Recently, more of us than ever have been exposed to stress and stressful situations exacerbated by the global pandemic.
Whilst it may seem like a juxtaposition, there are ways to positively handle stress in order to reduce the effect it has on your health and mental wellbeing.
We’ve listed some of the best ways to do so below.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
Unfortunately stress is an unavoidable part of life, and different things can trigger it. Life situations such as moving house, getting married, or even emigrating are common sources of stress, which is why it’s best to not avoid it.
If you avoid stress, you could irrevocably damage your mental health. Instead of trying to avoid stress and stressful situations, manage it.
There are a number of different stress management strategies for both home, and even the workplace. Ask your employer about looking into first aid for mental health courses.
Play Your Favourite Music
Playing calm music has been proven to have a positive effect on the mind and body. Playing calming music, or even your favourite songs up loud has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the hormone cortisol, a hormone that when present indicates stress.
Calming music can include classical music, as well as film and TV scores, or even nature sounds. Recently a new trend on YouTube has been that of soundscapes which include rainy coffee shops, jazz bars and even landscapes from times gone by.
Natural sounds and soundscapes all possess the same relaxing effects, so try one out the next time you’re feeling stressed.
Talk it out with a Friend
Talking is one of the most natural remedies available for those who are suffering from stress. It’s why mental health professionals recommend therapy, or calling helplines when people are suffering profusely from mental ill-health.
If you’re able, take a moment and call either a friend or family member and talk through your problems. Sometimes just having someone else’s perspective or advice can calm us and make us see things from an entirely new viewpoint.
Talk it Through With Yourself
If calling a friend or family member isn’t an option, sit quietly and instead vent your thoughts out loud to yourself.
Sometimes forming the words and actually concentrating on the issue makes us see the matter more clearly, and we can explore potential resolutions.
Try not to feel silly! Instead, think of it as an out loud pep talk.
Eat the Right Things
A nutritional diet benefits stress levels and hormones more than you may think. Sugary, or fatty foods can actually make us feel worse because although we experience a temporary sugar rush, the crash we may experience can exacerbate things.
Instead eat nutritious meals when you’re stressed. Include a lot of fruits and vegetables, and re-energize your brain with fish. Fish contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which is also proven to reduce stress and its symptoms. Even something as simple as a tuna sandwich can kickstart your brain energy.
It may be cliche but laughter is truly the best medicine. Laughter releases endorphins capable of lifting our mood and decreasing cortisol levels.
Join a zoom call or a socially distanced meetup with friends and laugh it out, or stick on your favourite comedy. It’s medically therapeutic!
Drink Green or Herbal Tea
Coffee may be the go-to for caffeine addicts but it has the same adverse effects as sugar. Short term spikes in blood pressure and energy only cause long-term crashes on the other side.
In addition, too much caffeine can overstimulate anxiety levels, increasing stress.
Opt instead for green, or herbal tea. Herbal teas contain antioxidants and theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to have calming effects on the nervous system.
Take a Moment to be Mindful
Mindfulness is at the heart of meditation, a traditional practice proven to relax and reduce stress.
The best part about mindfulness is that you don’t need to meditate to perform it. Instead, when you reach a particularly stressful moment, just pause and breathe. Allow yourself a moment to think through your next move, and to assess everything that has happened to have you feeling any emotions you’re currently experiencing.
Address them, and then exhale. Your next move should then come from a place of better understanding and stillness, helping to keep you calmer.
If it’s possible, take up yoga and qigong. Both of these exercises use mindfulness, and target stress reduction in their practice.
To exercise you don’t need to throw on your workout clothes and dedicate yourself to an entire session.
A brisk 20 minute walk outside counts as exercise, and better yet – you’re in the fresh air, something proven to reset the mind.
Simply getting moving can release endorphins, boosting your mood and removing you from a stressful situation.
Set a Sleep Routine
Unfortunately this is a double-sided coin, as stress can actually cause insomnia and interrupted sleep.
Lack of sleep then also worsens stress because it interrupts the synchronicity between brain and body.
One way to help this is to try and stick to a rigid bedtime routine. Set a sleep time and a wake time and stick to that. Before bed, lower the lights and avoid screens so that you can signal to your brain and body that it’s time to wind down for the night. Reading a book is also a great accompanier to sleep as it can take your mind off of your worries beforehand.
The next time you are feeling stressed, try one of these 8 methods. We hope that they help you.