Life can be hard, and it’s natural for everyone to feel stressed at some stage in their lives. Whether it results from a specific event or feelings of overall burnout, it’s important to know how to properly manage your stress. Indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms can only exacerbate the problem. Even if you think it’s helping in the moment, engaging in activities such as impulse shopping or binge-eating is not going to resolve your issues, but instead could cause additional stress in the long term.
In this article, we explore five ways to positively manage your stress and relieve some of the weight on your shoulders rather than adding to it.
Spend Some Time Outdoors
Many people resort to taking a walk outside when they feel stressed, and there’s a good reason why. The exercise combined with the fresh air can do wonders for your mind, helping to engage your senses and clear your head. Spending some time outdoors can even lower your levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, resulting in immediate relief.
Walking in itself can also help ease feelings of depression and anxiety, allowing you to think logically about any issues you’re facing, rather than spiraling out of control.
Take Up a Hobby
Instead of engaging in unhelpful habits to distract yourself, consider taking up a healthier hobby. Doing something constructive can not only provide a distraction, but it can also come with a sense of accomplishment as you learn and progress. Think about things you’ve wanted to do but perhaps have not been able to fully commit to – now is the perfect time to give them a shot.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something with a bit less commitment, even something as simple as breaking out an old jigsaw puzzle can help relieve stress. It provides a task that gets our minds moving without being too intense, encouraging us to problem-solve.
Try Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness isn’t a synonym for meditation, despite the common assumption. Although the practice does use meditation in some of its methods, it’s more about being aware of our bodies and surroundings in the moment.
Practicing mindfulness can help to create a judgement-free zone, allowing you to explore any stressors in a methodical way without becoming overwhelmed. It’s most commonly done through breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery, making it easy to try at home. There are plenty of resources available online, or you can even download an app on your phone to guide you through the process.
Reach Out for Support
There’s no shame in asking for help if you feel like you’re struggling. It’s only natural for us to feel higher levels of stress during certain periods of our lives, so make sure to reach out to someone to talk things through. Whether it’s a friend, family member or therapist, sharing your worries out loud can help to offer some perspective.
Therapists in particular will be well-versed in assisting with stress management, offering strategies and personally tailored advice to help get you back on track. If one-to-one sessions seem daunting to you, try attending some support groups or group therapy sessions. These can remove the focus from you which can be a relief for anyone with anxiety, and instead allow you to focus on learning how to manage your stress.
It’s important to take time to focus on yourself, even if it may seem like a low priority during stressful times. Taking care of yourself can better equip you to deal with your problems, helping to boost your mood and physical wellbeing too. Something as simple as eating a healthy, balanced diet can go a long way towards mitigating stress. Eating the right foods can give you more energy and help you to think more clearly, particularly if you’ve been neglecting your health and eating junk food for a while. This boost of vitamins is exactly what your body needs during stressful times, so make sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Stress management looks different for everyone, it’s about finding what works best for you. If you don’t know where to begin, a great starting point is to try simply getting some exercise outdoors, as the physical and mental benefits are well established. Even a quick walk around your area can help, so don’t be intimidated. Remember, it’s important to make time for yourself – even during stressful periods.
About the Author
Ruth Hardy is a life coach and promoter of positive living. Ruth aims to help others balance their busy lives and find healthy ways to manage stress. She also enjoys spending time outside in nature, and growing her own food in her kitchen garden.