Nobody can escape stress 100% of the time, (and if you’ve figured out to do this, please share your magical secrets!). It is something that can get the better of us sometimes, and can have a negative effect on our health and well-being. Stress can increase the release of cortisol which can increase the risk of cardiac issues. It can toil with our emotional well-being making us more irritable or reactive to something that would otherwise not bother us. Stress is a sneaky devil that can creep up on us. It is important to learn to manage our stress to try to decrease these negative effects that it can have on our bodies and minds.
Here are some ideas to help decrease the effect of stress on our lives:
1. Get active: go on a hike, walk the dog, hop on a bike, hit the gym, practice yoga. Whatever it is you enjoy, do it! Physical activity has repeated been linked to better mood. Yay endorphins!
2. Eat something healthy: when we are stressed, we tend to reach for the chips or the chocolates or junk foods because these can stimulate reward centres in the brain. If we grab something healthy though, we are giving our bodies the nutrition needed to decrease stress effects.
3. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for: practicing gratitude can help to decrease the stress response. It also forces you to re-frame things, so instead of focusing on the negative things that can bring on stress, you are focusing on the positive.
4. Practice some deep breathing: big breath in, expand the ribcage and the diaphragm, then let it all go. Let each inhale/exhale last for 5 seconds or so. This is a simple one, but it has proven effects on decreasing stress.
5. Call a friend or make a coffee date: just vent. Saying it out loud can help decrease the pressure you’re feeling.
6. Hang out with kids: your kids, your nieces or nephews, grandkids. Kids can be hilarious, and the innocence they show can help you forget about whatever is stressing you out.
7. Hang out with a pet: animals are wonderful stress-relievers. I’m pretty sure they’re magic. If you don’t have a pet of your own, volunteer to take a friend’s dog for a walk or visit a local shelter for animal cuddles.
8. Look through old photo albums: go through old albums (either on paper or on the computer) that have some happy times in them. Nostalgia can be a great tool in feeling less stress as you sit and remember fun times with wonderful people.
9. Read some inspirational quotes: sometimes they’re cliche, but sometimes you find one that strikes a chord with you. Start a pinterest board of quote you like so you can quickly refer to them when you’re having an off-day.
10. Write it down: write down what’s stressing you out. Getting it down on paper can help to reduce the stressful feelings. If you need something extra after writing it down, burn that piece of paper with all of the stressful things on it.
11. Read for pleasure: reading can be a wonderful way to escape. And I don’t know about you, but that musty book smell really calms me down too!
12. Do something nice for somebody else: bring flowers to a friend, buy a stranger’s cup of coffee, show up to your partner’s office to take them to lunch, it can be anything. Making somebody else smile will make you smile too.
13. Listen to music: jam out to your favourite playlist, whatever that is. Music can make you feel emotions, and it can demonstrate such a wide array. Listen to something that reflects the way you are feeling now, or go the opposite and listen to something that makes you feel how you want to feel.
14. Laugh it off: watch a funny movie, or go see a stand up comic. Laughter can reduce the physical effects of stress on the body (e.g. fatigue)
15. Take a nap: stress might be due to lack of sleep, and the effects of sleep deprivation are many. Take a nap, or resolve to go to bed earlier to get a good night’s sleep.
16. Get outside: no you don’t have to go on some epic hike to get the stress-reducing benefits of the natural world around us. Go have a picnic in a nearby park, or just sit out on your patio. Being outside can do wonders for you, especially in this day and age of screens (tv, phone, tablet, computer, etc.)
Of course you may have some ideas of your own and that’s cool too! Whatever way you prefer to cope with your stress, learning to take care of yourself is a very useful and health-promoting skill.
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