How to reduce stress. We all experience it to some degree. Money, work, family, politics – whatever the cause is for you, chances are you are not alone. Keep in mind, not all stress is entirely bad. Sometimes a little stress can be motivating and necessary to get things done. However, when stress becomes chronic or all-consuming, it could be time to take action. Too much stress can not only take a toll on your mental health but can also negatively impact you on a physical level. Before it gets to that point, you could try implementing a few of these simple tips to get yourself back on track and reduce stress:
- Make a List: If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night with a million thoughts running through your mind, this tip may be exactly what you need to get back to sleep. You may find it helpful to keep a journal next to your bed; that way when you wake up feeling like whatever is plaguing you simply cannot wait until morning, you have a place to write it down. That way, you can rest assured you won’t forget, and when you are well-rested and clear headed you can tackle the task at hand. Whenever things start to feel overwhelming, making a list is a great way to organize your thoughts and prioritize your tasks. The gratification you’ll feel when crossing items off your list as you complete them might be just the reward you need to feel less stressed and more accomplished.
- Stay Healthy: The connection between our physical health and our mental well-being is incredibly powerful. When we exercise and eat well, our bodies become energized. When our bodies are energized, we have the strength to complete our to-do lists. When we accomplish what we need to get done, we no longer have to stress about it and our minds can rest at ease and reduce stress.
- Take a Deep Breath: Short, shallow breathing is synonymous with stress. When you are stressed and your breathing is quick and sharp, you tap into your sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the side of your nervous system that is responsible for your “Fight or Flight” response. Your body may feel like it either needs to run away or prepare for battle. Conversely, when you take deep, full inhales and long, slow exhales, you tune into your parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is your “Rest and Digest” side, the side of your nervous system that tells your body it is okay to be calm. Next time someone tells you to chill out and take a deep breath, keep in mind there may actually be something behind that.
- Phone a Friend: Sometimes all it takes to reduce stress is a good laugh, a strong hug, or a person to vent to.
- Reflect: Often times, the things that are stressing us out are simply asking for our attention. Taking the time and space to reflect on what is calling your attention in life is an important step to making a decision about whether or not it deserves your energy. It is up to you to decide what is worthy of your energy, and what is not.