Stress can be caused by a wide variety of things, but it’s often a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. This situation usually comes after an emotional or traumatic event which can start a chain of strong and lingering reactions.

5 Tips for Coping With Stress

Stress can be caused by a wide variety of things, but it’s often a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. This situation usually comes after an emotional or traumatic event which can start a chain of strong and lingering reactions. 

Stress can have a negative effect on your emotional equilibrium, as well as on your physical health. It might seem as though you can’t do anything about stress and that you will have to live with it for the rest of your life. Having too many bills, not having enough hours of  free time during the day, work and family responsibilities, these factors as well as many others can very easily leave you feeling lost and adrift in a sea of stress.

Developing effective stress management strategies is an important part of helping you break free from damaging stress in your life so that you can be happier, healthier and more productive. The ultimate goal of a stress management strategy is to achieve a better balanced life and a healthier relationship with work, family, and friends.

Here are some tips for tackling stress:

1. Identify the source of your stress

Your very first step is to identify why you are so stressed. While there might appear to be pretty obvious causes (relationship challenges, changing jobs, preparing for a big presentation, etc.) sometimes the cause might not be as obvious as it looks. You could be feeling stressed as a result of a heavy workload, but upon closer inspection it is your procrastination that led you to experiencing distress. Don’t jump to quick conclusions, take time to analyze your situation to ensure that you are not overlooking a hidden or seemingly unrelated factor that is adding to your  stress levels.

2. Exercise

Having a workout routine as part of your activities during the week is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. Exercising is also known for improving one’s mood. Note that for the benefits to be felt long-term, you have to integrate your workout routine at least 3 times each week.

Working out up to 30 minutes every day is ideal. You don't have to have an aggressive regimen. Even physical activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, or other low-impact sports are a great way to improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Focus on setting achievable fitness goals so that you can start seeing the benefits quickly, rather than aim too high and then give up. 

3. Relax your muscles

When you are stressed your muscles tend to tense-up and tighten. A great way to counteract this is by doing stretches during the day. Not only will this release the tension in individual muscles, it can also provide you with an overall feeling of being more relaxed.

We recommended the following activities to relax your muscles at different points in the day: 

  • Stretching
  • Taking a hot bath or shower
  • Getting a massage
  • Getting a good night sleep

4. Breathing exercises 

Setting aside a few minutes to take slow deep breaths can help lift some pressure almost immediately. Your breathing is closely tied to your overall sense of wellbeing and impacts on how much oxygen you are taking in at any given moment. Breathing in slowly and deeply can  also slow down a racing heartbeat. 

Here’s how to activate the benefits of deep breathing:

  1. Sit (or lay down) in a comfortable position
  2. Close your eyes
  3. Think of a place that bring you calm
  4. Slowly take deep breaths in and out
  5. Do this for approximately 5 to 10 minutes

5. Hobbies and other enjoyable leisure activities

Set aside some time to do the activities that you enjoy, even doing so in increments of just 15 to 20 min will help.

Reading, tackling an art project, playing a video game, and watching a movie are common examples of activities people enjoy doing for relaxation. Ultimately, the decision on what you want to do should be yours. Reclaim and enjoy a bit of free time each day, or at minimum at least once every week.

A last piece of advice: Go easy on yourself! 

Accept that you can’t do things perfectly, no matter how hard you try. You also can’t control everything in your life. Do yourself a favor and stop thinking that everything is your responsibility. Call on others for help and/or reassurance, if you are feeling overwhelmed or in distress  -  and don’t forget to keep your sense of humor. Having a good laugh every once in a while helps you to appreciate the lighter side of life and will help you keep moving forward.

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