It’s ironic that these days, when more and more attention is focused on having good mental health, we seem to find ourselves subject to more stress than ever before. The world’s moving faster, there’s pressure from social media and there’s huge competition to get the jobs we want and the careers we’re aiming for.
Pretty much from our first day at school the pressures start to be applied. And by the time we get to college it’s estimated that three out of every four students feel stressed with potentially very serious consequences.
Having said this, stress doesn’t entirely deserve the bad rap that it’s getting; it’s just a response to external stimuli that can give us the extra push to get through a situation. After all, everyone from performers to athletes will admit to feeling all the symptoms of stress before going on stage or the sports field. It’s the same sensation you get before having to speak in public and, in the end, it is going to enhance your performance.
Given that it’s hard wired into our system, stress isn’t just going to go away, so we just have to learn to deal with it — and here are 10 surefire techniques and habits to help.
Take Up Yoga
One of the great things about yoga is that it can be done almost anywhere without the need for equipment. Once you’ve become a little experienced you can simply settle down in a quiet spot and concentrate on stretching, breathing and meditating. There are even some sound physiological benefits including reduced heart rate and blood pressure as well as a lowering of cortisol levels in your body.
If yoga’s not your kind of thing then a good alternative is to take up the practice of mindfulness. You’ll find plenty of guides online to explain how to go about it if you don’t already know. It’s a question of making yourself truly present in the moment and focused on one thing. This may be anything from using a coloring book or eating a particularly delicious piece of food.
While we’re on the subject of food, a healthier diet can help you feel far better equipped to deal with stress whenever a situation arises. Junk food, on the other hand, can have a depressing effect on your mood, making you feel sluggish, unhealthy and far less able to cope. So the secret is to have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; maybe even consider trying to cut out gluten and dairy products from your diet.
Cut Out The Caffeine
As part of your changed, less stress-inducing diet, the single most important chemical to cut out is caffeine. We all know the wired feeling we can get when we’ve had an extra strong espresso or drunk too many energy drinks to see us through a night of cramming for an exam. It’s very similar to the feeling we get from stress — and it’s easy to avoid by drinking water to hydrate our bodies and our brains instead.
Play a Game or Two
Playing games of all kinds is all about more than just fun. It gives us time to get away from the day to day and put things into perspective. Many games also teach us new skills too. But if you want a simple game that is undemanding and easy to play then online bingo could be a perfect choice, especially when many bingo sites offer great offers to new players. So you might not just be busting stress, you could even be winning a little cash too.
Get Some Exercise
We often hear about all the endorphins that are released into our bodies after running, swimming or just taking a walk; these are valuable in helping us to feel more energized, enthusiastic and ready for anything. The fact that exercise helps us to look and feel better also boosts self-confidence, which can be important in overcoming the feelings of stress.
Listen to Music
Music is one of the great mood changers and enhancers that works on so many levels. Yes, there are lyrics that may or may not mean something to you but the actual tone and melody communicate on a more subconscious level. So when you’re feeling under pressure you can choose music to soothe or even to prepare and energize you for the challenge that lies ahead.
Laugh at Something Funny
There’s an old saying that laughter is the best medicine and, while there are many, many diseases that it can’t cure, it does provide a very useful release valve when you’re feeling stressed. Whether it’s watching hilarious cat videos on YouTube or catching one of your all-time favorite comedy shows on Netflix, stopping everything for a few minutes of simple amusement might be all you need to relax a little.
Share Your Stress
There’s another old saying that says a problem shared is a problem halved. And by talking to friends or family members about what’s making you stressed, it really can help it to either become less important or make it easier to handle. By looking at things objectively they will be able to offer neutral advice and you’ll feel so much better for having gotten things off your chest.
Cut Out the Things That Stress You
We can all get so bound up in our lives that we fail to see all the little things that crank up our stress levels. But once we stand back and take a good long look there are probably several of them that we can dispense with altogether. Admittedly, this won’t get rid of all the stress in our life, but it will make the rest of it easier to handle.
Hopefully these suggestions have left you better prepared to combat stress and you’ve probably got a few more of your own. So now it’s time to take a deep breath and put them into action!