Stress. Somehow the word alone creates tension. Yet not all stress is bad. Keep in mind that stress is a normal physiological reaction that allows us to meet the demands of our daily grind—pushing us to accomplish tasks and increase productivity.
Think about all those deadlines, meetings, and presentations that you have going on. Would you be able to get them done just as fast without that extra added push of stress? For most of us, the answer is no.
Is Your Stress Healthy?
However, when stress no longer motivates, but begins to “weigh you down”—the fine line between healthy and unhealthy stress has been crossed. If not properly managed, stress will begin to take a toll on your health.
You may exhibit physical symptoms (i.e., fatigue, nausea, and insomnia); mental symptoms (i.e., poor concentration, burnout, and restlessness); social and emotional symptoms (i.e., isolation, anxiety, and feeling insecure), and/or behavioral symptoms (i.e., overeating, undereating, and relationship conflicts).
Know that stress is subjective. Everyone reacts to stress differently and has their own sources of stress called stressors. Your stressors may actually lessen the impact of another person’s stressors. Despite there being different symptoms and sources of stress for each of us, we all have one thing in common—the need to learn how to manage stress.
How to Decrease Stress
In order to decrease the negative effects of stress on our bodies and minds, we need to first pinpoint what exactly is stressing us out. Maybe it’s a fear of finances, work, or a stressful relationship. Or perhaps it’s a big life change, project deadline, or feeling like you’re always “connected.”
Take time to identify your stressor. Next, determine what you can do to make whatever your stressor is stress you out less. For example, if you find making your lunch in the hectic AM is tacking on unneeded stress, make your lunch the night before. If a presentation is stressing you out because you have yet to start it, map out your plan of attack and get the ball rolling. Simply identify, plan, and attack.
Until you uncover your stressors and create a plan of attack, it’ll be hard to move forward.
Here are 6 practical tips to help you destress.
1. Sweat it out. The endorphins from your feel-good workout will boost your mood and so will the feeling of accomplishment from a tough sweat session.
2. Eat healthfully. Amp up your fruit, veggie, and whole grain intake. You’ll find that when you’re eating well, you’ll feel better, be more energized, and have an improved sense of well-being.
3. Learn to say “no.” Sometimes the focus needs to be on you and not on what you “have to do.” Don’t forget that you need personal time too.
4. Keep a journal. Simply writing down how you feel can be a fantastic release, and you may come to find that through journaling lies your answer of exactly what it is that you need to do to live more “stress-free.”
5. Take a deep breath. In times of immediate stress, instantly calm yourself by taking a deep breath in while counting to 10, hold that same breath for 10 seconds, and exhale for 10 seconds. This tool serves as an instant destressor.
6. Communicate. Talk out your feelings with your friends and family, coach, or partner. Sometimes we just need someone to listen.