That work deadline on Friday.
Working out four days a week.
Planning out healthy meals for the week.
Trying to have a social life.
Life is damn stressful these days! Sometimes, the shear amount of shenanigans we have to do, even daily, is enough to make your head spin. As we all know, stress sucks. When stress is prevalent, and for too long, there are plenty of negative health consequences that you will notice. Some of these effects include elevated blood pressure and heart rate, increased muscle tension, lack of sleep, and an increase of bad habits to combat that stress.
Stress releases tons of hormones into your body that help with all of this negativity. The fight or flight hormones come out, causing that increase in muscle tension and blood pressure, and the stress hormones come out, causing that lack of sleep and recovery, as well as increasing your appetite. Ok, So now that you’re terrified of stress, what the hell do we do about it?
Enter: stress management, the main soldier in the war against chronic stress.
Stress management is huuuuuuuuuge. Stress management are techniques that you can employ to help prevent stresses from forming or becoming bigger, and also to help squash that stress once it does show up. Stress management requires some trial and error, as finding the right option is very personal to you and how you work. However, I’m here to give you a whole bunch of ideas to start with.
1.Exercise. Physically exercising and moving your body can be very beneficial in releasing stress. Many people, including myself, find that exercising helps to relieve any anxiety you are feeling, along with giving you a physical outlet to get out that muscle tension. Exercise also releases anti stress hormones. These are called endorphins, and as the famous Elle Woods says, “Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t shoot their husbands.” She’s right. Endorphins are hormones that help to improve your mood, which is the main reason why exercise is such a beneficial stress reliever.
2. Self Discovery. Self discovery, including journaling and meditation, can help you to find the root cause of your stress. Journaling is a great way to release your true thoughts and emotions, without actually needing to talk to anybody. As well, the more you keep writing and releasing, the more likely you are to discover something you wouldn’t have otherwise. Whenever I just start writing, by the time I’m done, I’ve figured out a new piece of the puzzle without even realizing it. Meditation is another great tool for stress management. I’m sure a lot of you reading this has a vision of someone sitting there, cross legged with their hands on their knees saying “ommmmmmm,” but that’s not exclusively what meditation is. Meditation is being aware of your mindset, clearing out negative thoughts and focusing on your body. It takes plenty of practice, but being able to turn off those thoughts is such a helpful tool, especially in an era where we never really turn off.
1.To journal: grab a piece of paper and just start writing. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling and just keep writing. Let the words just flow. (If you’re the type of person who needs a prompt, google “journal prompts”. You’ll find plenty to help you get started!)
2.To meditate: find a quiet and comfortable place. You can be seated or laying down, but turn off all outside noise, shut your eyes, and relax. Focus on your breath, acknowledge any thoughts that pop up, but try to let them go too. Doing this daily can help to increase the time you can meditate.
3. Self Care. This is the most personalized approach that we have to stress management. Self care is so individualized and personal to you. Self care is really anything that makes you happy. My self care involves a face mask, a yummy snack, and a funny movie. I know of a friend’s self care that is being creative and using an outlet to express himself. There is no wrong way to perform self care, it’s really just making time for anything that brings you joy. This is our biggest preventative stress management technique, where the other two are more reactive to stresses already. Be sure to give yourself some time every week just for you, it can make a huge difference in your stress levels.
Just like stress itself, stress management is very personal to you. There can be a period of trial and error when trying to figure out which technique works best for you, but give them a shot. It’s better than staying a huge ball of stress all the time. Let me know which techniques you’ve tried, or have worked for you!