11 Ways to Get Your Stress under Control
We all handle stress in different ways. Some people can take it in their stride, whilst others will ‘bottle it up’ increasing the physical and emotional pressure on themselves. Stressful events need to happen and pass, not linger and remain in your subconscious, where they can gnaw away at your health, often without you being aware of it.
Stress can come from an individual one-off situation, from the fear of a recurring event or it may be constantly around you, such as in relationship or work scenarios.
Whatever your type of stress, you must learn to handle it properly because stress adversely affects your well-being and needs to be kept in check.
These 11 ways to get your stress under control will help you cope with the different types of stress you face. They include actions you can take at the time of a stressful event, as well as when you are away from the stressor but still experiencing the after effects. Try them and give them a chance to be effective.
Physical Activity Leads the Way to Get Your Stress under Control
One of nature’s great stress relievers is regular exercise. Physical activity helps relieve stress in many ways. It increases the circulation of oxygen throughout your body and aids the production of endorphins which will help improve your mood, relax your mind and re-energize you.
It maintains internal health, keeps you in shape and can improve your appearance which in turn can keep you feeling positive about yourself. It gives your self-esteem a welcome boost.
There are many ways to increase physical activity without taking out a gym membership or getting involved in sports. Walking, jogging, swimming and cycling are all excellent ways to become physically active with aerobic exercise. And exercising at home is so easy as well, with all the home fitness aids available.
The benefits to physical activity go far beyond just stress relief. Regular exercise helps keep your mind alert, improves your cardiovascular system and generally improves your strength and endurance. It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, some cancers and early death. It will make you feel re-energized and ready for anything
Diet and Nutrition
Stress affects our diet in many ways, but our diet can also affect our stress. How so?
Stressed people tend to eat too much or not enough. They eat ‘on the go’, miss meals, and snack compulsively. They’ll have a cup of coffee in place of a meal. When they do eat, the increased cortisol levels in their body makes them crave salty, sugary and high fat foods, none of which provide proper nutrition, are not quickly digestible and which may lead to weight gain or conditions like indigestion and acid reflux, which can further add to anxiety and stress.
At a time when your metabolism is affected by stress, and your digestive system is lagging, you need to be eating nutritious foods that will metabolize more readily. These will include fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, oily fish, nuts and seeds, whole grain breads, yoghurt and oatmeal. And you should drink plenty of water or green tea.
You should also avoid food and drink that aggravates stress. Steer clear of coffee, alcohol and energy drinks, butter and cheese. And avoid processed and fast food which have most of their nutritional value lost in production.
When your body is stressed and your digestive system has slowed down, natural foods provide the range of nutrients your body needs to aid the recovery process.
If you eat a balanced and healthy diet you will consume a good amount of essential nutrients. If not you should take a multi-vitamin supplement to offset the nutritional deficiencies in your diet.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Finding ways to relax is key to being able to control your stress. In work and business and at home we have our best ideas when we are relaxed, and are able to think clearly.
Our minds can easily get out of balance when we don’t or can’t distance ourselves from the hassle and tensions of everyday matters. When we feel constantly pressured, it is not just our minds that are overactive. All manner of activity goes on in our body when we stress, the side effects of which can make us feel unwell and put our well-being at risk.
The benefits of relaxation are obvious from a stress relief viewpoint, but you do have to learn how to relax yourself.
There are many ways to relax, and these are just a few of the techniques:
- Meditation is a generic term about practices that promote relaxation through concentration and visualization. There are many ways to meditate but Yoga Meditation, Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation are possibly the better known types in the west.
- Tai chi (pronounced Ty-chee) was originally a Chinese martial art. It uses deep breathing and slow gentle movements, to promote good health, stress reduction and balance. It is safe for all ages especially for older people. When you have mastered the basics you can practice on your own or with a group.
- Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) comes from the Japanese meaning universal life energy. It is a stress reduction technique that promotes natural healing by the laying on of hands.
- Yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline that is practised for health and relaxation. There are many different forms of Yoga. They utilize postures and breathing which aim to promote strength and flexibility. Yoga is easily practised at home as well as in group classes.
Improve your Breathing
Deep breathing techniques to reduce tension can be very effective when you find yourself unexpectedly in a stressful situation. Your breathing changes when you stress. You will tend to take shorter more shallow breaths instead of filling your lungs.
The benefits of deep breathing exercises can best be appreciated when your stress is happening ‘in the now’, when they help calm you and give you an instant lift.
Develop a Positive Mental Attitude
You have to understand your stress if you are to keep it under control. People with a positive outlook on life tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems, fewer diseases, and are less prone to stress. They also appear happier.
The ability to think in a positive way, in creating a positive mental attitude will give you more control over your stress. It will enable you to see things in perspective and get on with life better.
There are many books and CDs that show you how to have a positive attitude and help you become a far more positive person. Check some out here at Amazon.
Get enough Sleep
Your body needs a proper amount of sleep. You should aim to get between seven and eight hours every night. An adequate amount of sleep enables your body to relax your muscles and undergo the required cell renewal and repair, so you can awake feeling refreshed and re-energized in the morning.
Sleep problems are a common symptom of stress. When you are tired you are not at your best. Your mind and body should be properly rested to face the normal rigors of the day, and adequate sleep becomes essential when you have feelings of anxiety and stress. Follow the tips for dealing with sleep problems here.
If all else fails and you are struggling to get a reasonable amount of sleep, consider taking a natural nighttime sleep aid as a helping hand.
Know your limitations
You should always know your limitations and not go beyond what you are capable of if you want to minimize your stress. Putting yourself under pressure to achieve a deadline for something you cannot reasonably expect to meet is asking for trouble, and will only make your stress worse.
Ask for help
Don’t be too proud to ask for help if needed. Don’t bottle things up until they overwhelm you. It can help to talk things through with a close and reliable friend or a medical professional when things get too much. There is no shame in asking for help, especially if your stress is making you feel overwhelmed.
Learn when to Say No
It can be easy to take on more commitments than you can realistically handle, whether at home or in your workplace. Taking on too much work or responsibility is a common cause of stress. We can only do so much. There are only 24 hours in a day and you should use that time effectively.
At times you have to just say no when other people ask you to do something for them which would strain your existing workload.
The art of saying no is straightforward enough. Be straight with people about having your time already filled. Be firm, always polite, and smile.
When you learn how to say no your assertiveness will provide you with a boost to your self-esteem as you are showing yourself that you are taking control.
Ensure You have enough Leisure Time
We work to live – or we should do. Not the other way round. We need some leisure time so that we can relax properly and enjoy ourselves. Life should not always be about work. Even if finances are tight there are ways that you can enjoy a little leisure time. This should be something different from the activities mentioned earlier about learning to relax.
Hobbies, sports, time spent with the kids, some creative DIY are all good at distracting your mind from your stressors.
Remove Clutter from Your Life
During our lifetime we accumulate clutter. Not just the physical clutter of jobs unfinished or things not put away. We have emotional clutter. Thoughts that hold us back and fill our mind with negative and confusing distractions that can muddle our rationale.
Just as we occasionally need to re-organize our home and de-clutter closets, the garage and the kid’s rooms for example, we sometimes need to perform the same de-cluttering routine to our thinking. Decide what is really important and what is less so.
All these 11 ways to get your stress under control are just coping strategies. The cause of your stress is in your mind and that is where you must ultimately lay it to rest.