Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress
We all encounter stressful situations in our daily lives, and sometimes it can be hard to manage our stress in healthy ways. Often, stress leaves us feeling mentally and physically exhausted, and in those times, we frequently want to zone out, and not deal with our stressors in healthy or sustainable ways. Some may turn to smoking to deal with stress, even though nicotine addiction can actually cause more stress. Other people often choose to play video games or veg out in front of the television to destress, and while watching a tv show, or playing a video game can be fun hobbies, if you are using these as ways to avoid coping with your stress, you may find yourself even more anxious and unhappy. These unhealthy coping mechanisms can even be damaging to your physical health as well. Finding new ways and healthier habits to manage your stress can increase your happiness and even improve your health. Let’s explore three ways you can manage your stress to create a happy, healthy, and more relaxed lifestyle.
Understand Your Triggers
Certain situations may cause you to stress out more than others. It is important to know what causes you stress so that you can either avoid the situation or learn how to manage it. In some circumstances, you can simply avoid your triggers altogether. For instance, if you get very anxious in large crowds, avoid going to concerts, parades and other places where you will feel overwhelmed and anxious.
On the other hand, you may not be able to completely avoid your stressors. For example, if driving in rush hour traffic causes panic and makes you stress the rest of the day, but you must be at work at 8 am, you will need to find ways to deal with the stress of driving in heavy traffic. If there are certain stressful situations you simply can’t avoid, try altering your mindset about the situation:
- Instead of bottling your feelings up, discuss them in a calm respectful manner to the person causing stress, or if you can’t talk to that person, tell a friend or even tell yourself. Example: It is worrisome when cars drive so close behind me, but I am confident they are paying close attention and will not cause an accident.
- Try to put a positive spin on the situation. If you try hard enough you can find the good in almost any situation. So, instead of focusing on how stressful the traffic is, think about how glad you are that you get a full hour to listen to your favorite podcast before you start work.
Exercise is good for just about everything. Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise three times per week can dramatically reduce the amount of stress we feel in our daily lives. If exercise is brand new to you, here are a few ways you can incorporate it into your life:
- Start small. Talking a short walk around your neighborhood after dinner is a good place to start.
- Establish a routine. At first, it may be hard to incorporate exercise, but if you stick to a short routine every day for a few weeks, you will see that you can adjust your schedule a bit to fit it in.
- Walk or do yoga during your lunch break. You don’t really need a full hour to eat. And remember that being too sedentary can lead to more stress. Taking half your lunch break to walk around the building, join a yoga class, or do a few stretches in your office will help you to feel much more relaxed.
Write it Down
Journaling is a great way to deal with stress. It can help you establish new habits, figure out what your stress triggers are, and gives you space to practice positive self-talk. You can find guided journals to give you topics to think and write about, but even a blank notebook works. Here are a few ways you can start journaling:
- Write down one positive thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours
- List three things you are grateful for. Try to think of three different things each day.
- Set an intention for the day. Try something like “I intend to be calm, cool and collected today by exercising, adjusting my mindset and remembering what I’m grateful for”
Dealing with stress in healthier ways leads to a happier, healthier life. It can feel overwhelming to tackle a new habit when you are already stressed out as it is, but try incorporating one new habit at a time, and notice how much better you feel when you start coping with your stress in a healthful manner.