these clinicians can be the first step towards finding long-term stress reduction. Clinicians can provide healthy coping mechanisms that will counteract and alter unhealthy habits, thoughts and feelings and ultimately reduce and regulate stress to a manageable level.
Taking care of our emotional well-being is critical in order to thrive physically and mentally. At the heart of emotional strength is being in touch with our emotions and cultivating community. Below are some stress management activities to help with your emotions.
Call a Friend
Friends are chosen family. Stress can tear friendships apart, or they can bind them together. Sometimes, the best thing to do when stress reaches a heightened level is to phone a friend. Not only are friends good listeners, but they also can make us laugh and reflect on happy times spent together. Plus, calling a friend is a signal that you value your relationship with them.
A journal can act as a private sanctuary for thoughts, goals and even worries. Keeping a journal can also have a positive long-term impact on emotional health.
For starters, try keeping a journal or two to jot down your feelings. One very important aspect of keeping a journal for stress relief is writing down positive things that impact day-to-day life. Practicing gratitude through journaling is a great way to remind ourselves of the many things that are good in our lives, whether they be people, memories, resources or good health.
Accept & Name Your Emotions
Sometimes, the root of arguments or severe stress stems from not knowing the emotions behind them. If you notice your stress levels peaking, make an effort to take time to sort through your feelings. This practice goes hand-in-hand with journaling. In a journal, jot down the emotions you feel that relate to your stress. They may be difficult emotions to accept, but know that every single emotion experienced has a reason for being there. Acknowledging your emotions is one of the best, yet most difficult, stress management activities around.
Compassion goes a long way. Not only is it important to strive towards being compassionate towards others, but it is also critical to be compassionate towards ourselves. For people who have survived trauma or lived with intense medical conditions, compassion can be a difficult emotion to reach. Compassion, however, is at the center of healing and can result in reduced stress.
To show more compassion try:
- Looking at the big picture of conversations and events.
- Meeting someone from where they are at physically and emotionally.
- Accepting, not negating, your feelings for what they are.
Discomfort can manifest both physically and emotionally. And, increased stress can make discomfort worse. As much as possible, make working and home conditions as comfortable as possible. This can be achieved by staying in touch with your body and its needs. Dress comfortably for work, and give yourself time to relax at the end of each day. No matter what kind of time crunch you may be on, creating healthy breaks can increase your comfort and decrease your stress.
Stress is a part of life, but it should never compromise a person’s livelihood. If stress is severely impacting day-to-day life, it should be addressed in a health-professional setting. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical, but it is can be difficult with extreme stress. Addressing stress as it comes —through resources and stress management activities— can prevent it from developing into a chronic health issue.