Sometimes, stress can be good for you. It gives you the motivation to complete difficult tasks. Successfully managing stress provides feelings of satisfaction and confidence in your ability to handle challenging situations. A certain amount of stress is necessary for an organism to thrive.
When faced with stressful situations, your body responds with a fight or flight response. While this may be a good response for an animal that is about to become a predator’s meal, it has limited utility in our modern lives. In fact, if your stress becomes chronic, it could cause serious health challenges.
So how can you cut down on your stress?
Chronic stress is related to many health problems, but you can make some choices that make it easier to cope.:
1. Cope actively. Those who have the most success at controlling stress focus on taking charge of situations and seeking solutions. If you avoid challenges and wait until they get worse, you’re compounding your stress instead of reducing it.
2. Choose how you perceive stressful circumstances. Your thoughts on a particular situation have more impact on your future in that situation than the situation itself does.
Will you be a victim, and feel worse, or will you take action to do what you can to make it better?
3. Relax and defuse your body’s stress response. It’s difficult to exercise direct control over many aspects of your physical stress response. Take a moment and just try to will your heart rate and blood pressure to a lower level! Doesn’t work, does it? However, you do have a lot of control over your breathing, both the rate and the depth.
- Sitting in a quiet place, closing your eyes, and taking slow, deep breaths can perform miracles. Take a slow, deep breath, hold it for 3-5 seconds, and then release it slowly as if you are blowing bubbles.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is all the rage today, but it has been around for thousands of years. The best way to avoid a lot of stress is to stay focused on whatever task you have at hand. If you’re folding laundry, you should only be thinking about folding laundry, not thinking about work, bills, or anything else.
- It’s essentially impossible to be stressed in the present moment. In reality, when you’re stressed, you’re either stressing about the past or future. You’re either getting upset about something that’s over or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet.
4. Get some exercise. A fight or flight response dumps a lot of chemicals into your body that get everything revved up. Keep stress at bey by burning off those chemicals with exercise.
- There’s no reason to overdo it but moving your body around in a vigorous fashion will make you feel a lot better.
5. Take good care of yourself. A healthy diet and adequate sleep may be more important than you realize. Your body needs nutritious foods to have a clean energy source. It also needs the proper rest to de-stress and heal from the rigors of the day.
- Find some stress-free activities that you can enjoy regularly. Maybe golf or hiking is your thing. Maybe volunteering makes you feel better. Find a new hobby that engages your mind, like chess or learning the guitar.
6. Be proactive. It is much easier to get your stress level under control when it first starts to rise. When your stress is reaching maximum levels, it’s almost too late at that point to regain control.
- Pay attention to your body and mind. When you first start becoming stressed, take the appropriate steps to bring it down.
Stress can be very damaging to your health and your happiness. Animal studies have shown that lifespan is reduced when an animal is subjected to constant stress. Take the necessary steps to get your stress level as low as reasonably possible. The quality of your life will improve and you’ll be happier.