Stress, which is the way your body responds to events, is a natural part of life. There can be good and bad stress, such as planning a wedding or unexpectedly losing your job. Stress of any kind can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health and can cause fatigue, inability to concentrate, anxiety, restlessness, depression, sleep problems, irritability, and even stomach problems. In addition, stress can seriously affect your behavior by causing overeating or undereating, drug and alcohol usage, decrease in exercise, sudden angry outbursts, and social withdraw. Stress can have a major negative impact that can affect all areas of your life and relationships with others. Because of this, it is vital to develop techniques for managing stress and increasing relaxation to help minimize the negative impacts of stress. Here are five stress management techniques you can try today:
1. Increasing physical exercise. This one may seem fairly obvious, but increasing your physical exercise can help your body release pent up energy caused by stress in a healthy way. Even just a walk around the block can help clear your head and provide a small amount of stress relief.
2. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, tai chi, mindfulness, or yoga. By implementing relaxation techniques for when you are feeling stressed can not only have immediate benefits but long term ones as well. Stepping back and taking a little time for yourself can help reduce irritability and restlessness while promoting clarity and inner peace. Practicing these stress relief techniques long term can actually help you deal with stress in the future easier.
3. Go out with friends or family. Often, stress can make us want to close ourselves off and pull away from social activities. However, pulling away can cause even more stress and put a strain on your relationships. So, the next time you are feeling stressed, call a friend up to go to coffee or even just talk to your friends or family on the phone. Opening up to someone else about what you are going through can help provide stress relief and help you remember that you are not alone while you deal with this.
4. Dedicate time to your hobbies. Take a moment to think about the hobbies in life that truly interest you and that you are passionate about, even if you have not done them in a long time. These could even be something simple, such as reading a book or listening to music. Whatever your hobby, start scheduling yourself a little time per week to indulging in these hobbies. You will not only feel happier and more relaxed but develop greater life satisfaction.
5. Progressive muscle relaxation. When our bodies undergo stress, our muscles can become tight, especially in our back, neck, and shoulders. Not only can muscle tightness be caused by stress but it can be a contributor to it. Progressive muscle relaxation is a stress relief technique that involves tensing and relaxing certain groups of muscles in a methodical way to help reduce muscle tension. This technique will not only help your body feel immediately less tense, but can help to greater long term stress management.
The above strategies are about supporting you with coping each day but talking about your stress and unpacking possible underlying emotions attached to the stress can also be helpful. Everyone is unique and so too is what works for you. Again, stress management strategies aren’t about fixing the stress or stressor, it’s about coping. If stress is more than just a short term problem for you it maybe worth reaching out for support.