How to Manage Stress
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Whether it’s due to work pressures, family or relationship problems or financial issues, stress can quickly become a serious problem. If not properly managed, it can lead to serious physical and mental health problems including depression, anxiety and addiction issues.
The best psychologists will tell you that stress can not be completely eliminated, but it can be managed by making a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle.
The following are just general tips. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, you should seek professional assistance.
Get Daily Exercise
Serious stress can lead to feelings of exhaustion and lethargy. This can make finding the motivation to exercise extremely difficult. However, regular exercise provides plenty of physical and mental health benefits.
Aerobic exercise reduces stress hormones like cortisol and releases endorphins, neurochemicals that help to relieve pain and enhance pleasure. So, if you feel unusually happy and optimistic after a good run, it’s likely due to your body producing more endorphins.
Stress can also result in an excess of nervous energy, which can make it difficult to calm down, relax or sleep. Exercise can help you to burn off this nervous energy, This will help you to relax and get a good night’s sleep, which in turn helps you to better manage stress the next day.
Maintain Healthy Diet
People respond to stress in different ways. However, one of the common responses is a change in diet. For some people, this may mean skipping meals and not eating properly. For others, it may involve binge eating processed and fast foods. And it goes without saying that both of these options are bad.
Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, which can make it difficult to concentrate as well as making you irritable and less able to process stressful situations.
Binge eating can lead to weight gain and health problems and can also leave you feeling sluggish and lacking in energy, again making it difficult to deal with stress.
During times of stress, try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. This might include healthy portions of non-starchy vegetables and proteins that come from poultry, eggs, beef, fish and nuts.
As much as possible, try not to consume too much caffeine, alcohol or sugary foods. Caffeine and sugar lead to energy peaks and troughs throughout the day, which can affect your ability to function and process stress.
A healthy diet will properly and steadily fuel your body and mind and give you the energy and focus you need to negotiate stressful times.
Be Mindful of your Own Thoughts
When under stress, we tend to exaggerate the problems that we face. Oftentimes, what’s causing us stress can have more to do with our interpretation of the situation rather than the situation itself.
When faced with stress, it’s worth taking the time to look at the facts and compare them to your own thoughts and interpretations. Sometimes you’ll find that you automatically jump to the worst conclusions and, as a result, cause yourself more stress than is necessary.
Of course, there are instances where a situation is objectively stressful. However, It’s important to remember that you can challenge negative thoughts when they come up. If you catch yourself thinking that you can’t handle a particular problem, stop for a second. Ask yourself: did this thought come from a realistic perspective or an emotional one?
Remember that your thoughts and anxiety are not you. It’s not a weakness to feel this way and your can situation can improve with a little bit of work.
Stay in the Present
Stress is often exacerbated by focusing on the past or the future. We may be bothered by the things we’ve failed at in the past or overwhelmed by what the future has in store.
To mitigate such stress, it’s important to stay in the present as much as possible. Narrow down your focus and concentrate on what you’re doing in the here and now. Not only can this help you become more productive, it can also save you from unnecessary worries.
In this fast-paced world we live in, we’re constantly planning, revising and looking for the next thing to do. Sometimes, it’s best to just take a moment and slow down. Slow breathing techniques, yoga and other mediation methods might be able to help you stay in the present.
Get More or Better Sleep
Getting high-quality sleep can help you stabilise your moods and promote mental clarity. It helps you repair your body and sorts out conflicting thoughts and emotions that you had during the day. In short, sleep prepares you to adequately handle stressful situations.
On the other hand, lack of sleep can lower your energy levels and cloud your mind. This can make you prone to being more stressed out when faced with issues at work or at school.
Experts recommend 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. If you’re having problems sleeping, you can try meditating before bed or getting more exercise during the day.
Making these positive changes to your lifestyle can help you to better manage stress. However, it’s important that you don’t try to do everything on your own. Talk to friends or family or even consider psychotherapy as a powerful tool for managing stress.