Unlike anxiety which causes constant worry even in the absence of a stressor, stress is an emotional response to an external trigger. All humans experience stress to some degree. Stress is subjective; what may cause stress for one individual may not cause stress for another. Stress is not always negative as it can motivate one to accomplish more. Individuals under prolonged stress often exhibit physical and emotional symptoms including irritability, difficulty eating and sleeping, exhaustion, digestive problems, increased heart rate and more. Rather than turning towards unhealthy responses to deal with stress, it is imperative to have a tool kit to help you in moments of stress. This blog will cover coping strategies to better manage your stress.
How can I combat stress?
- Deep breathing– whenever you notice yourself in a stressful situation, turn your attention towards your breathing. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds. Regulating your breathing regularly helps regulate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of calmness.
- Avoid procrastination– try to stay as organized as you can by engaging in effective time management. Break tasks into small and more manageable ones. Make sure to implement a routine and set reminders to complete deadlines on time. Try to control what you can.
- Develop a social network– social support plays an important role in reducing stress. Having those you can share your feelings with and a listening ear, is pivotal. While spending time with those you love is important, for some, alone time is just as important. You know yourself best. Do what works for you.
- Exercise– engaging in 30 minutes of exercise daily has proven to be effective in decreasing stress. Try to implement activities that you enjoy, rather than ones that feel like a chore.
- Healthy lifestyle– choosing a healthy lifestyle contributes significantly to stress resilience. Maintaining a balanced diet with proper nutrition, ensuring adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night), and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake are fundamental aspects of a stress-resilient lifestyle.
- Humor– laughter can be the best medicine to relieve your stress. Whether it is watching a funny clip, listening to your favorite comedian, laughter can be a free form of stress relief.
- Find yourself an outlet– stress can get the best of you. Therefore, finding a healthy outlet to channel your stress and relax your mind is crucial. Pick anything you enjoy, and go for it.
While stress is a part of everyday life and we are all vulnerable to it, it is crucial to have skills to use to ensure it does not get the best of you. Lowering your stress levels benefits not only you, but those around you too. If you or a loved one is struggling, feel free to reach out for support.