Feeling Stressed These Expert Strategies Will Help You Channel Inner Calm
You can blame all your stress on saber-toothed tigers. Triggers like your job, money, family, or just the general state of the world activate the hardwired fight-or-flight response leftover from caveman days. When we experience those primal physiological reactions over extended periods of time, they result in symptoms including chronic pain, headache, muscle tension, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, and anger among others.
Stressors are so pervasive in our day-to-day life that the majority of Americans say they experienced stress during a lot of the day and 44 percent say they feel worried a lot, according to a Gallup poll. And stress has become such a common mental health issue that therapists have developed specialties in helping people cope.
Think about stress management in three ways, says Patrick Raue, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington School of Medicine:
- The most powerful solution is to identify the problem and eliminate it, he says. Sure, a lot of the time, this one isnt possible, but sometimes we overlook this option and just assume were stuck with the situation as it is. Its worth examining.
- Guide our thoughts and how we perceive events. The goal is to slow the thinking process down and manage those thoughts, explains Dr. Raue.
- Slow the physiological processes down in our bodies to feel calmer, says Dr. Raue.
Quick Ways To Reduce Stress
Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isnt always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
1. BreatheSlow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If youre in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk When youre feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. Youll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun If its a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
12. Be Alone
Ways To Cope With Chronic Stress
“Its key to recognize stressful situations as they occur because it allows you to focus on managing how you react,” Dr. Stoll says. “We all need to know when to close our eyes and take a deep breath when we feel tension rising.”
Use these tips to prevent or reduce chronic stress.
1. Re-balance Work and Home
All work and no play? If youre spending too much time at the office, intentionally put more dates in your calendar to enjoy time for fun, either alone or with others.
2. Build in Regular Exercise
Moving your body on a regular basis balances the nervous system and increases blood circulation, helping to flush out stress hormones. Even a daily 20-minute walk makes a difference.
3. Eat Well and Limit Alcohol and Stimulants
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may temporarily relieve stress but have negative health impacts and can make stress worse in the long run. Well-nourished bodies cope better, so start with a good breakfast, add more organic fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink more water.
4. Connect with Supportive People
Talking face to face with another person releases hormones that reduce stress. Lean on those good listeners in your life.
5. Carve out Hobby Time
Do you enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music or some other creative pursuit? Engage in activities that bring you pleasure and joy research shows that reduces stress by almost half and lowers your heart rate, too.
6. Practice Meditation, Stress Reduction or Yoga
Also Check: How To Handle Mental Stress
Get Enough Quality Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep at night? You should. Sleep is an essential component in staying healthy and strong and it can help you better handle stressful situations.
Remember, just cause youre in bed for eight hours doesnt mean that youre getting quality sleep. Make sure that you get restful and restorative sleep each and every night by having a cool, dark, and quiet environment.
Appetite Changes And Weight Gain
Changes in appetite are common during times of stress.
When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself with no appetite at all or overeating without noticing.
One small 2006 study of 272 female college students found that 81 percent reported that they experienced changes in appetite when they were stressed out, with 62 percent stating they had an increase in appetite .
Changes in appetite may also cause fluctuations in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study involving 1,355 people in the United States found that stress was associated with weight gain in adults already living with extra weight .
A third study from 2017 found that individuals with higher cortisol and insulin levels and higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to gain weight in the future . However, the study was limited in the scope of research in that participants were predominantly white females.
While these studies show an association between stress and changes in appetite or weight, more studies are needed to understand other possible factors are involved and how stress impacts different people.
Read Also: Can Stress Make You Feel Sick
Tips For Giving The Best Answer
Show the employer how you manage stress. That way, the interviewer can build up a clear picture of how well you adapt to stressful situations. For example, describe a time when you were given a difficult task or multiple assignments and how you rose to the occasion.
Focus on success. When you respond, share examples of how you succeeded despite being in a stressful situation, or of how you problem-solved to resolve the issue that caused stress.
When its a stressful job. Some jobs are stressful by nature. If youre applying for a high-stress job, be sure to let the interviewer know that youre used to working under stress and that its part of your normal routine.
Take A Break From Your Phone
Constantly checking your phone for the latest notification can overwhelm you, according to Kristine Carlson, co-author of the book Dont Sweat the Small Stuff,” which she wrote with her late husband Richard Carlson.
We are so tied to our technology, she said. Email, text message, checking your Instagram all of that, its very addictive.
Instead, she advised, really unplug from your email or phone and take what Carlson refers to as a golden pause.
By snoozing your notifications, you create the mental space to focus on yourself and how youre feeling. While you focus on yourself, practice breathing slowly, closing your eyes and turning your thoughts toward something youre grateful for, Carlson suggested.
Research backs up this up: Focusing on gratitude has been shown to increase a persons level of happiness.
A Daily Ritual That Will Help You De
For many, stress is an accepted part of daily life, whether its triggered by a mile-long to-do list at work, a schedule packed full of family commitments or the stream of never-ending bills in your mailbox .
Research suggests that over the past decade there has been a sharp rise in mental-health related issues, like stress and anxiety. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 31 percent of respondents saw an increase in their stress levels in 2016 and 2017, with 20 percent reporting experiencing extreme stress.
Poppy Jamie, entrepreneur, TV personality and creator of the mindfulness app Happy, Not Perfect, is no stranger to the severe health effects of a high-stress lifestyle.
started for me at a young age, because my mother is a psychotherapist and my father is an entrepreneur who suffered from severe stress and anxiety, says Jamie. As she entered the workforce, Jamie began to struggle with stress-related health issues of her own. I was a TV host for seven years and I started my own business and I was trying to do so much, I was very much my fathers daughter feeling stressed and anxious, she says.
We are have these up and down emotional lives but werent given the tools to be able to deal with it.
Number : Sleep To Combat Stress
Are you getting enough Zzzzs? Restful sleep is an essential key to staying healthy and strong. When youre well-rested, you can approach stressful situations more calmly, yet sleep is so often neglected or underemphasized.
The key is making sure youre not only getting enough sleep, but that the quality of sleep youre getting is restful and restorative.
Read More: How to get a good nights sleep
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Number : Hit The Road
Taking annual vacations is really good for you. Ask your doctor: it appears that going on vacation may not be an icing-on-the-cake type of indulgenceit may actually be necessary for good health.
But multi-week, exotic getaways arent always an option with the many responsibilities that come with life. Whether you have the time and money to head out on a European tour, or can simply afford a long weekend thats close to home, yet away from the grind, planning a break is a great tool for reducing stress. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to.
Stress Relief: 10 Tips To Help You De
Here are some tried and true tips to get stress relief:
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Guided Imagery Or Visualization
Imagine yourself lying on a sandy beach with a soft breeze gently stirring the warm air. Use your senses to smell the saltwater and feel the sun as you transport yourself there. Thats guided imagery or visualization.
It uses the power of your mind to change your focus to a peaceful time or event.
If were in a stressful situation, you know, just shifting our mind and focusing on a time when we were really, really relaxed is an effective way to calm down, Brown says.
Set Up Your Dog To Succeed
With a new dog in our home, weve worked to make the transition successful for everyone including the resident pets. John built a small Dutch door to prevent Barli from going upstairs to our offices this gives the cats a puppy-free zone and helps with housetraining as well. Weve also worked to help Tiki and Barli bond, giving Tiki extra attention to make sure she doesnt feel left out. Weve added a new bed for Barli so Tiki still has full use of all of her favorite items, and weve added an ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser. The clinically-proven, veterinarian-recommended diffuser covers about 700 square feet, so the entire downstairs that Barli can access has coverage. The diffuser continuously provides soothing Dog Appeasing Pheromones to help both Tiki and Barli feel secure and comfortable around each other.
Also Check: How To Avoid Stress At Work
Tip : Bring Your Senses To The Rescue
To use your senses to quickly relieve stress, you first need to identify the sensory experiences that work best for you. This can require some experimentation. As you employ different senses, note how quickly your stress levels drop. And be as precise as possible. What is the specific kind of sound or type of movement that affects you the most? For example, if youre a music lover, listen to many different artists and types of music until you find the song that instantly lifts and relaxes you.
Explore a variety of sensory experiences so that no matter where you are, youll always have a tool to relieve stress.
The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. Let your imagination run free and come up with additional things to try. When you find the right sensory technique, youll know it!
Exercise In Advance Of Stressful Situations
Just as exercise helps humans better deal with stress, exercise helps soothe our dogs as well. Last week, we visited Johns relatives in a nursing home in South Texas before we reached the facility, we stopped in the small town of Shiner for a walk in the city park. We walked both Barli and Tiki, which helped them remain calm during the nursing home visit. Its a trick we use for just about every potentially stressful situation. Before every veterinary visit, we always give our dogs a long walk. Not only does it keep them calmer at the vets office, but it helps me as well! If your dogs trigger is thunder, stay abreast of the weather and plan an extra long walk BEFORE the storms roll in or try some indoor exercise, whether thats fetch on the stairs or an Easter egg hunt for treats throughout the house.
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Need Quick Ways To Relax And De
If youre feeling more stressed during these uncertain times, youre not alone. Yet there are still ways to finds moments of relaxation in your everyday life. You can start by practicing mini relaxation techniques. These quick techniques can be done throughout the day helping you to de-stress.
Here are a few techniques to try.
1. Tense and release
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that can be used to control stress and anxiety. To practice this technique, youll need to tense up muscles in a certain area of your body for 15 seconds and then relax. You can start by clenching your toes and then work your way up your body section by section until you reach your head. Practicing progressive muscle relaxation is also a good way to check in with yourself and pay attention to any pain you may not have noticed before. And if something is causing you pain, talk to your doctor about it right away.
2. Express gratitude
3. Explore your happy place
Even if were stuck at home, we can still take a trip using our imagination. So when youre feeling sick of being indoors, imagine a place that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and completely at peace. It could be a real-life memory or something you make up like your own private lakeside cabin.
4. Take a break
5. Do a 1-minute meditation
There are many health benefits to meditating. In fact, studies show that meditation can improve anxiety, depression, and pain, and may even help you sleep better.2,3
Quick Stress Relief At Work
Meetings. During stressful sessions, stay connected to your breath. Massage the tips of your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Sip coffee.
On the phone. Inhale something energizing, like lemon, ginger, peppermint. While talking, stand up or pace back and forth to burn off excess energy, or take calls outside when possible.
On the computer. Work standing up. Do knee-bends in 10-minute intervals. Suck on a peppermint. Sip tea.
Lunch breaks. Take a walk around the block or in the parking lot. Listen to soothing music while eating. Chat with a colleague.
Your workspace. Place family photos on your desk or mementos that remind you of your life outside the office.
Also Check: What Is The Best Stress Ball
Identify Your Dogs Stressful Situations
If youve been living with your dog for a while, you probably already know what situationsor types of situationscause stress. Our Irie was always afraid of thunder, gunshots, fireworks, and loud trucksbasically stresses that involved loud noises. When we adopted Barli last month, he vomited on the ride home from the shelter but we figured it was a case of nerves from meeting new people and a new dog and leaving the only home he could remember. The next week when a thunderstorm rolled in, we braced ourselvesbut Barli was unfazed. However, when we got back in the car a few days later for a trip to the park, Barli immediately began drooling and soon vomited. We realized that, for Barli, car rides equal scary situations. His fearfulness is completely different than that we saw in Irie throughout her life, but we know we have the tools to help de-stress him.