Video: Make Stress Your Friend from TED.com (English with Spanish subtitles)
In the midst of a constant state of hustle and bustle, it seems as if every aspect of our lives can cause us overwhelming stress. Tasks cannot be completed, meeting deadlines are nearly impossible, and our relationships are on the rocks because we don’t have time to pay enough attention to them. It seems as if there’s no time to begin thinking about how to relieve stress, but it is necessary in order to maintain your health.
How Does Prolonged Stress Lead to Anxiety?
If you are prone to stress in your everyday life, and you do not work to relieve it, then it can lead to a worse condition: anxiety. When stress goes untreated, such effects like high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, and a weakened immune system can have damaging effects on your mind and body. Research has shown that 33 percent of Americans never discuss ways to manage stress with their health care provider. As a result, few people understand how to relieve stress, therefore it becomes chronic. Too often are people dismissing their recurring stress, and are instead taking it as a normal part of life.
Common Life Stressors
It is rare nowadays to encounter somebody that loves their job. More people than not continue working at jobs that cause them extreme stress because of the fear of being financially unstable. The main factors that cause this stress are tense relationships with co-workers, task saturation as well as dictating bosses. A rough day at work likely follows you home, and it can be difficult to interact with your family and friends when your mind is occupied with stressors from work.
On top of experiencing stress at work, it can be tough to find relief when you get home. If you are a parent, then your workday definitely doesn’t end when you walk through the front door. Someone needs to make dinner, help the kids with their homework, wash the laundry and tend to the other tasks that require attention. It may seem impossible to find stress relief when you feel overwhelmed by numerous responsibilities. As a parent, it’s draining to be there for your kids when you’re already feeling empty and drained. Stress can cause you to lash out and neglect your kids when you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. Therefore, It’s important for your own wellbeing as well as those around you that you know how to relieve stress. If you can’t take proper care of yourself, you can’t take proper care of your kids.
As a human being, it’s important to form healthy relationships that add value and joy to your life. However, with stress being so overwhelming, it can lead to relationship issues. Not having enough time to spend with your partner between work and other responsibilities, along with the inability to manage stress, leads to irritability and depression. This can cause arguments, ineffective communication and can seriously damage your relationship.
Unfortunately, money is one of the most common causes of anxiety. Since we need money to live, to eat and to take care of our families, it can seem to loom over us on a day-to-day basis. We feel controlled by it due to the fact that we cannot do much without it. Additionally, money can trap us in jobs that we don’t actually enjoy. Jobs that we feel we must put up with in order to maintain our income. It can be impossible to understand how to relieve stress caused by money issues because it is a necessity to maintain our most basic needs of food and shelter.
As mentioned before, money steers many parts of our lives. When you find yourself unemployed, you are scrambling to support yourself and possibly your family. The struggle adds stress, as you find yourself just trying to survive for basic needs. In the United States, 76 percent of people cited money and work as the leading causes of stress.
In the midst of all of these common life stressors, you may find yourself wondering how to relieve stress that seems so abundant in your life. With stress permeating your everyday life, it can seem impossible to imagine a life without it. However, there are many ways that you can relieve your stress and retrain your brain to see the positives in life.
25 Activities to Relieve Stress
You may have heard of this one before, and wondered how in the world physical activity can actually relieve your stress. Surprisingly enough, the physical movement has a lot of power over your body’s health. Your brain has many nerves that are connected to your body. Thus, when your brain is stressed, your body is stressed. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
If your mind feels overwhelmed and exhausted, journaling can be very beneficial. Writing your feelings and thoughts out on paper can help you sort and understand your emotions. Deciphering your thoughts can bring relief by helping you seek solutions to your problems. Journaling is a stress relief activity that can benefit you by addressing your worries and by helping you understand quickly seek solutions to your problems.
Hiking is wonderful for your mental health and your physical health. Getting out in nature allows you to get away from the stress of technology. Most of us who deal with stress, live in fast-paced concrete jungles and are dependent on technology for work, communication, and information. Being out in nature (without your cell phone) can be grounding and meditative. Listening to the birds and the rustling of the leaves will remind you of life before the information overload of technology. Being present in nature helps your mind to slow down and be present. So get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air, and occupy your mind as you are climbing hills and trekking on scenic trails.
It is extremely relieving to confide in someone you trust. If you feel overworked, you often isolate yourself whether it is due to the shame of not being able to handle it or due to guilt because you don’t want your problems to be a burden on someone else. However, keeping your stress and worries to yourself can lead to bigger problems such as anxiety and depression. Reach out to those who love you. If they aren’t receptive, reach out to a therapist. If therapy is taboo, remember you don’t have to tell anyone. Do it for you, not for anyone else. Do not be afraid to talk to someone, and be receptive to their ideas on stress relief activities. An estimated 8.3 million American adults — suffer from serious psychological distress. You are NOT alone!
Clean and Organize Your Space.
Cleaning up your space, whether it be your house or your office is a great stress relief activity. A cluttered space promotes a cluttered mind and out-of-balance life. While a clean space promotes peace and organization. When your space is organized and everything is in its place, it eliminates the stress of endlessly searching for petty items. Cleaning may be a daunting task, but once you’re done it not only helps you quickly find things, it also triggers the reward centers in your brain for accomplishing the task.
Listen to music.
Music is undoubtedly a mood-booster. It diverts attention away from the stress that is occupying your mind and entertains and amuses. Next time you’re feeling upset, turn on your favorite song or listen to songs from your childhood and reminisce about the part of your life when those songs were popular.
If you accept too many invitations or commitments, you will find yourself drowning in obligations and are unable to take care of your own life. It is okay to choose how you spend your time, and people who truly care about you will understand. Saying no is empowering and liberating.
Yoga promotes deep stretching and bodily awareness. Practicing yoga is a wonderful activity to re-center yourself because it helps you to be aware of the present moment rather than unattentive and distracted with thoughts. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress both in your body and your mind.
Another way to recenter and focus on your inward condition, meditating has serious relaxing capabilities for your body. Meditation is the practice of awareness and mindfulness. Try to meditate and focus on your breathing, it will send ample oxygen to your brain and body to relieve stress. If you’re wondering how to relieve stress, this is one of the most effective ways!
Write a gratitude list.
If you lose sight of your blessings, writing down a list of what you are grateful for is very good for your mental health. You can start by writing down one thing every day that you are grateful for. It could be the oxygen in your lungs, the dinner you just ate and having the capability to make it another day.
Have a day to yourself.
Schedule some time away from your stress. Go on a vacation, have a spa day, or go out to a restaurant alone. Free yourself from tension and expectations. Allow yourself to have a day with no responsibilities.
Improve your diet.
Improving your overall health begins on the inside. Eat plenty of fresh food, avoiding processed and sugary foods as much as possible. Processed foods contain many preservatives that can cause reactions in our bodies, which can contribute to stress and anxiety.
Although social media promotes connection, it also promotes false ideals and envious behavior. We often find ourselves striving to look like the person we saw on Instagram. We wonder why our body doesn’t look like theirs, why we don’t have a significant other and other jealous thoughts. Take a break and live in the moment, and you will notice stress go down and you will stop striving so hard to live a life of false perfection.
Sometimes your worst enemy is yourself. You’re struggling and can’t figure out how to relieve stress, so you tell yourself that you’re a failure and you’re incapable. You have to change your thinking pattern. Start each day with “I am enough,” “I am doing my best” “I am controlling all that I can,” and other positive affirmations. It may seem like a joke, but repeating these phrases in your mind will become a habit and retrain your brain to learn how to relieve stress.
Believe it or not, laughter releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which serves as a reward for the brain, creates a sense of euphoria, and plays a pivotal role in our motivation to continue the behavior.
Lack of sleep can result in sluggishness, which keeps you from being productive. If you are tired you will fall behind on tasks and responsibilities and irritability will increase your stress and unhappiness for you and those around you.
Leaving tasks untouched until the last minute is going to leave you feeling far behind and unproductive which increases stress.
Keep a calendar.
Writing down your plans and tasks is a great way to manage them. Don’t leave it to your brain to remember everything, it can cause you to feel overwhelmed. Can you possibly remember everything that you need to get done? If you wrtie things down on a to-do list and a calendar, it will make it easier on you so you don’t have to waste more energy trying to remember the next thing you need to do.
Find a hobby.
If you’re feeling run-down, drained, and unhappy it can be tough for you to find any life-purpose. You need to enjoy your time while you’re here. Find something you enjoy. Connect with people in your community. You don’t want to waste your days feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Finding an outlet in which you can express yourself is beneficial to relieving stress.
This can seem impossible and inescapable. However, you can lessen your work stress by finding better ways to manage tasks and meet deadlines. Also, practicing forgiveness towards your negative boss and coworkers is tough, but it can greatly improve your resilience and your state of mind.
Writing down your goals can aid in holding yourself accountable. It also gives you something to work towards and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment. Set your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals so that you always have a measurable and focused direction in which to go. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete your goals. Every day, every week, and every month reflect on why you did not meet your goals and what you can do to improve. Remember, you can always adjust your goals as needed.
When your stress levels are high, so is your heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine also increases heart rate, so if you are prone to stress it is best to limit or take caffeine out of your diet.
If you are religious, praying can provide an eternal perspective on the stress you are enduring. Praying for guidance and blessings is wonderful for your happiness and a great way to cope with stress.
Actively fight stress.
When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, replace that stressed thought with something positive. For example, tell yourself “I am capable of finishing this task,” and you will quickly replace your frantic thoughts with productive solutions.
Studies have shown that smells can melt away stress. This is because your sense of smell is connected to your brain, and it affects your amygdala. Your amygdala is responsible for emotions. Scents like lavender have been found to cause blood-pressure to decrease and also promotes sleep.
When you feel as if stress is taking over your life, remember that you have every power to take control. You are not trapped in your situation and you deserve to feel free and happy. Seek communication, get plenty of exercise and light a candle. When everything seems too big, remember to enjoy the little things in life!