Stress is something that everyone experiences at times, but overall stress rates in America are on the rise. Stress creates a negative domino effect on your health. It can lead to emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, irritability, lack of focus and decreased sex drive. Physical symptoms include headaches, fatigue, upset stomach, loss of sleep and much more. Stress can have negative effects on your behavior as well. Substance abuse, fits of rage, comfort eating and isolation are just some of these. These physical, mental, and behavioral issues all feed on each other, creating a cycle of more stress and further health problems.
There are lots of ways you can reduce stress in your daily life. Everyone goes through difficulties, so it is important to practice self care to keep stress levels as low as possible.
Here are six tips to combat stress that you can start doing today!
HALT stands for "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired." Identifying the the problem is half the battle, and these are some of the core causes of stress. Once you have figured out the source of your stress, you can take steps to reduce it. Be it a meal, a phone call, or a power nap, you can usually find a solution to these issues that will make you feel better.
A daily meditation is one of the best practices you can adopt to reduce stress. Taking some time to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing is invaluable. Set aside at least ten minutes a day to quietly meditate. You can do this in your car, office, home, or anywhere you can find a quiet space. While there is no way to meditate incorrectly, you can click here for more in-depth tips. Some great free mediation apps include: Calm, Headspace, The Mindfulness App, and Insight Timer
As mentioned above, hunger can wreak havoc on your mood. Be prepared by having some healthy snacks available to satiate you until your next meal. This will keep you from resorting to fast food or vending machine items, which will only make you tired and have other negative impacts on your health. Some good healthy options are: mixed veggies, small portions of nuts, cottage cheese, fruit, organic beef jerky and Greek yogurt.
Many people underestimate the value of talking through a problem. They may fear they will come off as complaining, or that others have no time to hear about whatever is stressing them out. There is a lot of value in confiding your struggles to another human being, as long as you do it correctly. If you can calmly articulate what is bothering you to a trusted friend, family member, clergyman/woman or healthcare professional, they can often provide empathy or suggestions. Talking through a problem will put issues in perspective and allow you to work towards a solution.
Disorganization is a major stressor. That overwhelmed/falling behind feeling can be avoided with some planning. Writing a list down or putting one in your phone will set mini-goals for your day. You won't forget what to do and you will feel you have had a productive day when you complete your tasks. For example, when you actually list out, "complete work project, go to gym, meditate, go grocery shopping, get lunch ready for tomorrow" you have taken these ideas out of your mind and made them real. They are now smaller goals that seem easier, which will help you avoid that stressed out thought of "I have so much to do today, I'll never get it all done!"
Exercise does wonders for your physical and mental health. A regular fitness routine produces a compounding positive effect on your wellbeing. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the body that reduce the perception of pain and produce feelings of happiness. Furthermore, the physical changes in your body will have you feeling more energized and confident. The exertion of energy from exercise will also help you to sleep better. These mental and physical benefits will make you want to keep exercising. All of these positive effects reduce stress, so be sure to exercise.