Are you feeling overwhelmed by life and all its demands? You’re not alone. Stress is a normal part of life and can impact your emotional health. In this week’s blog you’ll find 5 stress management strategies to improve your baseline stress levels.
Stress can significantly affect us in more ways than we realize. This leads to fatigue and poor concentration, headaches, digestive problems, muscle tension, and other issues. It can also lead to more severe health conditions such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Stress can even affect our immune system causing us to be more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and flu. Not only that, it can cause insomnia, affecting our daily functioning and overall sense of well-being. If left unchecked, it can even lead to depression or anxiety disorders.
Learning how to cope with stress effectively is important to maintaining physical and mental health. Here are 5 stress management strategies that could help you regain control, find balance and protect your mental health.
5 Stress Management Strategies
Identify Your Stressors
A first step in successful stress management is awareness of the situations, people, and activities that tend to cause stress. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how specific daily triggers can worsen their stress levels.
Identifying your key stressors will help you become more mindful of them. Thus, creating an opportunity to tackle them rather than letting stressed feelings linger.
An excellent way to start is by keeping a journal and noting when an activity or event stresses you out. This allows you to become aware of your emotional state and spot patterns, circumstances and activities that cause you stress. You can also use this journal to recognize when you feel overwhelmed and need to take a break from whatever is causing the stress.
Once you have identified your main stressors, it is important to take steps to manage them proactively. For example, if long commutes are a giant stress source, consider taking a different route or leaving for work earlier. Additionally, planning ahead can help you avoid last-minute rushes or unexpected delays that can lead to heightened stress levels.
Adopt Healthy Coping Techniques
It’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms to help you manage stress more effectively. This may be something physical, such as yoga or running, having a massage or taking time to relax and meditate. Self-care activities can also be helpful, like writing in a diary or journal, reading an inspiring book or learning something new. These strategies can help you to face challenges and stressful situations more confidently.
Writing down feelings or thoughts in a diary can help clear mental space by allowing for reflection on experiences and working through difficulties with greater clarity.
Reading inspiring books can open up perspectives on life and provide support during challenging times. Similarly, dedicating time to learning something new provides opportunities for growth and expanding horizons beyond the stressful situation at hand.
Yoga, running, or other physical activities can also help relieve stress by providing an outlet for emotions and releasing endorphins to make us feel good. Massages are another effective way of calming our minds, hitting the pause button and giving ourselves permission to relax.
Taking time for reflection allows us to take a break from running on autopilot, check in with ourselves and become aware of our feelings and thoughts.
These are just a few of the 5 stress management strategies.
Read on for more.
Build a Support Network
Building a support network is essential to ensuring a healthy, happy life. It’s important to connect with emotionally supportive and understanding people who will be there for you and help you through difficult times.
A good support network could include family members, such as parents, siblings, or extended relatives; friends you trust and can rely on; teachers or mentors at school; colleagues from work; or even professionals like therapists and doctors. These relationships can help to reduce stress levels and improve mental health by providing someone to talk to when needed.
It’s also beneficial to get out into the community and try new activities that allow you to meet new people and build connections. For example, joining a club or team sport, volunteering in your local area, or taking a class can help expand your social circle while also allowing you to develop skills such as communication, leadership, or problem-solving.
Having solid friendships through which we can share experiences and feelings is a great way to promote self-care and increase happiness in our lives. Additionally, engaging in meaningful conversations with those in our support network can help us gain insight into different perspectives on life’s challenges and opportunities.
The key takeaway is that having someone we feel comfortable talking with is crucial for emotional well-being in our daily lives. We should always strive to create meaningful connections with people around us so that we know we have someone reliable who will be there for us no matter what happens.
A strong support network is a blessing everyone should take the time to build!
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that helps to reduce stress and improve overall emotional health. Focusing on the present moment with purpose and without judgment is one of the main benefits of mindfulness. This allows us to ground ourselves in the here and now. With practice, mindfulness leads to greater clarity, insight, relaxation, and focus, which can help lead to a healthier emotional state.
Moreover, meditation is another way to practice mindfulness. Various techniques range from deep breathing exercises to progressive muscle relaxation, to calming visual imagery practices. Taking even just a few minutes out of your day to perform any of these strategies can provide significant results in terms of stress reduction and emotional well-being.
If you’re interested in giving it a go but not sure where to start? I suggest starting the Waking Up app. The introductory course is one of my favourites out there. In addition, you can grab a 30-day free trial courtesy of the Huberman Lan Podcast if you click this link. https://www.wakingup.com/huberman
And, of course, if you’re in Vancouver, Lucia Light meditation is available. The Lucia light is a form of brain entrainment that induces a deep state of relaxation. If you’d like to give it a try, you can book a demo session here.
Exercise and Get Plenty of Sleep
Exercise is an incredibly effective way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Studies have shown that regular physical activity helps to boost self-esteem and reduce anxiety, depression, and symptoms of stress. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins – hormones that act as natural painkillers, which helps to improve your mood and overall energy levels.
Additionally, serotonin and other neurotransmitters also help to elevate your feelings of happiness. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day; this could be in the form of walking, running, cycling, swimming, or any type of movement activity that brings you joy. It’s important to remember that exercising doesn’t have to mean going to a gym; even a brisk walk outdoors is beneficial for your mind and body
Getting enough rest is essential for managing stress levels too. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Everyone is different. Some people are morning larks waking before 6am while others are night owls. I’m a morning person. I personally have a hard time staying up past 9pm and I’m awake around 520 every morning. I’ve spent time working on an evening routine that allows sleep to come easily on most nights. There’s still the occasional night of sleeplessness but to me that feels normal. We can’t expect to sleep perfectly every night. Perfect doesn’t exist.
There is an optimal amount of rest needed to restore your body’s energy levels during the recovery process though. Allowing yourself enough time to get restful sleep will help ensure that you’re able to manage stress more effectively during the day. In addition, having healthy sleeping habits can help positively regulate hormones associated with mood regulation.
“It’s clear, both exercise AND rest play important roles in managing stress”
As such, it’s clear that both exercise and rest are important aspects of managing stress in the long term. Taking time for reflection and connection are important too. Reflections, both inward and outward, plus connection to yourself, your body and others.
When these 5 strategies are combined with healthy lifestyle choices such as eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water throughout the day, reducing caffeine intake before bedtime, avoiding alcohol consumption prior to bedtime etc., they can really make all the difference when it comes to finding better ways to cope with stress.
I truly hope these 5 stress management strategies will make a difference in your mental, emotional and physical well-being.