Stress. It's something we hear a lot about these days, and for good reason. Stress, especially chronic stress, can take a toll on your mind and your body. It can interfere with your well-being, strain your relationships and disrupt your sleep. It can also put you at increased risk for health issues such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, digestive issues and headaches.
But how can we start to tame our stress? Below are 8 easy-to-follow techniques that I have tried and found helpful.
Tune in. One place to start is to tune in to what is causing your stress. When you feel your mind start to race or your pulse start to quicken, stop for a minute and ask yourself what is triggering the onset of stress. Try writing down your stress triggers in a journal or notebook. Over time, you might start to see a pattern emerge. Once you have awareness of what is causing your stress, it might be worth making some changes in your life to minimize the sources of your stress.
Breathe. This is one of my favorites because you can do it anytime, anywhere. There are many different techniques for breath-work, but simply taking a few slow, deep breaths in and out can have a calming effect on your mind and body. The simple trick of deep breathing can even be used during a stressful meeting or if you find yourself in a confrontation with a friend or a loved one. If you are skeptical, give it a try! Deep breathing may be a great tool for managing your stress.
Move. For many people, exercise is a great way to relieve stress, likely because it reduces the body's stress hormones. The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate movement into your day. Take a walk over your lunch break, get up and stretch between calls or tasks, or try a free workout video - there are many available online. If you can get outside to exercise, even better, as you gain the added benefits of fresh air & sunlight.
Connect. Humans are social animals, so it's not surprising that connecting with others can help lower stress. Although we need to be more cautious during COVID, human touch such as hugs or massage can be very beneficial by lowering cortisol levels. In addition, simply spending time with friends and family can be a great way to keep your stress in check.
Write. There is something about getting your worries down on paper that helps to clear your mind and tame your stress. Try keeping a small notebook in your bag. If you find yourself thinking about all of the tasks on your plate, jot them down in a to-do list. Or, if you're a constant worrier, set aside a designated amount of time each day to write down your concerns (and then try not to let them fill your mind during the rest of the day!).
Self-Care. I know this is a hot topic these days, but it works! If you are feeling stressed out and frazzled, try to sneak away for a bit of self-care. Something warm, like a bath or hot tea, can help you unwind. Or try self-massage. I like to use a tennis ball to release tension in my back & neck, or roll it under my feet after a long day of running around.
Fun. If you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, try taking some time to do something you enjoy. Think about what makes you laugh or what makes you smile and do it now or schedule it into your day or week.
Meditate. With time, this one can make a huge difference in how you handle stress. Meditation often seems daunting, but I've found that if you break it down into small increments, it is more manageable and can still have a big impact on stress. If you don't know how to get started, check out a meditation app that can guide you through a short session. Try one or two minutes per day and see how you feel.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational and & educational purposes only & I do not provide medical or mental health advice. If you have tried to lower your stress and feel like nothing is working, please reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional.