Tag Archives: cope with stress

9 Simple Ways to Handle Stress

relaxOur lives are filled with stress. It’s impossible to avoid. You’re already late for an appointment and get slowed down by road construction. Your boss dumped a proposal on you that’s due tomorrow. Your schedule is hectic, and you need to be in two places at once.

Research shows that some stress can be good for you. However, if you’re dealing with persistent – long-term stress, such as a sick parent or a demanding boss, it can actually lead to a variety of health issues.

Here are 9 simple and practical ways to copy with stress in your daily life:

Enjoy some fresh air
Make it a point to get outside every day. Research shows that vitamin D from sunlight can elevate your mood by releasing feel-good serotonin. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells around you will take your mind off your worries or frustrations. Even feeling the wind on your face can lift your spirits.

Take a walk
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to turn to bad habits to make you feel better, such as a candy, cigarettes or caffeine. Next time you’re feeling anxious, go for a quick stroll. Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise can provide a mental boost. Better yet, climb a few flights of stairs. Climbing stairs requires you to pay more attention to what you’re doing and helps vent frustrations.

Rely on rituals
You probably already have rituals that help you relax, and you may not even realize it. For example, you may read the newspaper as you eat breakfast, listen to music while you clean or take a bath before going to bed. Our bodies naturally crave routines, so focusing on regular rituals can help you relax physically and mentally. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you stick to your regular routines.

Put down the junk food
Do you handle stress by eating? In hectic times, you may choose comfort foods, such as refined carbs or sugary snacks. You will most likely experience a sugar crash, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. Extra calories can also quickly add up to extra pounds. The next time you’re feeling anxious, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh fruits, vegetables or a handful of nuts.

Get out of your head
Stress likes to mess with your mind. Do you ever get stuck in an ongoing loop of negative thoughts or playing back conversations in your head? A great way to get out of your own head is to engage in fun activities that put your focus on your hands or body. For instance, you can cook, knit or crochet, climb a rock wall or play a sport. When you do something creative or an engaging activity, you fall into a rhythmic pattern and your brain helps you relax and feel more grounded.

Visualize calm
Find a quiet area and create a happy place for a few minutes each day. Just sit still, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Clear you mind and concentrate on thinking about nothing stressful. It’s harder than you think! Find a comforting and calming image that works for you and helps you relax. Read more about relaxation techniques.

Focus on the present
It’s easy to get sucked into worrying over things that have already happened or imagining what could happen in the future. Let go of thoughts about the past and future, and focus on the present moment. Be aware of where you are and what’s happening right now. Think about how the air feels on your skin, the sound of your kids laughing or a friend telling you about their day. Being mindful of the present can help you let go of stressing about the past and future.

Express your gratitude
Take a few moments each day to express gratitude. It can be as simple as going over the good things that happened that day before you go to sleep. You can write your feelings in a journal. Or, you can let friends and family know you are grateful for them. Research has shown that showing more gratitude releases hormones that make you feel good and lowers stress levels.

Connect with your spiritual side
Spirituality can boost happiness in times of stress. Many religious groups and native tribes use prayer beads to guide their spiritual practice. Having something to hold while communicating with a higher spirit can provide comfort and routine. Prayer can also help you pass your worries over to God and give you peace.

Learning how to cope with stress on a daily basis can help you improve your overall health and well-being. Take the time each day to acknowledge stress and find ways – like the tips above – to help you let it go and live a more balanced life.

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Myths and facts about stress

Myths and facts about stressI drive from one kid’s sporting event to the next, talking on the phone (using Bluetooth, of course), and thinking about a looming deadline for work. The dog is sick. My son’s ball pants need to be washed for the game tomorrow. We have no food in the house.

I can’t help but wonder if the rest of America is in a constant state of stress. Stress seems to be a part of our lives. As much as we all deal with it, we may not completely understand the impact it has on us.

Here are some myths and the facts about stress:

Myth: All stress is bad
Stress is not necessarily bad. It is just a condition of our lives and can be healthy in moderate amounts. However, if stress is making it hard for you to function, then it is not healthy for you. Managing stress is the key to leading a more balanced and productive life.

Myth: No symptoms means no real stress
You may have no noticeable systems that you are stressed. On the other hand, many of us experience stress in a physical way, such as tension headaches, insomnia, weight gain or stomach problems. You may medicate these health issues, but you are not treating the underlying cause. You can also feel overwhelmed, mentally sluggish and physically run down from stress. So, while you may not be noticing symptoms, stress is still working on you physically and mentally.

Myth: Stress makes you perform better
You may think that stress is what is motivating you to meet deadlines and perform your best at tasks. The truth is that stimulation and engagement is what motivates us, not stress. Stress is the negative emotion mixed in with a positive drive to succeed.

Myth: Too much work causes stress
Stress is not tied to the number of hours you work. Work stress is more likely to be related to how you feel while you are working. If you are overwhelmed and worried about getting everything done, you will feel more stressed. If you don’t really enjoy your work, feel unappreciated or have conflicts with coworkers, you are more likely to be stressed. Stress caused by work has more to do with how you feel about your job than how many hours you work.

Myth: You choose to be stressed
Stress is a product of how your mind deals with situations, how you were taught to deal with stress and even your personality. I am a worrier. I will always worry – even about things that are out of my control. While I do create some of my own stress, it’s not necessarily something I can control. I can work on changing my beliefs and perceptions so that I can better deal with stressful situations.

Myth: You can’t avoid stress
Feeling stressed is not inevitable. While stressful situations will happen, you do have the power to control how you react to them. As we mentioned above, you can change the way you handle stress so that it doesn’t have as much impact on you emotionally and physically.

Myth: Stress is the same for everyone
We are all unique individuals and so is our response to stress. We do not experience stress in the same way or even get stressed by the same things. For example, some people get stressed by family gatherings, paying the bills or speaking in public, while others do not.

Myth: Being stressed is a weakness
Your response to stress does not reflect your strength or weakness. You may also recognize that you are stressed and that it is affecting your health more readily than someone else. This does not make you weak or a whiner. It just means you may be more in tune with your body and more willing to recognize the effects of stress.

Myth: Stress gives you ulcers
The majority of ulcers are not caused by stress. Stomach ulcers are caused by a common stomach bacteria. However, stress can increase your levels of stomach acid, which can contribute to digestive issues.

Myth: Deep breathing alleviates stress
Stress is the result of how we view things in our lives and how we process stressful situations. Breathing and relaxing do not really get rid of stress. You need to reframe your thoughts and reactions to stress. Deep breathing techniques and relaxation can help you get in a better state of mind so you can be more prepared for stress, but they don’t really remove stress once you’re in the situation.

Myth: A few drinks reduce stress
After a stressful day, it may seem like a good idea to have a few mixed drinks or glasses of wine. Alcohol actually stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Alcohol and stress have also been found to create a vicious cycle. You drink to relieve stress and stress dampens the effects of alcohol, so you drink more.

Myth: Stress and anxiety are the same
An anxiety disorder is a diagnosable mental disorder. Anxiety is chronic and can get worse over time. Stress causes worry but you can learn to overcome it with time. Stress may lessen with time while an anxiety disorder won’t go away on its own.

Now you know the myths and facts about stress. It’s within your power to change your mindset and cope with stress more effectively!

6 ways to beat stress for better health

Stress juggling too many responsibilitiesWe all deal with stress. It can be a juggling act to balance all of our responsibilities. Your boss just dumped a bunch of work on your desk on Friday afternoon. The car battery died. One of the kids is sick. The property taxes are coming due.

Sometimes everything piles up at once, and you feel overloaded. You may not be able to keep all the balls in the air, and it seems like too much to handle. You can’t avoid stress. It’s just part of life. However, you can control how you deal with it.

Stress can cause you to gain weight and can even shorten your lifespan. By learning to manage stress, you can live a much happier, healthier and more productive life.

Here are 6 ways you can make changes in your life now to help you beat stress for better health:

1. Balance your lifestyle
How you live your life affects your stress level. If one aspect of your life is out of balance, it can lead to stress and dissatisfaction – not only in that area of your life but also in other areas. For instance, if your work schedule has become extremely hectic, it will impact your personal life. Your spouse may wish you could spend more time together. You may miss your kids’ sports or school activities due to work.

Here are some areas to work on to help you find more balance and reduce stress:

Look at your schedule. It’s important to create a balance between your personal needs, work, and your family and friends. Our relationships with others are an integral part of our happiness. Start by looking at your commitments. Maybe you need to adjust how and where you spend your time. Make more time for you. Or plan more activities with your family or friends. There may be things you don’t need to do at all. Sometimes just saying no when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be the greatest stress reliever.

Get enough sleep. Your body uses sleep to rest and re-cooperate from the stresses of the day. Your body and mind need sleep for many other healthy reasons, too.

Eat healthier. By eating healthier you have more energy, may lose weight or maintain your weight, and will feel better about yourself. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and protein can also help boost your immunity. Staying healthy is one of the best defenses against stress.

Make the time to exercise. If you can work exercise into your daily routine and make it habit, you will feel healthier and reduce stress. Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can help lower your stress level.

Find a sense of purpose. You may feel stressed if you aren’t doing anything that’s meaningful to you or that you truly enjoy. You may find a sense of purpose through your family, friends, a hobby you love, work or by volunteering. Your purpose should make you happy to get out of bed in the morning and fulfilled at the end of the day.

These are a few of the areas in your life that can get out of balance. It is also important to make sure you are financially and spiritually balanced. You may find it helps to set goals and improve your habits in order achieve more.

2. Get organized
Being surrounded by clutter can also contribute to stress. If you feel you are constantly searching for things or simply feel overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in your life, then take the initiative to clean up the clutter and reduce your stress.

You can also improve your time management skills. I know I am often guilty of procrastination. I put things off or do unimportant tasks to avoid what I should be doing. The next thing I know, I haven’t gotten anything worthwhile done. By managing your time more effectively, you can prioritize what is urgent and what can wait. You can also get more things done in a shorter amount of time. That leaves more time to do the fun things!

3. Change your mindset
It’s easy to get caught up in negative thinking. Situations that are out of your control or not even your fault suddenly start to cause you unnecessary stress. Negative thoughts can trigger your body’s stress response. Changing your mindset to more positive thinking can help you cope with stress more easily.

4. Learn to relax
When you feel stressed, take time to relax. It may mean simply closing your eyes, breathing deeply and thinking positive thoughts for a few minutes. You can envision yourself in a place that makes you happy and relaxed. Sit outside and soak up the sun for a few minutes. Go for a quick walk and let your mind wander. You can also use different types of relaxation techniques to help you reduce tension.

5. Disconnect
We live in a plugged-in world. While all of our high tech devices – TVs, cell phones, computers, tablets – can help us stay connected and make work and life easier, they keep us connected all the time. Turn off the computer and cell phone and take a break from technology every once in a while. Spend time with family and friends without the distractions. Go outside and do nothing. Enjoy just being.

6. Reach out
If you start to feel too overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family. Simply talking to someone and venting your frustrations can help you feel better. You can talk to people you know from church or a religious leader. You may reach a point when you want to talk to a counselor or therapist. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it!

You can beat stress and live a more balanced, healthy and fulfilling life. How do you cope with stress?