Sometimes it feels like we are in a constant state of stress – we're haunted by nightmares of student loans, keeping up with friends on social media, life decisions etc. Is it possible to come up with a set of life-cheats to keep stress from taking over every facet of our lives?
But there are techniques to manage stress that we've whittled down to seven tips that can help you reclaim calm.
It is important to note that not all stress is bad. In this post however, we refer to negative stress by the general term stress.
- Monday – Under Pressure: Every now and then, we all experience the blues that rue the day. Perfect for that Monday morning, you can de-stress with deep breathing exercises. Controlled and deep breaths as a relaxation tip is widely researched and considered a great way to control heart rate. It also shows marked reduction in the presence of cortisol and other stress hormones. Other benefits of deep breathing include slowing your heart rate and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
- Tuesday – Tap into the Power of Green Tea: Now you're probably wondering, how will green tea help me de-stress? Green tea is rich in antioxidants (which are great for your health). It also contains the chemical theanine which research has shown helps reduce the body's stress responses and elevate feelings of calm. Another effect from green tea is its blood pressure reducing ability, a very specific and well known stress-related issue. Impress your doctor at your next annual physical with this super tasty tip that you frankly can use everyday.
- Wednesday – Embrace your inner woodsman: You don't actually have to go into the woods for this one. Studies including this one from University of Washington's Urban Forestry/ Urban greening highlight the ability of greenery/ nature in de-stressing your mind. Take the opportunity to get some fresh air and take in the greenery of your surroundings. It's low-cost and effective at reduces time spent dwelling on negative aspect of your life at the root of your stress. Even adding a little greenery in your office or home can add this benefit.
- Thursday – Sweat out the stress: Exercise improves your overall health but did you know that it can also help you manage stress better? Regular aerobic exercise offers striking changes at the chemical level in your body that work to counteract stress and provide stimulation and calm. Researchers at University of Georgia found that the chemical galanin mediates aspects of the neural and behavioral stress is produced by exercise. This chemical, along with other stress busting hormones, help the body manage stressful situations better.
- Friday – Socialize: For teens and adults alike, stress can have negative impact on healthy behaviors like sleep, healthy eating or exercising. This is according to the American Psychological Association's (APA) annual Stress in America™ survey. Socializing is a great chill pill to help you de-stress, especially for those experiencing high stress levels. Spending time with your BFF(s) can be just what you need to deal with unpleasant situations causing you stress. Emotionally supportive friends or family can help you diffuse stressful situations and create a buffer that keeps you centered.
- Saturday – Journaling: Major life events like changing a job, impending deadlines, applying to that college are easy to pinpoint as stress inducing triggers. But it's not always as black and white as that. Keeping a stress journal can help you identify regular triggers of stress that aren't immediately apparent. Tracking your day to day will help you see patterns and common themes. Recognizing the true triggers of your stress will help you take more control.
- Sunday – Get your Rest and Relaxation: Take a breather, pace yourself and remember to get some good sleep. Unhealthy sleep not only wrecks your physical health but it also increases your stress levels. According to the APA, 43% of adults find sleep elusive and spend a great amount of the night awake. Another 50% of adults report feeling tired or sluggish after a night of little sleep. This creates a vicious cycle with stress and inadequate sleep feeding off each other. To de-stress, try unplugging your tech gadgets at a set time everyday. Aromatherapy (lavender is pretty good), relaxation techniques are like deep breathing are also helpful. In the worst of cases, consider seeing a sleep specialist. They can offer professional insight and help you sort through stress and help you develop techniques to address unhealthy sleep patterns.
We recognize that you can not completely eliminate stress in your life, equipping yourself with techniques to help you manage stress abound. Research shows that the coping mechanisms we adopt when we are in high school seep into our adulthood. Inappropriate coping techniques – even unhealthy diets – will cause more harm so it's paramount to learn healthy coping habits to help you destress.
What coping tips do you use to help you decompress and recharge when you're stressed out? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #realstories.
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- University of Washington | Green cities: Good Health
- American Psychological Association | Stress in America™ Survey 2014
- University of Georgia | Exercise reduces stress: UGA scientists discover why