There is no one in the world who is completely stress-free. Life throws one challenge after another at us, and while a little stress is a good thing and can motivate us toward positive action, excessive stress is more likely to do us harm. For those who live with chronic stress, the toll on the body can be as great a toll on the mind. Over time, stress can wear the body down and, if not managed, even lead to serious illness.
It is important for each of us to acknowledge the impact of stress in our lives, then to take the necessary steps to manage that stress. Learning to deal with stress is the most fundamental requirement if we are to lead happy, healthy lives. These tips can help you get a handle on your stress before it gets to be too overwhelming.
Ask for help when you need it.
There are many stress-inducing factors in life that can’t just be avoided or switched off when they become too overwhelming – caring for a child or an elderly parent, paying the bills, and other similar situations that are outside our ability to control. When we are faced with this type of long-term ongoing demands that can’t be switched off, it is important to remember to ask for help from those around us. Sometimes being relieved from even just a small, simple part of the overall obligation is a huge stress-reliever. Don’t be afraid to reach friends, family members, or aid-giving institutions to get help when you need it. None of us is a superhero. We all need help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask.
When you’re stressed and rushed for time, the temptation is to skip meals or resort to quick, easy, junk-laden foods that only serve to drag the body down in the long run. Don’t be seduced by the convenience or the temporary comfort to be found in this sort of shortcut. As much as possible, eat healthy meals at regular intervals, and your body will thank you. Always remember that shortcutting on your diet is shortchanging your body. In the long run, it’s just not worth the trade-off.
Use relaxation techniques to quiet the mind.
Find a quiet place, preferably a cool, dark room, and sit or lie quietly. Monitor your breathing and seek to regulate it. Count to seven as you inhale, hold your breath for a count of three, then count to eight as you exhale. Repeat this process for ten to fifteen minutes. Even if your mind continues thinking about your problems as you breathe, you will gradually find that the thoughts will move at a less frantic pace and become more orderly, falling into rhythm with your breath and your counting. You might even doze off as you count. If you do, that’s a good thing! The rest will help both mind and body to recuperate from stress.
Try to keep a disciplined regimen of sleep and exercise
One of the worst parts of a stressful lifestyle is the way it disrupts the routines of eating, sleeping, and exercising – all the things the body needs to stay healthy. If you can be disciplined enough to go to bed at a regular hour, rise at a regular hour, and exercise at regular intervals, you will find that the order these disciplines bring to your life will help keep you anchored through the chaos going on around you. It might not be enough to make the chaos go away, but it will help relieve some of the stress that chaos causes inside you.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
Though alcohol and nicotine can temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety, in the long run, they increase levels of stress. Similarly, a stimulant like caffeine can keep you going in the short term, but its long term effect is to raise stress levels. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine should be avoided in times of stress, as should refined sugars, which lead to a temporary energy spike, followed by a crash.
Get the stress out of your system.
Everyone has their own way of getting stress out. Some people exercise. Some people talk to friends about their troubles. Some people prefer to be alone with a book or a movie. Some people write their feelings in a stress journal.
Whatever works for you, do it. Take the time you need to open the release valve and let the stress flow out. If you keep it inside, it will only continue to build up, doing more damage to your mind and body as time goes by.
None of us can ever completely escape stress. It is part of life, and we all must live with some degree of stress. But we don’t have to let it get the best of us. We can all learn to manage our stress and move forward to the health and happiness we want.
Don’t let stress get the best of you, robbing you of good health. By following the tips above, you can manage all the stress life throws your way, maintaining a healthy, strong body and mind as you face each new day.