Use These 7 Coping Strategies to Lead a Stress-Free Life

Use These 7 Coping Strategies to Lead a Stress-Free Life

We will never outgrow the stress. The key is to learn how to manage it. Uncontrolled stress can have serious consequences on your health. When you are stressed, you may feel irritable and frustrated or, if the stress is chronic, you may experience symptoms like frequent headaches, changes in sex drive, digestive upset, depression, low energy and trouble sleeping.

In honor of National Stress Awareness Day, we wanted to review the steps you can take to maintain your well-being in the midst of difficult situations. These seven tips can help you relieve stress effectively.

You will also learn common anxiety triggers and that anxiety myths you can stop believing today.

Why do I feel stress?

Stress is natural. It is your body’s physical, mental or emotional response to external situations. It’s different for everyone. What stresses you out may not phase your friends.

In stressful situations, our body responds by activating the Sympathetic Nervous System, the part of the autonomic nervous system known as the fight or flight response. Your heart starts to beat faster, and you start to sweat and stiffen up. It is a chemical process that prepares your body to physically react to being attacked.

Even when you’re not in physical danger, your body still reacts the same way to things that overwhelm you. You’re more susceptible to stressful situations when you don’t get enough sleep, don’t eat well, and don’t have a strong support system.

How to Relieve Stress

Remember that your way of dealing with stress may be different from that of others, and that’s okay. Ultimately, stress reduction is a personalized approach. Most advice is fairly general; it allows you to find your common ground and decide what works for you. Use these tips to start your stress-busting journey. The best part is that they are free and you can do them anywhere.

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1. Exercise to improve your mood

Exercise can act as an intervention for anxiety and depression. A study in college students found that two days of aerobic exercise greatly reduced perceived stress and improved self-reported depression. Long periods of inactivity are associated with higher levels of mood disorders and increased stress. Exercise can benefit your mood and help you “break the cycle” of stress.

The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. You don’t need a gym membership or special home machines; it’s doable at home and easier than you think. If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, try going for a walk. A 20 minute walk outside will lower your stress hormone levels.

2. Make self-care part of your routine

What is Self-Care? Think of it as filling yourself up healthily by doing things that promote emotional and physical well-being. It’s easy to get into negative space when you’re stressed or exhausted. Incorporating self-care into your daily routine will help you stay positive and recognize that some things are out of your control without feeling overwhelmed. A 2018 study of medical students concluded that those who self-care regularly report lower stress levels and higher quality of life.

Another part of self-care is focusing on positive self-talk. In times of stress, it’s easy to let negative thoughts take over. Positive self-talk isn’t about ignoring the bad stuff; it means that you approach the situation with a positive attitude. Research shows that positive self-talk is associated with lower levels of depression, stress, and greater life satisfaction.

Self-care and positive self-talk should be part of your daily routine. It’s not something you have to save until you’re empty.

3. Practice mindfulness or yoga

When you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system triggers your fight or flight response. Your parasympathetic nervous system is the counterpart that brings your body back to a state of balance. breathing exercises during stressful situations activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help you relax.

A meta-analysis of over 200 studies concluded that mindfulness-based therapy reduces depression, anxiety, and stress. Daily meditation is another powerful tool for increasing focus and mood even in short bursts.

Yoga is one of the most popular tactics to get rid of stress. Studies have shown that yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety while increasing overall well-being.

Man in yoga class

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4. Drink less caffeine

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide, with the average American drinker having just over three cups a day. Short-term benefits associated with caffeine include increased alertness, attention, and concentration. This happens because caffeine activates your fight or flight response.

Also, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, which aids sleep in the body. The adenosinergic system is involved in both the origin and the processing of mood and anxiety. This suggests that caffeine may exacerbate symptoms in people at increased risk for anxiety disorders.

Everyone has one different tolerance for caffeineso you can be healthy and drink coffee. Finding your ideal balance is as simple as noting how you feel after each additional cup. If you start to feel restless or nervous, you may replace that extra cup with water or tea in the future.

5. Don’t sacrifice sleep

If you feel anxious or overwhelmed, your sleep may suffer. It can become a vicious cycle of being stressed and tired, then unable to turn off your brain enough to fall asleep. However, the more you sleep, the more your perceived stress level decreases.

So how do you get quality sleep when you’re tired? It all boils down to getting your body ready for bed. The adrenaline and cortisol in your body keep you from going from an overpowering state to sleep. To combat this, you can try incorporating relaxing activities into your nighttime routine. Not only does your body begin to expect to fall asleep after your routine, but it also helps you relax enough to fall asleep. A nighttime routine will be different for everyone – common activities include reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music, or doing yoga.

6. Make meaningful connections

A support system made up of friends and family members can help reduce stress, especially during transitional stages like college. However, if your family is the source of your stress, it’s also important to set boundaries for yourself and others. Limits are a key way to protect your sanity and can keep you from overdoing it. The boundaries you create are entirely up to you – it can be as simple as “please call before you drop by”. Studies have shown that the more successful you are in setting boundaries in your personal and professional life, the bigger buffer you have for stress.

Pets are another source of stress reduction. Kissing your pet signals your body to release oxytocin, which is one of the feel-good hormones. People who have pets tend to have lower levels of loneliness and anxiety. So if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, take a minute and go hug your pet. Science backs the benefits.

Man petting his dog

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7. Set realistic goals

Reaching for the stars is fine, but so is setting realistic goals for yourself – whatever they are. It’s important to be aware of what you can control and how it impacts what you want to achieve. It is normal to want to achieve the goals and expectations that we set for ourselves. Putting them out of your reach – even optimistically – can backfire and leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Unrealistic goals can be a source of stress that depresses you when you don’t achieve them.

Too long; did not read?

Feeling stressed is a natural reaction of our body. It’s completely normal to have waves where you are more or less overwhelmed. Since you can’t change everything and completely get rid of stress, learning how to manage it healthily is essential. Identify your stress triggers and use these simple tips to manage those negative feelings.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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