Stress is something that affects most people in their daily lives. It can cause anxiety, depression, and physical illnesses that can negatively impact a person’s life. Fortunately, there are several positive ways to effectively reduce stress and improve mental well-being. Explore some ways to reduce stress and live a more peaceful, anxiety-free life.
Why Stress Matters
Stress is a physiological response to the environment. It might be past experiences, present-day concerns, or worries about the future that create a stress response. The mental and physical effects of stress can become difficult to manage and its impact cannot be understated.
Many people experience overwhelming emotions at one point or another in their lives, whether it be due to a traumatic event, personal struggles, or life stressors. Unfortunately, the effects of these feelings can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health, potentially leading to:
- Becoming overwhelmed
- Hiding stress to cope
- Experiencing nausea, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate
- Recurring nightmares or an inability to deal with emotions
- Experiencing family conflict
- Suffering from substance use disorders
- Suffering from mental health complications
- Feelings of grief and loss compounded by secondary trauma
Stress Reduction Tips
Although it may be hard to think positively about how to handle stress, it is manageable. Taking time to walk through changes will help set people up for success when it comes to healing and coping with significant stress levels.
Ask for Vacation
Time away, going on vacation, and making space to heal are all essential measures while working through stress. Self-care is critical to avoid burnout, substance use, and other issues. While traumatic incidents happen, they don’t have to take over a person’s life. It may be time to ask for space to reinvest in self-care if stress feels too much.
Do Fun Things
Find activities to engage in that alleviate stress. Such hobbies include boxing, martial arts, walking, nature hikes, being with family, drawing, or any number of other things. Anything safe, healthy, and fun will create a place where joy can filter back in slowly, even if it feels like it takes forever. Having fun and laughing decreases stress and brings joy and peace back to the journey.
Staying in shape seems complicated, but don’t give up. Take breaks, have lunch, and stay away from fatty foods. Watch out for sugar and salt, as well, because these add on the pounds before a person realizes it has happened. Unhealthy or processed fast foods can create problems too. Drink water and eat a healthy balance of veggies, fruits, and whole grains for long term health. Try some new exercises with colleagues, go running, or join a couch to 5K group to help bring motivation back.
Practice meditation or yoga. To reclaim your life, engage in activities that are relaxing and work out the entire body, like yoga. These things help relieve anxiety, depression, and stress. Meditation helps reduce pain and builds a healthy balance of mental and physical wellbeing while teaching you to see things differently and find peace.
Write Things Down
Write out all the thoughts and feelings that come up during a day, week, or month. Start noting when stress is highest and when it is lowest. Allow some space to express yourself without judgment. Nobody is going to see it or read what is written (keep it in a safe place). Make a gratitude journal part of the daily and nightly practice of noticing what is good and what is hard. Don’t judge it, just accept what it is. Review the writings with yourself and ask how you can handle each situation better in the future.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. There is a lot that comes up, especially trauma, and it can impact work and personal lifestyle. Active participation in therapy helps work out details in a confidential space. Don’t worry about what others think, do it for self-preservation and to keep the mind clear of junk.
If it seems hard to keep going forward, even with these steps in place, it might be time to ask if it is worth going to treatment for substance use or mental health issues. Finding space to get help may be the best gift to give oneself to work on feeling better and learning how to thrive in life and at work. Don’t push anything aside until giving treatment and seeking additional support, some thought.
May 22, 2020
6 mins read