Who doesn’t have some stress in their lives now and then? Sure, some of us have more stress present than others, but to some degree we all encounter stress on a daily basis: a traffic jam sending you into a temporary frenzy; spilling a cup of coffee on your favorite white blouse; the kids fighting at the breakfast table over who gets the first glass of orange juice. However, some stress is much more, well, stressful. A sick spouse, a lost job, major automobile repair costs, death in the family, dissolution of a relationship—these are definitely some major stressors. Nonetheless, how we respond to the stress can make a huge difference in our health and the relationships around us. Here are a few suggestions on ways to cope with and minimize the impact of stress:
Take some time to get your heart pumping at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes or more. Try different options until you find something you really enjoy. The thought of exercising becomes a lot less daunting if you are going to have fun or be with someone whom you enjoy. Exercise may feel like the last thing you have the energy and time for, but believe us: it is worth every second and will get easier.
Take up a new hobby, or rekindle an old one
Chronic stress and adrenal fatigue can leave you feeling flat and downright joyless. Doing something that once brought you joy can do wonders for stress relief. Don’t feel bad for needing ‘me’ time; you’re likely to feel worse for not getting it. Go hiking with a friend; read a book from cover to cover; plant the garden you’ve been daydreaming about; enroll in a pottery class. Expand your horizons and stretch your limits in trying something new and challenging.
Adopt healthy lifestyle choices
Just making a few healthy choices can create some positive changes in your life that can be permanent. Start with something easy like adding 3 fresh fruits or veggies to your diet each day for a week. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Commit to getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night. These small changes can lead to even bigger changes that can help you manage stress so much more effectively.
Organize and prioritize tasks
It’s easy to think about everything you need and want to be done and get overwhelmed before getting started. Creating a daily “to-do list” helps to visualize what needs to be done and prioritize the things that aren’t as important. Planning also helps to use your time efficiently by determining how important tasks are and how quickly they must get done. Pick your battles, and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks.
That’s right—unplug from all the devices that seem to be controlling us more than we’re controlling them. Make it a habit to shut down and put away that cell phone, laptop, or tablet about an hour or two before bedtime. Have some family time. Read a physical book or magazine. It’s hard to separate our work lives from our personal lives these days with all of the efficiency of mobile devices, but try this just twice a week to start and you may be surprised at how relaxed you find yourself.
Practice breathing techniques
Breathing exercises vary, but can be as simple as closing your eyes, taking a breath and counting to 10 while exhaling slowly. Yoga also utilizes some fantastic breathing techniques and does wonders for reducing stress. Devoting 10 minutes of your day to quiet time and relaxation can be a great way to ease the tension created by stress.
Incorporating one or all of these suggestions can help minimize your reaction to stress. You will feel empowered and Once you realize that stress does not have to control your life, you can empower yourself with the ability to better manage it.