Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Proven strategies for stress relief

It’s no secret that life can be stressful, but sometimes work related stress might tip you over the edge.

To some degree stress is healthy and it forces us to think harder, work harder and ultimately overcome the causer of stress in that moment. But there’s a fine line where too much cortisol (your stress hormone) can begin to cause genuine physical and mental problems.

After all, stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, anger, strong mood swings and usage of substances in an attempt to alter mood. This is where stress management skills are essential to provide stress relief.

What’s causing it?

The first step in stress management and strategising your stress relief is dependent on finding the root cause.

Whether its work, family, relationships, finances, health or a number of things – it’s important to identify what is causing your stress. A simple way to stay on top of this is by listing out all the current things which is causing you stress.

Once you’ve listed each stress, it’s time to look at some stress relief management tools.

The breakdown method

No, don’t personally breakdown.

Instead, this stress relief method strongly relies on breaking down the list you have created. Let’s say one of your listed items is stress because of a big work project, with a tight deadline. The pressure is starting to build up because of factors which are preventing you to progress, resulting in your productivity and focus to collapse.

How does the breakdown method tackle this?

This stress relief technique makes people restructure their thinking towards the problem at hand by logically approaching it. Often when stressed, rationality goes out the window and people are unable to see the issue how it truly is.

Here’s an example on how to use the breakdown method while using the scenario mentioned above:

Your current mindset is overwhelmed by the deadline, waiting on a co-worker to respond to an important email and concern that this may impact your lined up promotion. This combination of factors is creating negative thoughts and high levels of stress.

But here’s how you can reframe this – remember this involves writing it down – into a better mindset:

“My deadline is getting close but I have done everything I can to work towards the project and I still am. Although I’m waiting on a co-worker to respond to an important email, I’ve done my part and it’s up to them to respond. I’m stressed that this could affect my promotion, but I have always delivered on time and it’s unrealistic to assume such a negative outcome. It’s better for me to focus my energy on completing as much work as possible, because the rest is out of my control.”

The main idea of this stress relief method is to bring rationality into the equation, as this will help bring a more positive outlook.

Each stress is separate

It’s just one thing after the other.

That’s a feeling which stress often evokes and you might feel like nothing is working out for you. But it’s very important to treat each stress factor as separate.

When multiple stressful factors have accumulated overtime, it’s easier to become overwhelmed and be consumed by it – but is it realistic to link one stress to something completely unrelated?

Remind yourself that not everything is related.

Healthy lifestyle habits for stress relief

 
Exercise and physical activity are a phenomenal method in relieving stress.
 
In fact, a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that physical activity is associated with stress resilience. Weight resistance and cardiovascular exercise requires focus, so it’s likely to take things off your mind for the hour you are doing it. Not to mention the release of endorphins which reduces stress and improves sense of self-being.
 
Sleep

 

It’s not an exaggeration when people say you need at least eight hours of sleep.

Without sleep, our brains can’t recharge and this will reflect in your energy output the next day. The American Psychological Association mentions that 21 percent of adults feel more stress when they don’t get enough sleep.

And this exacerbates for those which are already more stressed in general. Making sure you get at least eight hours of quality sleep, as this will play a strong factor in stress relief management.

Nutrition

Eating a piece of chocolate to relax during stressful moments isn’t bad.

But making it a habit is definitely a problem. For people with chronic stress, it’s common to find something which helps the reduce stress, however this eventually becomes a crutch for which they rely on.

It’s important to recognise this pattern in its early phase and put a stop before it becomes a crutch. On the other side of the coin, people which are stressed can begin to slip up on their nutritional behaviours and start to make more poor food choices.

This is because of the immediate endorphin release the body experiences after eating junk food. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favourite takeout meal on a stressful day, but doing this regularly has many negatives such as lethargy, fogged thinking, bloated stomach and less motivation.

Ensuring a healthy diet will greatly help in increasing stress resilience and feeling good in general.

Attuning the mind & body for stress relief

 
It’s not for everyone at the start, but mindfulness strategies for stress relief are an effective management method.
 
Yoga
 
Have you ever tried yoga for stress relief? Of course, it’s not a magic solution but it’s been proven to calm the mind and relax the body. Because yoga involves deep breathing – a common strategy used for stress relief – it can aid in slowing do your heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
 
Yoga also requires the person to be present in the moment. This is a powerful way to switch off from all stressful thoughts and you’re less likely to think about work when finished.
 
If yoga is not for you, then there are other options you can explore such as tai chi and meditation.
 
Positive self-talk
 
Some stress relief management tools take time to adopt and positive self-talk is one of them. It can feel unnatural to repeat positive comments in your head, but the aim is to drown out the negativity.
 
Regardless of your situation, negative and stressful thoughts aren’t going to help solve the situation. If anything, they slow you down. Whereas reinforced positivity is intended to remind yourself that even if it takes time, the problem can be handled.

 

Social support

There’s nothing wrong with leaning on friends and family for support amidst stressful times.

Often, your support network may have useful suggestions which could solve the cause of stress. And regardless, sharing problems is known to have a cathartic effect which can aid in stress relief.

You can also consider support groups or personal therapy if your stress levels are consistently high and unmanageable.

Overall, it’s important to try all methods of stress relief management because some techniques will apply to individuals better than others.

 
 
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Amy Menzies

Amy Menzies

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