11 Ways to Combat Stress
You might not realize it, but stress may be affecting your quality of life and performance at work. It’s never a good practice to ignore feelings of constant tension.
Indicators of Stress
Stress can affect several different areas and systems of the body. Understanding the symptoms of stress can help you manage the body’s response and ward off serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
The mayoclinic.org lists the common signs of stress like poor sleep, headaches, weight loss or gain, feelings of isolation and hopelessness, loss of interest in everyday activities, obsessive thinking, and an inability to concentrate or focus.
Stress Management Strategies
To help combat everyday stressors, here are some simple skills to help you reduce stress, better cope, and understand what is going on inside your body.
- Maintain a Sense of Humor
Laughter is the best medicine. It’s no joke. According to verywellmind.com, laughter or a healthy sense of humor can help you deal with tough times and is a powerful way to improve your overall health. In addition, Mayo Clinic shares that laughter can stimulate organs and circulation, relieve stress, and strengthen your immune system.
- Move Your Body Daily
We’re all busy. It can be challenging to change our exercise habits, but it’s never too late to start. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or special equipment to incorporate movement into your routine. A simple 15-20 minute walk a couple of times a week can do wonders for our health. Start slow, and as you feel better, increase the duration and intensity. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.
- Connect with Your Support Group
Take time to connect with others, especially those who understand you and are good listeners. Connecting with people who support you can help you feel better by allowing you to share what’s on your mind, reducing stress.
- Pick Up a Hobby
Consider interests that align with what you like to do or pick up something completely different than your regular activities. Interests such as hiking, gardening, reading, music, art, and other creative pursuits will reduce stress, lower the heart rate, and even provide a new perspective on life.
- Focus on Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important factors in helping to reduce stress and can be life-changing. Set a goal of getting at least eight to ten hours of sleep each night. Turn off devices or screens at least one hour before going to bed, and pay attention to your caffeine intake later in the day. Keep in mind that your body won’t tolerate stress well if it’s overtired or lacking sleep.
It’s hard to take time away, and for those who are super busy, a vacation may seem unattainable. However, getting out of the routine can reset your stress tolerance and improve mental and emotional clarity, which will improve your outlook on life and help you to manage stress more effectively. If leaving town isn’t an option, try staying home and exploring your local area. A staycation can be equally beneficial as a faraway trip.
- Work Smarter Not Harder
Finding tools, technology, and processes that help you do more with less can reduce stress and increase productivity; while overly manual ways of accomplishing tasks can bog you down. For example, electronic children’s check-in can help save time, reduce manual work, provide access to important data, and increase the time available to spend with families. Included features such as touchless Express Check-In which allows families to quickly and easily check-in on their mobile device, Roster Check-In which provides a real-time digital roster replacing clipboards, and Check-In Surveys which gathers information automatically at check-in, all increase productivity and reduce manual work.
- Rebalance Work and Life
It’s easy to put our heads down and grind out the daily tasks and initiatives on our to-do lists. However, there can be an imbalance in how we manage our work and life routines without even realizing it. Stress increases when this happens, and we stop enjoying time alone or with others. Try looking at your to-do list and think about intentionally designing your day. For example, include one or two activities you love to do, limit what needs to be completed to three to five tasks, and restructure commitments that take too much time. This will set you up for success, reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and help reset the schedule.
- Pray, Mediate, or use a Relaxation Technique
Quiet times often get put on the back burner when life is busy. For some, even thinking about slowing down and tuning out life’s noise can be stressful, but achieving a state of restfulness for your mind and body can do wonders for your health. If you already have an active prayer life, try mixing it up and going outside, journaling, or using a deep breathing technique to quiet yourself.
- Eat Well
Medical research has found that over 80 percent of what we consume nutritionally directly impacts, either negatively or positively, the overall state of our health. For example, sugar, caffeine, bad fats, and over-processed carbohydrates can temporarily feel like they reduce stress, but they do tremendous damage to our bodies in the long term. Bodies that are well-fed cope better. Start with small changes by avoiding foods you know aren’t helpful.
- Seek Counseling, Life Coaching, or a Therapist
There is nothing wrong with needing a little outside professional help. Especially if you are experiencing negative or suicidal thoughts that overwhelm and consume you to a point where making any positive change is impossible. Seeking outside help can be considered taboo, but that is not true. There are experienced counselors available who specialize in different areas and faiths. Finding someone you can openly talk with who can help you is cathartic and a lifesaver.
Looking at this list may cause stress, but keep in mind many of the suggestions can be combined. For example, spending time with your support group and exercising, or using a relaxation technique and focusing on getting better sleep.
The point is to choose what best works for you and start there. Incorporate things that easily fit and focus long-term on what takes more effort. Even if you can only incorporate one item, you will feel better and reduce stress.
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Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash