Stress – we all experience it from time to time, and some of us experience it more than others. Sometimes you may feel yourself becoming stressed over your career, home life, bills, your children, etc., and sometimes you may find yourself feeling stressed and you don’t even know why. I know personally that sometimes I get so busy that I am stressed and do not even realize it until I am so tired that all I want to do is rest. You may wonder how you could easily reduce and cope with your level of stress, because stress can wreak havoc on your life and health. Luckily, I have found 5 simple ways to reduce stress, so take a deep breath and keep reading.
1. Identify what is stressing you out.
Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes we can be stressed out and not really even know why! The first step is truly finding out what your biggest stressors are and find ways to eliminate them as much as possible. Ask yourself some questions: What was happening when I started to feel this way? How am I feeling physically and emotionally? How am I reacting to this situation? How do I make myself feel better?
Asking yourself these questions will help you recognize the event that caused your stress and can also help you see that sometimes you may be creating this stress yourself. You will need to recognize this and accept control over it before successfully being able to get a handle on your stress. Perhaps carry around a journal and ask yourself those questions every time you find yourself feeling stressed; you will likely begin to see a pattern. For me personally, I get stressed over working too much. I have learned that I create this stress by accepting too many tasks thrown my way, and that I need to learn how to manage my time better.
2. Avoid stressful situations.
In step #1 you learned how to figure out what your stressors are, so #2 is almost a no-brainer! For me and my example, it was learning how to say “no” based on my limits in my professional and personal life. I learned to not make too many commitments at one time, and to be realistic with my to-do list. Take a serious look at your schedule and compare it with your daily to-do list. Remove tasks that aren’t absolutely necessary – you can postpone them or remove them entirely.
Some other ways can be to avoid people who stress you out, avoid certain discussions that stress you out (such as politics) and control your environment. If one particular person stresses you out when you are around them, cut your time with them as much as possible. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the most beneficial step. I personally have had to do this before, and it is not easy – however, it is entirely worth it.
If certain situations stress you out, such as sitting in traffic, find a way around that. If traffic stresses you out, find an alternate route that is less congested. If hearing about all of the bad things happening in the world stresses you out (I know it does me!), avoid the news. If something monumental happens, you will hear about it anyway.
If discussions on certain topics always end in a stressful argument, avoid those topics completely if possible; change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation.
3. Have some fun.
A common theme I recognize when I am stressed out is that I am not having enough fun. When you’re stressed, fun may be the last thing on your mind, but trust me here. What do you enjoy to do? What is a relaxing activity for you? Perhaps you enjoy walking in nature, writing in a journal, reading a good book, taking a hot bath (one of my favorite de-stressors!), listening to music or drinking a warm cup of tea? Do those things! Don’t let yourself get so busy that you forget to take some time for yourself to chill out and relax. You may feel guilty for wanting to spend some time relaxing alone if you have a spouse or a family, but don’t – taking some time for yourself to relax will make you a better YOU when you are with them.
4. Work on your health.
Working on my health was a huge game-changer for my stress. If you do not currently exercise, I challenge you to add that into your schedule. Exercise has become one of my top ways to relieve stress. I now know that if I have had a stressful day, at least 30 minutes of sweat will decrease my stress dramatically and improve my mood. Altering your diet can have positive effects on your stress as well, because eating well keeps our bodies strong and we can better cope with stress when we are strong. Another huge factor for me has been cutting caffeine completely from my diet. I recognized that caffeine was making me very tense and stressed, frequently causing me to have anxiety attacks. Also, make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
5. Accept the things you cannot change.
If you’ve ever heard the serenity prayer, you will recognize this – learn to accept the things you cannot change. Life simply throws curveballs at us sometimes that we have absolutely no control over. One thing that I always let stress me out is things that other people do. The behavior of others is completely out of my control, so why was I letting it bother me? Learn to let things go that are out of your control. Try talking to a trusted friend about these things in order to help you get past them without feeling stressed from bottling up the feelings. If someone hurt you, learn to forgive them so that you can move on. Chances are that they aren’t dwelling on what they did to you, so you shouldn’t either.