We all have experienced some level of stress in our lives, whether it’s good or bad stress. Good stress can help you to meet daily challenges and accomplish tasks more efficiently. What we want to avoid is chronic stress. With our fast paced lives and high demands from our jobs, it is reported that 7 out of 10 adults experience stress daily. Prolonged stress can weaken the immune system and increase blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart diseases.
It’s not possible to avoid stress completely, but we can learn to manage it to live a happier life. Here are some ways I’ve learned to calm my body and mind.
1) Deep Breathing
When you’re feeling stressed, the first thing to do is to stop EVERYTHING and do NOTHING.
Just close your eyes and take 10 deep long breathes. This will only take you a minute or less and you can do it anywhere at anytime, even at your work desk.
Deep breathing helps to slow down your rhythm as it draws more oxygen into your brain, allowing you to calm down and relax. You will instantly feel better and it gives you mental clarity.
2) Start Writing Down What Stressed About
Have you noticed that when you’re stressed out, you can’t think clearly and everything is just a mess in your head. One of the simplest and most effective ways is to write and make a list of the things that are currently stressing you out.
Often times in our heads, it feels like the problems are endless, but when you write them down, you will realise that you CAN cope with them, one at a time. This has helped me to be more effective in my work and actually getting things done, rather that just worrying and doing nothing!
Tip: Set aside a few minutes every morning to write down your thoughts.
3) Reduce Caffeine After Certain Hours
Are you one of those people who needs your daily cup of coffee to be productive? Well, to some people it can help them to stay more alert, but to others, caffeine is a stimulant that causes our heart rate to increase and cause us to become jittery, which can increase your stress levels.
If you are trying to reduce your stress levels, you should avoid consuming caffeine after 2pm. This is because caffeine stays in your body for up to 8 hours and might cause you to have trouble falling asleep. Getting sufficient sleep is crucial for lowering stress levels.
Go for herbal tea instead, which has a soothing and calming effect.
One of my morning routines which have helped me with my anxiety is to practice 10 minutes of meditation. Everyone CAN do this, and you don’t necessarily need a specific mantra or to attempt to “clear your mind”, because just like some of you, the more I try, the more I struggle to quiet my mind. Just be in the moment.
Meditation has taught me to take control of my emotions, to manage my anxiety and to start my day feeling calming and more focused. Just 10 minutes every morning has increase my performance, putting me in a better mood and making me feel happier.
You can even add a prayer as part of your meditation. Speak to the universe, tell her how you’re feeling and set your intentions.
Tip: Meditate first thing in the morning to set your day right
5) Spend time with nature
These days we’re so engrossed with our smartphones and laptops not realising that stress can be caused by technology.
Give your brain some downtime, take a moment to unplug and spend time with nature. Nature has a healing effect to the body, mind and soul. Being exposed to sunlight also increases your brain production of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone.
Whether it’s walking along the beach, or in your neighbourhood park, just talk a long stroll and observe everything around you, without judging anything.
6) Spend Time with Your Pets
My personal favourite way to de-stress is to spend time with my dogs. My dogs keep me happy and I start my day by talking Rusty and Nahla for a walk around my neighbourhood.
By simply petting a dog, it can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. This has been found to be more effective in relieving stress than actually talking to other people. Also, when you walk your dog, you’re bound to go outdoors, hence being with nature.
7) Laugh More
Do you remember the last time, you had a good laugh? If you want to look younger, live longer and be happy, laugh every single day.
Spending time with my parents makes me laugh. I don’t get to see them often as we live in different towns, so when they are down for a visit, I’d make sure to spend quality time with them.
When you’re feeling down, do something that makes you laugh. Laughter brings out the more spontaneous side of you and you’ll feel less self conscious.
8) Light Scented Candles & Listen to Music
One of my ways to wind down after a long stressful day, is to light up a scented candle, listen to music and read or write. Sweet scents like lavender and slow music, will lower your heart rate and blood pressure. This sets you up for better sleep, and you’ll feel more refreshed in the morning. I also reflect and write down the highlights of your day. This practice has taught me to look at the positive side and give thanks, no matter how terrible or stressful the day might have been.
Tip: Keep scented candles by your work desk or bedside your table, you will feel more relax when you’re working on your desk or resting on your bed.
9) Get Moving / Workout
I’m in my happy place when I’m working out. It’s that space, where I’m able to put everything aside and just fully focus my attention to my body and muscles.
Everybody feels good after a workout session. That’s because, exercising pumps up your endorphins, the feel good hormone. It doesn’t have to be a long intense workout. Even a short workout will do wonders. The goal is to move, because movement in any form can be a stress reliever.
10) Check Your Diet
The final tip is to check our diet. We often overlook this, because how can stress be directly linked to food? You’ve heard of “stress eating”.
Stress eating on high-calorie or sugary foods only trick us into thinking we feel better. In fact, these foods can cause our body to produce more stress hormones causing us to want more junk food and be even more stressed.
So check you diet, eat a well balanced diet because that will help you with your digestive system and lower stress hormones.
These are some ways that have helped me to manage my stress and anxiety. What other methods have you practiced? Let me know in the comments below. Remember, most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude, and all that extra stress will slowly disappear and you’ll be happier.