Stress is a very natural thing – it does occur from time to time and our bodies know how to deal with it. The true difficulty arises when we deal with constant low-level stress, which we often don’t even notice. Or maybe we just underrate it. Long-term stress is absolutely unhealthy for you, it leads to oxidation which makes you age faster, it makes you gain fat and makes your sleep everything but restful.Thankfully, there are ways to cope with stress before we burn out.
Yes, exercise helps with almost everything. But don’t worry – you don’t have to wake up at 5 am to go to the gym if you don’t want to. There are many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily routine. Walk to work (or park your car further away so you get a few more steps in). Take the stairs. Stand up every 30 minutes to improve your circulation. Stretch. Use your break to go for a walk. Walk your dog. Go to a yoga or pilates class. Exercise should never feel like something you HAVE to do. Try new things and find out what feels right for you. Maybe you will find yourself enjoying running, hiking, swimming, rope skipping, dancing, boxing, etc., there are literally hundreds of options available!
2. Find something that makes you feel relaxed
Easier said than done. You will have to put some observation work into this one. Watch yourself and find out what makes you feel less stressed. Does playing with your cat make you forget your stress and feel happy and loved? Or does a warm bath take all your sorrows away? Maybe you prefer a long walk through the forrest to make you feel like you have it all under control? Think about what really helps you calm down. Listen to your body. Maybe all you need is your favorite book and a cup of tea. Or a warm blanket and your favorite movie? Be aware of what you already do to help you release stress. If you haven’t tried any of these things yet, go on and try them! I personally love to go on a bus ride through the city and just look outside the window, it works wonders for me. Finding your holy grail for relaxation is worth the effort, trust me!
The next step is to use it! Whenever you feel stressed, do what helps you! This might seem obvious, but many people know that a hot shower will help them and they still decide to not use them or to turn to ‘easier’ helpers – which we will talk about in a second.
I’m sure you’ve already heard this one a thousand times. But trust me, it works. Make meditation a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be long, ten minutes twice a day are enough. It is really easy to find guided meditations on YouTube, Spotify, etc. or download an app which will help you. Try different types of meditation: silent meditation, guided meditation, chanting, active meditation, and so on. If you don’t like one, that is fine. Just try a different one. After you’ve found your favorite, the key is to make it a habit. Wake up, meditate, go on with your day, meditate before bed, sleep. Or what ever works best for you. Meditation has so many incredible benefits for your mind, body and spirit. Try it!
4. Don’t take the easy way out
Many of us have coping strategies that do not support our health. Yes, chocolate will make us feel good, but chocolate every day for months will make us feel rather bad when we gain weight. Same with alcohol and drugs, which will harm our health in other ways. The difference between the already mentioned strategies and these harmful ones is that food and drugs help us suppress the problem but it doesn’t just go away. Exercise and meditation help you deal with it so that you will learn how to deal with stress and there will be a learning curve so that it will get easier and easier. It is okay to indulge in a delicious brownie once in a while, just be aware it should not be used to distract you from your worries.
5. It’s all about perspective
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to flourish under stressful circumstances while others break down? It is all about how you perceive the situation. You do always have the choice to see a situation as a challenge or as a problem. The latter perspective will cause distress because you feel like you don’t have a choice or that everything is just too much to handle for you. On the other hand side, if you see the situation as a challenge, i.g. an opportunity to show your abilities and to grow, it will cause eustress, which is a positive kind of stress. Even though this shift might seem insignificant, it can make a huge difference. Try it. When your boss gives you a task that might seem too difficult for you – accept the challenge and watch what happens!
These hacks will help you, but don’t forget that you can always ask for help and talk to people. We are only human.
Also, sometimes it might be advisable to rethink your job, your partner, your friends, etc., if they are constantly stressing you and making your life miserable. There is always a way out and who knows what you will find outside of that place that makes you feel so unhappy?