By: Debbie Lui
With the ever-increasing pace of our day to day lives, stress has become a popular subject of our everyday conversations. Being aware of the negative impacts stress can have on our wellbeing, it’s easy to see stress as a big, dark cloud that drains your energy and positivity. But, moderate stress can actually be beneficial! It’s time to find a balance with these TLS Tips on activities to manage stress levels and keep them within a healthy range!
Good vs. Bad Stress
It’s no secret that chronic stress has been linked to different health issues including:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased bone loss
- Weight gain
- Stomach discomfort
- Sleep disturbances
and more! So, if stress can pose a threat to our health, yet stress is inevitable then we should do everything we can get rid of it in our daily lives, right? Nope. Like we said, not all stress is bad stress! Good stress – also called eustress – can help boost your performance, productivity, and prime our bodies to respond more quickly to a stimulus! This is the type of stress you feel before a big game or race, planning a party, or right before a presentation at work.
Rather treating stress as an enemy, we can treat stress as a friend – one that we need in life to keep us productive and alert. At the same time, we need to keep it at a certain distance when it overwhelms us and affects our quality of life and health. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, explains how we can make stress our friend during her insightful TED Talk below! You may see stress in a different way after watching the video.
insert video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU]
But, even eustress is only healthy in short doses. When we force our bodies to operate under stress for long periods of time, it can become a concern worth focusing on! The bottom line here is to keep stress at a manageable level where it doesn’t interfere with your normal life, relationships, and wellbeing. Expecting to be stress-free at all times is simply unrealistic, but it is very important for us to know the ways in which to manage stress!
Activities to Manage Stress
Everyone has their own ways of relaxing at the end of the day. While we hope your methods are healthy and effective, it’s always helpful to know which ones truly are. Snacking, munching, and plain overeating are common ways that people try and reduce the stress they’re struggling with. Most of us have once found ourselves curled up on the couch with a pint of ice cream, a glass of wine, or bag of chips hoping it’ll wash away some tension. Though it does help us to feel better temporarily, it isn’t doing any good in the long run! Rather than indulging in unhealthy foods and creating unhealthy habits, check out the list of activities below suggested by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Take a Step Back:
It may seem difficult to get away from a big work project, a crying baby, or a growing credit card bill, but sometimes a little space is the best recipe for success. By giving yourself permission to step away from a situation or problem that has become too overwhelming to manage, you allow yourself the time and energy to clear your head and gain a new perspective.
We love this tip because we know running from stress doesn’t make it go away! After all, those bills have to be paid sometime! But those 20 minutes spent gathering your wits and clarity are 20 minutes well-spent.
We’ve all heard of the numerous benefits of exercise. Not only does it benefits our bodies but it also benefits our mind by promoting the release of hormones and endorphins that make your day-to-day problems seem just a touch further away. Don’t worry, we aren’t saying you need to head out on a 13 miler or and hit the gym for an hour-long workout; a brisk 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give you the immediate boost that will leave you feeling better for hours!
Try visiting our Pinterest page and pick a few quick exercises to fit into your day. You can even create a lengthy end-of-day workout from the exercises provided for when you’ve just had one of those days. Make time to do this regularly, and you might just be amazed at how your mood and stress levels change!
Smile + Laugh
If you are on a tight schedule or injured, exercise might not be an option that is available to you. Thankfully, this stress-relieving activity is simple, helpful, and can be done anywhere, anytime you want to! Simply taking the time to smile and laugh can also promote the production of feel-good chemicals in our bodies that make stressful days more manageable. Our brains, emotions and facial expressions are all interconnected. It’s common to hold stress in our face, so laughing and smiling also helps relieve some of that tension as well. There is a reason why laughter is known as the best medicine!
Find Social Support
If you’re going through a tough time, talking to someone might sound like a solution that’s too simple to work, but it really is one of the best possible things you can do! Calling a friend, sending a message, or scheduling a coffee date or get-together with friends and family is a great way to take put things in perspective and sort through complicated emotions. Talking out loud about what’s going on in your head and going through the process of explaining it to someone else, even if you think it doesn’t make sense, often makes them less scary.
Make sure that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you. If your family is a stressor, for example, it may not alleviate your stress if you share your works woes with one of them. Remember, there is always someone willing to listen to you, connect with a social worker or mentor, sometimes a listening ear is just what we need.
Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people can release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits. When you feel stressed, find yourself a quiet room, and spend as little as a couple of minute and practice meditation, it helps to reduce stress level.
If you are a musical person, you might already find this method one of the best stress relief activities. We have all experienced that immediate mood boost when you turn on the radio to the sudden sound of your favorite song! It’s more than just enjoying the smooth melodies and pulsing beats – studies suggest that music can actually have a scientific impact on stress levels.
Any kind of music will do; it just depends on your taste! Experiment with new and old favorites, whatever type of music you prefer, and lose yourself in the relaxing rhythms. Download a few songs in your phone, so that you can easy to access wherever and whenever you need!
If you have been to a spa, have you noticed the scented candles, oils, and diffusers around the room? As amazing as they smell, have you taken the time to wonder why they were there? Just like music, certain scents such as eucalyptus, lavender, and sage have been shown to reduce stress levels. You can reap the benefits of aromatherapy in several ways such as:
- Lighting candles
- Diffusing essential oils
- Adding oils to a bath or shower
- Massage oils
- Essential Oil Wearbles
Surround Yourself with Loved Ones
There is something so comforting about being with the people you love! You are almost assuredly going to reminisce about old memories and enjoy the sense of security from it. The laughter you share with your loved ones can help minimize stress. Not only that, but time spent hugging and generally feeling loved help to reduce the effects stress and have plenty of other positive health benefits!
Get in touch with your inner-child and spend some time coloring! Adult coloring books are all the rage these days, so you’ll have no trouble finding one you enjoy. There is no complex scientific explanation for why adult coloring books help with stress, but a combination of nostalgia, relaxation and the small rewards of progress make for a great stress reducer. The final products also make for beautiful pieces of art to decorate your home or office, and the feeling of accomplishment is always a welcome one.
Some stress relief activities take some time to learn, but once you have practiced for a few times these techniques will feel like second nature. Pick a few of the activities above that you enjoy doing and arrange a time for these activities in your daily schedule to help manage your stress and negative emotions. After all, managing stress is not as difficult as we thought!
Did you find these activities to manage stress useful?
Leave us a comment below to share your thoughts and your way to relax!
APA. Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. Retrieved on July 10, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx
Erstad W., 7 Stress Reliving Activities to Keep You Clam, Cool & Collected. Rasmussen College Retrieved on July 10, 2018, form https://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/stress-relieving-activities/
Positive Psychology Program. 62 Stress management Techniques & Tips To Prevent A Burn out. Retrieved on July 10, 2018, from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/stress-management-techniques-tips-burn-out/