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Stress can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to reduce stress before if becomes a problem.
If stress is not managed properly, it can build up and decrease your quality of life.
First, you need to figure out why you’re stressed. We all have a lot going on and usually it’s only one or two things that are causing the stress. Being able to pinpoint exactly why you’re stressed out will help you be able to manage that stress better.
Additionally, knowing the cause will help you pick out the appropriate way to help reduce stress.
So, let’s get to it!
WHAT IS STRESS?
To successfuly reduce stress, first you need to understand what stress is and why it happens.
So, what is stress exactly?
Stress is your body’s natural response to a threat or demand. When your body sense that it is in danger, your stress response will kick in. The stress response is also known as the “fight or flight” response.
This response is how your body protects you from danger, threats or demands.
Stress can come form positive things too like a new job, marriage, having a baby, etc. so it’s not always something negative.
THE STRESS RESPONSE
When your body senses danger, your nervous system will kick in to help protect you. This is where signs of stress come in. These hormones make your heart rate and blood pressure go up so your body is prepared to fight or flee. This response also causes you to breathe faster and tense up your muscles.
Obviously, something like getting married is not something you need to fight or flee. But, your body thinks it is! It still sees that change as a threat and will act accordingly.
Unfortunately, your body can’t tell the difference between something actually life threatening and something less dangerous like starting a new job.
WHY STRESS IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH
Stress impacts every aspect of our lives. This is especially true in how our bodies manifest signs of stress.
Here are some very common ways stress affects our bodies:
Wow, right? And that’s only some of the stress can affect you! See, that’s why it’s imperative to properly reduce stress levels!
WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
So, now that we know all about stress, how do we actually manage stress? There are tons of ways to reduce stress and you may need to try different ones to find what works for you and your body.
Not everyone deals with stress the same way, therefore everyone will need different techniques to reduce stress.
POSITIVE SELF TALK
If you are constantly thinking negative thoughts and doubting yourself, that will add to your stress levels.
For example, say you have a big deadline at work you are trying to get done. Then something comes up that needs your attention right then. And you think “I don’t have time for this” or “I’ll never be able to finish both,” of course you’ll be stressed!
What if, instead, you thought “I can do this” or “It will be okay?” You’ll be able to accomplish so much more because you’re being positive, you’re telling yourself it is possible!
Think about it, if you were in that situation, what would stress you out more? Thinking that you’ll never be able to finish or thinking that you are good enough to do it?
With regular exercise, you can boost your mood and become happier and reduce stress at the same time! Exercising can also help distract you from your stress and worries.
While you exercise, focus your attention on what your body is doing. Whether you’re running, swimming, walking, lifting weights or doing yoga, bring your attention to how your body is moving and the physical sensations while you are exercising.
This will allow your mind to relax and stop the constant worry that comes with stress. In turn, this will help decrease your stress levels because you aren’t solely focusing on your stress!
Essential oils are a great (and easy) way to practice aromatherapy and deal with stress. They have benefits like relaxation, anxiety relief, calming properties, etc that will all help with reducing stress.
When you’re feeling stressed out, a little lavender oil can go a long, long way. It smells great and will help you calm down within a few minutes.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use essential oils, check out my essential oils guide!
Practicing meditation is the best way to instantly relieve stress. Plus, with regular meditation, you’re learning how to actually manage stress levels instead of just improving stress in the short term.
Meditation involves being “in the moment” so to speak. Find a quiet place to sit or lay down, close your eyes and focus on your breath. When you focus on your breathe, you will not be able to think about what you’re stressed about.
There are many different ways to practice meditation and you will need to experience what works best for you. Meditation does take practice, but it’s one of the best ways to live a stress free life.
Check out my beginner’s guide to meditation here!
Writing down your thoughts, worries and stress can be very cathartic and instantly reduce stress. It’s a great way to express your feelings and let go of those worries in the moment.
There are many journals out there with prompts that will help you decide what to write. Or, you can just get a piece of paper and write down whatever comes to mind.
Ever heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine?” Laughter has been shown to reduce stress levels by relaxing your body and releasing endorphins.
My favorite way to laugh? Watch a comedy movie or funny videos on YouTube. There are endless ways to get some laughs in throughout the day to keep your stress levels down.
Laughter is the best medicine, after all.
This may sound simple, but when you’re stressed, you breathe faster. By focusing on your breath you can reduce your body’s stress response.
Take slow, deep breaths when you feel yourself getting stressed. Count to 10 as you breathe in, and again when you breathe out. Repeat until you feel yourself relaxing.
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it stimulates your nervous system, which can cause your stress response to increase. You can make your stress levels worse just by drinking too much coffee!
Caffeine has also been shown to increase cortisol levels, which is a stress response hormone.
You don’t have to give up coffee completely, I promise. I love my coffee and will never ever give it up.
However, if you are one of those people that drink coffee literally all day, then you need to cut back. I’m sorry but no one needs that much coffee!
If you drink it because you are tired or don’t sleep good, then try some techniques to sleep better so you don’t have to depend on the caffeine.
If you drink it because you like the taste or to warm up, then switch to decaf after a couple cups.
TALK IT OUT
Call up your best friend, your mom or anyone who will listen and just vent. Tell them your worries, your feelings, what is stressing you out. I promise, you will instantly feel much better!
Having someone to chat with about these things is like having your own therapist! It’s essential to have someone you trust and can turn to when things get rough.
Plus, it will make you feel better knowing that you have someone you can turn to.
AVOID UNNECESSARY STRESS
Sometimes in order to reduce stress, you need to cut things out. Certain lifestyle habits or even people can cause a ton of unnecessary stress in your life.
If you’re trying to fit a weeks worth of work and activities into 2 days, you’re going to be stressed! If you stretch yourself too thin, you’re going to be stressed!
Reduce your to-do list, say no to people who are asking too much from you, and avoid people who cause you extra stress.
Going for a walk, enjoying the scenery and breathing in that fresh air can be an instant stress relief! Sometimes you just need a chance of pace or a little break to unwind.
Take a walk around your neighborhood or walk around your local park. Enjoy the sunshine and nice weather.
MAKE TIME FOR SELF CARE
First, remember how we talked about avoiding unnecessary stress and how you need to shorten your to do list? Well, now that you have all that extra time, use it for self care.
The good thing about self care is that it can be anything you want it to be! Find something that relaxes you and that you enjoy and there you go.
The point of self care is to give yourself some “me time.” Give yourself a break from life’s demands, worries, stress etc. It’s putting yourself first.
Not sure how to practice self care? Check out my simple self care ideas post!
Successfully reducing stress takes commitment and lifestyle changes, but it’s very important to manage your stress levels. Stress is hard on your mental and physical health and can have many detrimental effects on your body.
Hopefully, this post gave you some motivation to try and reduce stress and how you can go about doing that. What are your favorite ways to reduce stress? Let me know below in the comments!