Stress tends to occur when we are struggling with the demands that are placed on us. This can happen in any area of your life; school, work, or even in relationships. Sometimes it can be beneficial, pushing us into a state of flow that forces us to concentrate and produces a boost of energy, particularly when we have to meet deadlines.
In the long run however, sustained periods of stress is detrimental to our health. If chronic stress goes untreated, serious health conditions can occur, including anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
Developing positive and healthy ways to manage stress can have excellent short term and long-term benefits. As everyone is different, people that regularly find themselves in stressful situations may find different methods have different results. Some prefer pursuing low energy pastimes like gardening, painting or listening to music, whereas other may prefer activities like walking, meditation or yoga
Here are five healthy methods that research has shown to be effective.
- Take a Break – This may seem obvious, but often we are so overcome with a problem that we feel every minute should be dedicated to solving. In the long run this is counter productive. Taking a step back from a work project, and focusing on an alternative activity for a short period of time can give a new perspective on the problem you are facing. Sometimes half an hour is all it takes.
- Exercise – Exercise improves both mental and physical fitness. A long term exercise routine can improve focus and motivation, but even a short gym session will help release pent up energy. It can give an immediate energy burst that can last several hours, and also provide us with a short-term win that will increase confidence when dealing with a stressful issue.
- Laugh – Most of us have heard of laughter yoga. If it works for you – great! But if it doesn’t, try something more subtle like watching a couple of clips of your favourite comedian. Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. So a laugh or a smile can relieve some of the tension and improve the situation. Like yawning, laughter is contagious. No wonder the laughing Buddha is always smiling!
- Get a little help from your friends – A problem shared is a problem halved. Social support can do wonders for stress reduction. The important part of this tip is to seek support from someone that will understand. If your family is a stressor, it may not be beneficial to share your work problems with them. Go to someone you can trust, and you feel will help validate your problem.
- Meditate – Meditation and mindfulness are excellent ways to deal with stress. Through practicing mindfulness, you are developing a set of skills that will prevent you feeling overwhelmed when the next stressful problem arises. There are some excellent resources out there. Check out Calm to get you started.
Best of luck!