Stress is a normal part of life. Unfortunately, some people suffer far more than others.
According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, stress levels in America are higher than they have ever been before. A decade of APA research showed that over 50% of the population was concerned about their stress levels.
While the idea of therapy may sound attractive, many people opt for more cost effective and short-term remedies to relieve stress.
Several years ago, I found myself in a stressful and all-consuming career. I worked myself into a position where I became unhealthy and burnt out. Many people suffer from this and should evaluate whether they have the signs of being burnt out at work.
Although professional therapy may be a necessary as a long-term solution, here are some effective ways to decrease your stress right now:
1.) Breathe Deeply
During times of stress, your body releases stress hormones, which result in the following symptoms: quickened heartbeat, faster breathing, tightened muscles, and rising blood pressure. Deep breathing causes the brain to release stress reducing endorphins – a “feel good” chemical.
Simply breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose; then exhale slowly through your mouth. Practicing this just a few minutes every day can help decrease your stress levels.
2.) Stop Multitasking
Switching between tasks can be very stressful. Whether you are a procrastinator or you are overloaded with projects, take some time to sit down and create a list.
Write down everything you need to accomplish – in order of importance. As you complete each task, cross it off the list. STOP bouncing between projects if possible.
3.) Turn On Relaxing Music
The therapeutic benefits of music are undeniably effective. Music has the power to calm anxiety, incite emotions, and change your mood.
If your workplace permits it, listen to relaxing music.
On stressful days, I would listen to spa music and light a candle on my desk. At home, I would do the same thing. Listen to a music genre that encourages you to relax, breathe deeply, and unwind.
4.) Eat Healthy
Every health professional will tell you that proper diet is a crucial part of your mental and physical health.
For your next meal, opt for something healthful – perhaps a hearty chicken salad or stir fry. Stop snacking on sugary, fatty foods (chips, candies, chocolate, soda, etc.) The key is planning ahead! Cut of some fruit and vegetables and purchase some dip (apples and peanut butter).
In the beginning, this will take a great deal of effort. But over time, healthy eating will become a way of life. Choosing the proper foods is just one of the easy lifestyle changes that will improve your health.
5.) Drink Tea
As an avid coffee drinker, it was difficult for me to switch to primarily drinking tea. However, the benefits I received far surpassed my preference for coffee.
It was difficult, but I weaned myself off of my caffeine dependency. I lost some weight, my digestive issues drastically lessened, my nerves were calmed, and a cup of tea became source of comfort.
Currently, I drink green tea and dandelion tea (known for its digestive benefits). I drink coffee as a rare treat and opt for chai tea when I needed some extra caffeine.
6.) Exercise (Even A Short Walk)
To many people, “exercise” is a dirty word. But exercise doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour at the gym each day or run a marathon.
Take a short walk on your lunch break, take the stairs, take a moment to stretch every few hours, take a walk after work. This gets your blood moving and releases endorphins – a “feel good” chemical that can improve your mood and relieve stress.
Walking and light exercise is just one of the easy weight loss hacks for every day life.
7.) Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep is one of the most overlooked necessities of life. Did you know that you can only live about 11 days without sleep? Lack of sleep causes chronic fatigue, headaches, weight gain, confusion, heart problems, and depression. Sleep is essential for a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Change up your evening schedule and make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Anything less should be considered a short-term necessity.
8.) Say “No!”
The only person who knows how much you can handle is YOU. Learn to say “No” to things that will increase your stress levels.
Be selective with the things you take on and let other know when you workload capacity is maxed out. If you are a workaholic or a people pleaser, you must make yourself your #1 priority (especially if you are feeling burnt out).
9.) Change You’re Atmosphere
Where are the places you spend most of your time? Perhaps it is your workplace, office, home, or vehicle. Make this area as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
Light some candles, diffuse essential oils, listen to calming music, set out pictures of people or things you love, post empowering quotes around your work area, dim the lights, etc. Find a way to create an atmosphere that won’t create additional stress.
Although I am not a huge fan of essential oils, I found that diffusing them in my office encouraged me to breathe deeply and feel more calm.
10.) Find An Outlet
It is a basic human need to find someone to talk to. If you are struggling with stress or anxiety, you need to release your emotions.
Find someone who is encouraging and trustworthy. It can be a spouse, family member, friend, or therapist.
As an adult, it can be difficult to have friends who are a true support system. However, hard times can bring you closer if you have taken the steps to deepen your relationships. After talking through your emotions with a trusted source, you will feel much better.
11.) Get A Massage
As stress builds, your body reacts by tensing your muscles. This results in a stiff back, knotted neck, and headaches.
As my stress increased, I found myself getting constant headaches and migraines. As a result, I had to schedule a back and neck massage once a month. No, this was not the relaxing and “feel-good” kind. It hurt like heck, but it relieved neck tension and encouraged me to focus on posture.
12.) Do Something You Enjoy
Please do NOT skip over this step.
During the most stressful part of my life, this was an area that I neglected for quite some time. However, when I started actively pursuing a hobby, it gave me something to look forward to – an outlet for my anxiety and frustration.
What do you enjoy? Writing, animals, reading, painting, sightseeing, games, cooking, dancing, biking, gardening, photography, etc. If you cannot think of anything, try something new!
I purchased an adult coloring book and would color and listen to relaxing music during some of my lunch breaks. I never thought I would find this relaxing, but I did!
PRO TIP: If you spend most of your day in front of a computer screen, choose a hobby that takes you away from electronic devices and social media. This helps to stimulate creativity and give your eyes a break.
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!