6 Ways to Manage Your Stress
by Dina Strada
You ever think to yourself, “Can I just go one week without feeling so damn stressed all the time?”
Maybe you do live a stress-free life most of the time and if so, congrats! You’re one of the lucky few who have found a way to manage one of the leading causes of illness and anxiety.
The reality is, we all experience some form of stress at times and often don’t give much thought to what’s actually causing it. I like to say stress is typically caused by thinking something needs to be a certain way when it isn’t.
It’s also created by an imbalance in the body/mind. The mind wants one thing (often to relax) and the body does another (gotta answer another email, make dinner, throw in a load of laundry, shuttle the kids to another sports activity).
Or the body wants to relax and the mind is racing (why didn’t he respond to my text, I’m never going to finish that project by Thursday, my spouse is getting on my nerves, I hate my job and am wasting my life away not doing what I love).
When stress happens, adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones flood your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, damaging your brain’s memory center, and generally wreaking havoc on your body. And we don’t want that! The body is precious and it’s the first place that manifests our stress. When we’re worrying about stuff we create a toxic environment energetically and physically. And the truth is, so much of our stress is simply perception. It’s us choosing to look at a situation or the circumstances in our life from a negative point of view instead of just what is in the moment.
Obviously there are things beyond our control that are stressful. Divorce, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, financial hardship, our kids acting like little terrors. We can’t control those things. But when they do happen, there are 6 great ways to manage the stress when it comes up so the body doesn’t go into that fight or flight mode and cause us to get sick.
1. Move it, Move it
Sweat it out and work it off! One of the best ways to burn off those stress hormones is to get your body moving. Got out for a run, take a kickboxing or dance class, go for a bike ride or take a yoga class. In fact, Yoga is one of the best ways to relieve stress because it combines movement and breathing, bringing your mind/body back in balance. Even better, grab a friend and go for a walk if high intensity exercise isn’t your thing. Talking to someone you trust about what’s stressing you out while moving is the perfect recipe for stress reduction.
Oh I know, you’re not a writer. Good news, you don’t have to be! All you have to do is own a pen and a notebook and voilà… you have the perfect tool for stress management! Journaling is widely known as one of the best ways for helping people process emotions and release what’s bothering them especially anger and worry. When you’re feeling stressed, I highly recommend writing in a journal for at least 15 minutes a day as a way to vomit up all the emotions you’re carrying.
3. Soak in a Bath or Hot Tub
When we’re stressed, our muscles tense up. A hot bath or jacuzzi is a great way to relieve the tension. If you have a deep soak tub at home, add 2 cups of Epson salts (which contains magnesium, the relaxation mineral) and a few drops of essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus. Crank up the relaxation quota by adding some soothing Hemi-Sync® music in the background to calm your mind and nerves.
4. Change Your Story
When you notice yourself getting stressed, see if you can shift your story around what’s happening. For example, the other day I was stressed about money. My story was, “I don’t make enough money and I’m never going to get paid what I’m worth.”
Whoa! Negative Nelly thinking.
Instead I shifted the thought to, “Do I have what I need?” The answer was yes. And then, “Do I really know for sure I’ll never get paid what I’m worth?” And the answer was, “of course not.” I stopped stressing over it. That’s called future-tripping. We all do it and it’s one of the leading causes of stress for all of us. Stay present. Ask yourself if you’re OK right now in this moment and try a shift in perspective.
5. Take Something Off Your Plate
Most stress is caused by having too many things on our to-do list and not enough hours in the day to do them all. The truth is, most of us are saying yes to more things than we have the bandwidth to do.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take just one thing off your plate. Maybe that means cancelling social plans you have this weekend. Or stepping down from the PTA board at your kid’s school. Or ordering in one night instead of cooking dinner. It doesn’t make you a bad person to do any of those things. It makes you a person who prioritizes self-care.
6. Get More Rest
Sleep, sleep and sleep some more. Have you ever noticed how much crankier you are when you’re tired? Or how much better you feel when you get a decent night’s sleep?
Worry and stress can keep us from getting a restful and decent night sleep which causes us to be irritable and less able to handle things the next day. When your mind is tired, so is the body. Find time to nap or sleep in one morning. Sleep makes all the difference in the world when we find ourselves stressed.
Be sure to see Hemi-Sync®’s albums designed to help relax and reduce stress.
And for an extra bonus if none of these are working, I highly recommend a good therapist. Sometimes we just need an outside perspective to help us shift our ways of thinking.
Dina Strada is a freelance writer and Life Coach whose work has appeared in Huff Post, elephant journal, Medium, Thrive Global, Chopra, Mind Body Green and various other online publications. Read more of her work at www.dinastrada.com.