Do you find yourself awake in bed at night when you should be sleeping yourself worrying about things when your mind should be elsewhere? As life becomes more sedentary and less physically active, learning to manage stress is more important than ever. Stress alters your body chemistry in negative ways, and learning to control the effects (and your mindset) is an invaluable tool. Here are a few ways to effectively reduce your stress level.
- Learn to say no. Do you have a tendency to overcommit yourself? One way to reduce your stress level is to learn to manage your time better. Sometimes this means saying no to people, assignments or activities you know you can’t take on. Whether it’s that birthday party competing for time against a family event, or being honest about not having time for that happy hour, learning to say no can be an empowering experience. Just make sure you don’t do it so often that the invitations stop coming.
- Eliminate toxic people from your life (or at least reduce your exposure). Ask yourself how the people around you tend to affect you. While you (probably) can’t quit your job because you happen to sit next to the office grouch, you can remove people from your social circle if they never seem to do anything but bring down your mood. In a work setting, if the toxicity is getting to be too much, try to set some firm boundaries. Don’t give toxic people the opportunity to make you mad, upset or otherwise emotionally volatile. Politely excuse yourself before your blood pressure leaves its normal range.
Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.
- Meditate in whatever way feels helpful. There are a million articles about mindfulness, mediation and stress relief out there. Try a few things out until you find something that feels right for you. Decompression is so very important to your health, so try and find a little time for meditation in your day.
- Disconnect whenever possible. It’s harder than ever to remember to take downtime for yourself when we are all so connected via smartphone. But disconnecting is important to the quality of your sleep, your concentration level and so much more. Maybe during the workweek isn’t the right time for you, but try and unplug for a few hours each weekend. Don’t look at work email. Don’t feel the need to answer every text right away. Take a few hours to do something non-electronic.
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.
- Indulge sporadically in something that brings you pleasure. Every once in a while, say yes to the piece of birthday cake, the cocktail offered, or anything else you take pleasure from. Moderation is key to maintaining balance, but certain rewards will activate the parts of your brain that keep you happy and well-regulated. So remember to cut loose now and then and say yes to something you really want.
- Get plenty of exercise. Nothing wipes negative emotions away faster than physical exercise. Whether your preference is running, cycling, yoga, etc., make exercise part of your regular routine (even if you can only do it a few times a week and not every day). Bad day? Run it off! You’ll feel better after (not to mention regular exercise improves things like the quality of your sleep).
- Remember to stop and take the weight of things. It’s easy to jump to conclusions (or infer more meaning from them than intended) if we are already upset. So remember to stop and take a minute to look at it from a distance. Where does it fit on your life scale? Perspective shapes everything we do; your stress level is no different. So make sure it’s really worth it before you get worked up over something that may be entirely beyond your control.