Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up

With work, school, family, friends and life-changing events occurring, experiencing stress is inevitable. It seems like as soon as we find a morsel of peace, something else comes up and, at times, multiple issues arise simultaneously. Many of us are used to the cacophony of our crazy lives but many of us do not know how to cope with the constant stressors. The key is not to run away from the issues life affords us but to embrace them and learn how to manage the stress we go through. Fortunately, there are a myriad of techniques you can incorporate in your daily routine that will allow you to cope with these stressors.

There are many books, videos and articles you can read that will give you tips on ways to relieve stress. One particular article I admire is entitled “Stress Relievers: 17 Ways to Reduce Stress” by Elizabeth Scott. In this article, she wrote about both short-term and long-term strategies you can use to help relieve stress. The short-term strategies are things that you can do that are free, take little practice to do, and can provide immediate relief. Here are some of those techniques:

  1. Meditate and breathe. When you are feeling overwhelmed and your nerves are getting the best of you, simple close your eyes, slow down your breath and count down from 10 or 20. If you have more time, you can continue to slow your breath, listen to your heartbeat, take in the thoughts you are thinking, acknowledge them, then release them. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, hold it for one second once your belly fills with air, then slowly release the air through your nose. Repeat as needed. Doing these things multiple times will provide some stress relief.
  2. Relax your muscles and stretch. When you are stressed, your body can be very tensed, so learning to relax your muscles helps you relieve body tension. Take in deep breaths and section off muscles in your body as your tighten and relax your muscles, starting from your head down to your toes. Also, stretching your muscles everyday helps relieve tight muscles and relaxes your body.
  3. Take a walk or spend some time outdoors. When you get fresh air and sunlight by spending some time outdoors, it will help you relax and unwind from the hectic day. Taking a walk out in nature like at a park helps calm your mind and release some stress. Spending at least 20 minutes a day outside, not only relieves stress, but also improves your focus and vision, builds your immune system, and increases your longevity.
  4. Aromatherapy (candles, diffusers, body products, etc). If you are feeling overwhelmed at home, then take the time to use some aromatherapy. Scott wrote that “Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body”. It may help to darken the room you will be relaxing in or to light candles or a diffuser while you’re taking a hot bubble bath. Also, utilize calming scents like lavender, chamomile or vanilla.
  5. Pick up a hobby. When you are home, you can relieve stress by taking up a hobby like art or gardening. It can help you go back to feeling like a carefree kid when you color. That is why adult coloring books are an arising trend to help relieve stress. Focusing your thoughts on a task instead of the number of other things floating in your mind aids in calming your mind.

Once you have made these short-term strategies a habit, you will then be easily able to incorporate some long-term strategies into your daily routine. The long-term techniques will allow you to become more resilient to life’s stressors and will provide an overall happier you and healthier well-being. Here are some long-term strategies:

  1. Have a balanced diet. When you have a healthy, balanced diet, you are likely to feel happier and more energized. When you consume high fat and high sugar foods, it slows the mind and body down which makes you less likely to manage your stress. Consume more fruits and veggies as well as healthy fats like avocados and nuts.
  2. Incorporate leisure activities. Some work and some play keeps the doc away! Be sure you make time every week to do something that you love to do like playing games, solving puzzles, or spending time with friends. Any leisure activities that you can do will help you relieve stress, so be sure to make time for them multiple times a week.
  3. Take up yoga. Yoga may not be for everyone but even a beginners class or video can aid in reliving stress and anxiety because it helps you be present, calms your mind and spirit and allows you to acknowledge and release your thoughts.
  4. Exercise. We all know we should exercise at least 3 times a week. It is good to keep your body moving, even if it’s just a stroll around your neighborhood. It allows you to get sunlight and fresh air as well as release any mental or physical tension in the body, depending on the form of exercise.
  5. Rid your life of unnecessary things. We work and have families and friends so there can be a build up of unnecessary information and activities that are overloading our bodies and minds. Try to rid your mind of excess information because it is not needed for a healthy mind. Any unnecessary activities should also be ceased like excess shopping, spending hours on social media or watching tv. Rid your mind and body of these things to help you relieve stress.
  6. Surround yourself with positivity. One of the most important things you can do to aid in relieving stress is to surround yourself with positive people and positive vibes. Welcoming good vibes assists in a more relaxed mind, body and soul. If you must, keep your circle of friends small because the weight of other people’s problems can cause an excess amount of stress on you, even if it’s unconscious.

Managing your stress is very important to your overall well-being. A healthy and stress-free mind and body not only benefits you but also those around you. You should start off with the short-term strategies and get yourself accustomed to making those a habit, then you can move on to the long-term techniques. Learn not to run from the stress but embrace the challenges life brings and learn to properly manage them. Enjoy your life, don’t stress about it!

ReferencesScott, E. (2019, April 12). Stress Relievers: 17 Ways to Reduce Stress. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195

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