To a certain degree, stress is inevitable. Still, it should be manageable, and if you feel like you've been spread too thin, there are ways to fight back.
There's no magic, fix-it-all solution to stress—rather, there are a bunch of different things you can do to handle it. And that's only logical, seeing as stress doesn't come from a single source. Your finances, relationship troubles, work, family life, and many other situations can all contribute to your stress levels and cause everything from depression and anxiety to premature aging, chronic migraines, heart disease, and a bunch of other things you really don't want.
So, what can you do about it? Don't worry, here are a few tips help you find your inner calm.
Keep a Journal
Pop culture would have you believe that only sullen teenagers keep journals, but it really is an excellent tool for stress management. It helps you with the first step of battling stress, which is recognizing that it exists and where it comes from.
Taking the time to think about your stressors long enough to put them "on paper" is often all you need to realize the root of your problems. Plus, the act of writing has long been one of the most effective emotional releases.
Find a Fresh Perspective
Sometimes, it's important to take a step back from your thoughts and feelings and try to view them objectively. By nature, nothing is stressful on its own, it's simply a mental state that shows how you perceive certain events and/or emotions.
Of course, this doesn't mean your stress isn't real or valid—just looking at its source from a new point of view or "cognitive reframing" can be enough to lower your stress levels.
Get Better Sleep
Cortisol is the primary "stress" hormone and levels are increased when your sleep is disrupted. Ensuring you're getting enough sleep, and ensuring it's good-quality sleep, is a relatively simple way to allow your body to recover from stress.
Eat More Oatmeal
There's a reason why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it's a good practice to eat something filling and hot before you start a day that you expect to be stressful.
Oatmeal is great for this because it takes just a couple of minutes to make, and it's jam-packed with the complex carbohydrates that you need for sustained energy throughout your morning. Additionally, slow-burning carbs help with serotonin release, bringing you a sense of calmness and lowering stress.
Remove Simple Sugars
Of course, people who are into fitness know that all types of carbohydrates aren't that great for your diet—but did you know they also influenced your stress levels? Simple carbs are the worst offenders here. Refined sugar, white flour, and processed drinks and food trigger a blood glucose spike—soon followed by an inevitable crash. This always leaves you with a considerable energy low, making it harder to make it through your day and raising your stress levels.
Perform Deep Breathing Exercises
One of the most common symptoms of stress is shallow, rapid breathing—which is precisely what you don't need to alleviate stress. Considering that, you should practice more controlled, deeper breathing for the next time you're feeling overwhelmed by stress.
A minute of deep breathing will allow more oxygen to enter your brain and body, resulting in a calm sensation—one that puts you in the right state to overcome your current emotions.
Take a Walk
You've probably realized this already, but regular exercise is an excellent (and productive) stress remedy. Don't be intimidated by exhausting, intense workout sessions if you're not used to them. Start small. Even a brisk, 10-minute walk will be enough to get you into a more relaxed state of mind.
This is especially true for work-related stress; getting away from your screen and taking yourself out of the stressful context physically will give you a much-needed breather and allow you to refocus before diving back in.
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Have Some Dark Chocolate
Yes, you've just been told to cut down on simple sugar—but realistically speaking, most people aren't used to living completely candy-free. And you don't always need to deny yourself indulgences to the point of misery, just find a way to manage them properly.
Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate (when consumed in strict moderation) can help with stress management without derailing your diet, so feel free to satisfy those chocolate cravings when stressed.
Start a New Hobby
With the multi-pronged stresses of adult life closing in all around you, it's easy to feel boxed in with no time for yourself. A good way to stop feeling like you're struggling and reclaim control of your schedule is to set aside some time to do an activity you like.
Try to find a hobby that's positive and engaging. And yes, working out is one of the best hobbies you can have—it improves your self-image, your health, and it's known to help with stress, anxiety, and depression.
We have everything you need to set yourself up for your favorite healthy hobby.