Quick Stress Relief On The Go
In traffic. Play music or listen to an audiobook. Take a different route to see something new. Do neck-rolls at stoplights. Sing in the car to stay awake and happy.
Public transportation. Take a break from reading, cell conversations, and music to tune into the sights and sounds around you. Try noticing something new, even if youre on the same old bus ride.
Running errands. Wear a special perfume or lotion so you can enjoy it while you rush from place to place. Carry a stress ball in your pocket. Take a mental snapshot or postcard at each destination.
Waiting in lines. Instead of worrying about time slipping away, focus on your breathing. People watch. Chat with the person ahead of you. Chew a stick of minty gum.
Recognising Your Stress Triggers
If you’re not sure what’s causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.
Things you might want to write down include:
- the date, time and place of a stressful episode
- what you were doing
- a stress rating
You can use the diary to:
- work out what triggers your stress
- work out how you operate under pressure
- develop better coping mechanisms
Doctors sometimes recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose stress.
Don’t Just Seek Support Give It
If you lead a highly stressful life, the solution may be to add one more task to your daily to-do list. Give back.
Research consistently shows that helping other people and giving social support is a powerful way to manage the stress in your life and boost your resilience. Volunteer work, mentoring, mowing your elderly neighbors lawn, listening to a friend who is struggling all these can enhance your own ability to manage stress and thrive.
Time spent helping others, sharing our knowledge and providing social and emotional support gives meaning and purpose to our lives, said Adam Grant, a Wharton management professor and co-author of the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy with Sheryl Sandberg. Getting out of yourself and helping others may be even more powerful than receiving social support.
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Make Wellness A Part Of The Workplace
Since stress can create physical illness, doing what you can to keep your employees healthy can combat stress. There are several ways employers can encourage wellness:
- Gym memberships. You can give gym memberships to employees.
- Wearable technology. Give devices like the FitBit or JawBone Up, which measure steps, heart rate, and activity. Have competitions in which employees compete to be the most active to win prizes.
- Provide healthy snacks. Make healthy snacks available in the breakroom instead of junk food and sugary soda.
- Free checkups. Partner with a local clinic to offer free tests for employees, such as blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure.
- Encourage breaks. Make sure your employees take their breaks and take the time off coming to them.
Healthy and rested employees are less stressed and do better work. Itâs that simple.
How Does Your Body React To Work Stress
Imagine for a moment that your boss has emailed you about an unfinished assignment . Your body and mind instantly respond, activating a physical reaction called the fight-or-flight response. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles tense. At the same time you might say to yourself, Im going to get fired if I dont finish this. Then to manage your anxiety and negative self-talk, you work late into the night to complete the task.
Over the course of our evolutionary history, humans developed this coordinated fear response to protect against dangers in our environment. For example, a faster heart rate and tense muscles would help us escape from predators. In the modern era, fear continues to serve an important function. After all, the fight-or-flight response can provide the necessary energy to pull an all-nighter and keep your job.
But what happens if you encounter stressful experiences at work every day? Over time, chronic work stress can lead to a psychological syndrome known as burnout. Warning signs of burnout are overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism, and a sense of inefficacy. Certain work-related stressors are closely linked with burnout. Examples are having too much work or too little independence, inadequate pay, lack of community between coworkers, unfairness or disrespect, and a mismatch between workplace and personal values.
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Stress And Your Appetite
Stress can have a huge impact on your eating habits. During acute stress , the stress response can shut down appetite. The fight-or-flight response is designed to suppress hunger you wont be effective in battle or run that fast if you are thinking about food. But chronic stress has the opposite effect. Repeated doses of cortisol in your body due to high stress can lead to an increase in appetite.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, gender can play a role in how you eat during times of stress. Some research suggests women are more likely overeat due to stress while men turn to alcohol or smoking.
And the reality is that food really can make you feel better during times of stress. So-called comfort food like chocolate cake and ice cream literally blunt the bodys response to chronic stress. The problem with continuing to self-medicate chronic stress with comfort foods is that it will lead to weight gain and poor health.
Just as you need to reframe your view of stress and exercise and meditate to give your body a break from stress, you can also adopt strategies to use food to help you better cope with stress.
How Mindfulness Reduces Stress
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Reach Out And Touch Someone
The simple act of touching another person or being touched can ease your stress. James A. Coan, an assistant professor of psychology and a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, recruited 16 women who felt they had strong support in their relationships. To simulate stress, he subjected each woman to a mild electric shock under three conditions, all while monitoring her brain. The shocks were administered in no particular order while the woman was 1) alone, 2) holding a strangers hand, and 3) holding her husbands hand.
Notably, both instances of hand-holding reduced the neural activity in areas of the womans brain associated with stress. But when the woman was holding her husbands hand, the effect was even greater, and it was particularly pronounced in women who had the highest marital-happiness scores. Holding a husbands hand during the electric shock resulted in a calming of the brain regions associated with pain similar to the effect brought about by use of a pain-relieving drug.
Coan says the study simulates how a supportive marriage and partnership gives the brain the opportunity to outsource some of its most difficult neural work. When someone holds your hand in a study or just shows that they are there for you by giving you a back rub, when youre in their presence, that becomes a cue that you dont have to regulate your negative emotion,
Can Stress Be Positive
Research has shown that stress can sometimes be positive. It can make you more alert and help you perform better in certain situations.2 However, stress has only been found to be beneficial if it is short-lived.
Excessive or prolonged stress can contribute to illness such as heart disease3 and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.4
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Be More Realistic About Your Capabilities
It is helpful to remember that most people underestimate how long it will take to do something, and overestimate how much they can do. This means that they end up taking on too much, and then failing to deliver.
Develop the simple habit of doubling your time estimates for any task.
You are then far more likely to under-promise and over-deliver. This will make everyoneincluding youmuch happier than the other way round .
How To Alter The Situation From Stress
If you cant restrict stress of a specific situation, try to alter it. Spell out what you can do to change things so the problem doesnt present itself in the future.
Make your feelings known instead of covering them up If something or someone is disturbing you, transmit your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you dont voice your feelings, bitterness can build and the situation will probably remain the same.
Be Confident Dont take a second-string in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to foresee and protect them. If a client in work gives you an impractical deadline be honest and strong with them and say you will need more time in order to sufficiently complete the work.
Improve your time management skills Poor time management can cause a lot of needless stress. When youre running behind on tasks its tough to remain restful and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you dont wear out yourself, you can alter the amount of stress youre under.
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Focus On Something Less Anxiety
At times, it may be most helpful to simply redirect yourself to focus on something other than your anxiety. You may want to reach out to others, do some work around your home, or engage in an enjoyable activity or hobby. Here are a few ideas of things you can do to thwart off anxiety:
- Do some chores or organizing around the house.
- Engage in a creative activity, such as drawing, painting, or writing.
- Go for a walk or engage in some other form of physical exercise.
- Listen to music.
Avoid Irregular Work Schedules As Much As Possible
Salaried workers donât have to deal with varying work schedules, but hourly employees do. And itâs a huge stressor. Almost 30% of workers with irregular schedules report having serious work and family conflicts over the issue.
Random shift changes, on-call work schedules can all lead to stress, because workers are constantly in limbo when it comes to balance between work and life. They never know when theyâll need to work with much advance, and itâs difficult for them to make personal plans or even decompress when they could be called to work at any moment.
Try to create schedules that your employees can âbankâ on. Make sudden changes as rare as possible. Make it possible for your employees to rely on a steady schedule enough that they can arrange a solid personal life around their work schedule. This will help them return to work refreshed.
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The Importance Of Managing Stress
If youre living with high levels of stress, youre putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. It may seem like theres nothing you can do about stress. The bills wont stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.
Effective stress management helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and funand the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. Thats why its important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following stress management tips can help you do that.
What Is The Fastest Way To Relieve Stress
There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you cant just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.
One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is to engage one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touchor through movement. Since everyone is different, youll need to do some experimenting to discover which technique works best for youbut the payoff is huge. You can stay calm, productive, and focused when you know how to quickly relieve stress.
Social interaction is your bodys most evolved and surefire strategy for regulating the nervous system. Talking face-to-face with a relaxed and caring listener can help you quickly calm down and release tension. Although you cant always have a pal to lean on in the middle of a stressful situation, maintaining a network of close relationships is vital for your mental health. Between sensory-based stress relief and good listeners, youll have your bases covered.
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Build Good Coping Skills
How well or how poorly we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us. How we deal with stressful situations makes all the difference.
Here are some steps you can take to cope with a stressful situation.
1. Understand the Situation
- Take some time to think about the situation you’re facing. Try to describe your situation in a sentence or two. What’s stressful about this situation for you right now? It can help to write down your thoughts. For example: My family just moved, so I switched to a new school in the middle of the year. The stressful parts are not knowing anyone, missing my old friends, and dealing with all new schoolwork.
- Notice and name the feelings you have about the situation. Accept your feelings it’s understandable to feel the way you feel, given your situation. It can help to write down your feelings, too. For example: I feel lonely and sad because of missing old friends and my old school. I’m mad that we had to move, especially now. I’m worried about keeping up in math and social studies. I feel left out because I’m the new kid. I guess anyone would feel this way if they were in my situation.
- Learn more. Learn all you can about the situation you’re dealing with. This might include reading about it, talking to others, or finding out what others in your situation have done and what to expect. Learning helps you feel more confident and prepared plus it reminds you that you’re not the only one who has gone through this.
3. Take Action
Know The Difference Between Good Stress And Bad Stress
Not all stress is bad, and not all stress can be avoided.
Good stress motivates you. Deadlines, tests, or being asked to speak in front of other people â these are all situations that create stress, but they are also what motivates us. Good stress tends to be short-term and can even enhance or improve brain function. When the pressure is on, the brain sharpens up.
Bad stress, however, is chronic. It harms your health, slows you down, and can even start to inhibit thinking.
Essentially, stress uses your fight-or-flight response. Good stress gives you time to recover from that response, but bad stress locks you into it and wears you down. Itâs important to know the difference between good and bad stress so you know which is the problem and which is actually helping you.
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Effects Of Too Much Stress
“If constantly under stress, most of us will eventually start to function less well,” says Malaika Stoll, M.D., chief medical officer of SutterSelect. Multiple studies link chronic stress to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, weight gain, memory loss and even premature death, so “it’s important to recognize the warning signals,” she says.
Talk to your doctor about ways to manage stress if youre experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Prolonged periods of poor sleep
- Regular, severe headaches
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feelings of isolation, withdrawal or worthlessness
- Constant anger and irritability
- Loss of interest in activities
- Constant worrying or obsessive thinking
- Excessive alcohol or drug use
- Inability to concentrate