8 Stress Management Techniques for All Year Round
Let’s be real, adulting is hard. One minute you feel like you are on top of the world and the next you feel like you can hardly catch a break from the stress of it all. Work, school, relationships, taking care of yourself; it is all taxing over time. And oftentimes the stress management techniques suggested can seem like too much work on top of it all to even be worth a try.
- Stress affects our abilities to function mentally and physically, from emotional duress to insomnia and eight gain.
- Instead of seeing it as a huge task, making little changes to your daily life can greatly reduce your stress and help you live healthier.
Stress can be a friend and a foe. Stress is our friend when dealt with in moderate, short bursts. In fact, Daniela Kaufer, a research professor in biology at UC Berkeley, states stress can even be beneficial for us. Kaufer’s research has shown moderate, short-lived stress can improve alertness, performance, and memory.
But stress isn’t always our friend and quickly turns into our foe when it is prolonged, becoming chronic and inescapable. Chronic stress negatively impacts our entire body. No seriously, our entire body including our musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. You name it and stress impacts it. Take a look at some of the effects of chronic stress.
- Tension headaches and migraines caused by muscle tension due to stress
- Increased heart-rate and blood pressure which increases risk of heart disease, heart, attack, and stroke
- Fatigue and sleep disorders
- Weakened immune system and increased risk of immune disorders
- Poor gut health spiraling into bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and more
- Anxiety and depression
- Low libido
And those are only some of the main side effects of chronic stress in a nutshell. Managing stress and reducing it helps you sleep better, improves immunity, strengthens the heart, boosts mental health and more.
Avoiding chronic stress and the negative side effects through stress management techniques promotes a healthier, happier you. But what is stress management and how can you make it a part of your daily life? We are glad you asked and we are happy to lend a helping hand in your stress management technique journey.
What is Stress Management?
Stress management uses a broad range of techniques and coping strategies to handle and control stress levels. Stress management techniques are preventative and work to prevent stress build up, such as pinpointing stressors and working to prevent them. Stress management techniques are also active, working to reduce stress levels during a stressful situation.
Stress Management Techniques
1. Eat a colorful, balanced diet
Eating a colorful, balanced diet gives your body the fuel necessary to tackle each day fervently. Without proper nutrients, the body is less apt to handle stress efficiently and the negative effects of stress like headaches and mood swings can be compounded. A healthy diet is also important for strengthening the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Comfort foods boost serotonin while others decrease the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Complex carbs like pastas and old-fashioned oatmeal increase serotonin, oranges and black tea can help combat stress hormones, and eating raw veggies can help relieve tension in the jaw from stress.
Exercise works wonders for the body and stress management. It reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and releases the body’s “feel good” endorphins.
Incorporating more walking into your daily routine, practicing yoga, cycling, swimming, kickboxing, and high-intensity interval training are all great exercises to try!
Meditation is a go to for managing stress and clearing the mind. With deep breathing, a comfortable position, a quiet space, and focused attention, the body is able to relax and decrease levels of cortisol, thus reducing stress.
Check out Rachel Tudor and her meditation practices.
4. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is a stress management technique that has been around for decades and studied time and time again. The research supports the effectiveness of guided imagery in relaxation and reducing stress. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and immerse your imagination in a peaceful place. Attune your senses to where you are and how you feel.
5. Deep Breathing
Breathing deeply slows down the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and sends a message to the brain to relax. Deep breathing also relieves tension in the body caused by stress.
There are many deep breathing techniques available and a popular one is the 4-7-8 method. Here’s a step by step guide to 4-7-8 from the University of Michigan Health
- To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise.
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
- Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
- Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm.
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Journaling has been scientifically proven to counteract the negative effects of stress, including a depleted immune system. Journaling everyday enables you to pour your thoughts and feelings onto paper and express gratitude. Pursuing journaling gives clarity and probes deep self-reflection.
7. Find a Therapist
Seeking professional help from a licensed therapist tackles stress head first. Therapy is a ginormous self-discovery project. Working with a therapist helps uncover the roots of your stress along with why you react the way you do. Understanding triggers, how, and why you react help transform behaviors and create healthy coping habits.
8. Detox Stressors
Evaluate your daily routine and to-do lists. What causes added stress that you can cut out of your daily life? Is it social media? Watching the news? Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine?
Making small adjustments by cutting these unnecessary stressors can make a huge impact on your overall daily wellbeing.
Stress management techniques work to reduce and combat the negative effects of stress like a weakened immune system, fatigue, muscle tension, and headaches. Incorporating one or more of these stress management techniques takes little steps towards a happier and healthier you. You got this.
Written by Lauren Conklin