Top 6 Ways to Reduce Stress and Regain Some Calm in Life
At the time of this writing, the world is gripped in the middle of a global pandemic, economies are being stressed, businesses are closing their doors - in short, times are stressful.
Even in more sane times, stress management is a challenge. If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and take a step back - we understand.
Luckily, there are tried and tested ways of reducing stress in your life that you can start putting into practice immediately.
So without further ado, here are the top 6 ways to reduce stress and regain some calm in your life.
1. Your Diet
It's no secret that a poor diet can have a huge impact on your mood. Proteins, vegetables and complex carbohydrates are essential for the body to function properly, and they can also help you feel less stressed.
In fact, more and more studies are demonstrating the nearly 1:1 link between stress and a poor diet. It's a two-way street - poor diet can lead to stress, but stress can also lead to poor diet. Make sure your diet is rich in the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals. A well balanced diet will help you feel calm and reduce your stress levels.
Finally, don’t forget the value of routine. Having a dependable routine and eating healthy, regularly will help keep you anchored.
It's hard to feel stressed when you've just completed a great workout. Painful and regretting everything? Yes. Stressed? Probably not!
Exercise is the single best way of reducing stress and increasing productivity. It's not just the endorphins either - exercise brings you clarity of thought and helps you to focus on the present moment.
Regardless of whether you prefer running, walking, yoga, or weight training - make sure you're hitting the gym at least 2-3 times a week. If gyms are locked down in your area, there’s plenty of callisthenic routines you can start immediately.
If you're pressed for time, try working out on your lunch break, or even while eating your sandwich (don’t mind the stares). People who exercise during the day feel significantly less stress and are more productive than those who don't.
It's easy to underestimate how important sleep is.
If you're not getting your eight hours, you're not going to feel on top of the world. That’s a given. Getting a good night's sleep can reduce your stress levels, improve your mood and ultimately moderate your mental health.
If you're suffering from stress, you're more likely to have trouble sleeping, which means you're going to be more stressed, which will make it more difficult to sleep. It's a vicious cycle that can be broken quickly.
If you're a light sleeper, try going to bed earlier, or try out a white noise machine. Make sure you're not distracted by your smartphone, and try to turn off your work phone before bed.
Can’t sleep? Leg cramps? Magnesium - seriously.
4. Connect With Friends
In the age of video calls and imaginary friends, it's hard to forget how important friends are.
When you're feeling stressed, it's important to make time to catch up with your friends. Good friends function as low-level therapists - they’re there to listen, to share, to talk, and to help you see things from a different perspective.
The most common successful coping strategy for stressed college students? Talking to friends and family. At the end of the day, humans are pack animals and staying isolated and in your head will do nothing but increase your stress levels.
So if you’re reading this from a less chaotic future world, get hang out with your friends. For those knee-deep in the COVID-world? It’s Zoom time.
(Note: friends are no substitute for a real therapist!)
Nobody is going to feel stressed when they're breathing purposefully. It's as simple as that.
There's a reason that yoga is so popular - as it turns out ancient breathing techniques work! Yoga is a great way to relax and reduce stress in your life. Even if you're an absolute beginner, just taking a few deep breaths and moderately stretching your muscles can lower your heart rate and relax your nervous system.
Don't have time for a full yoga class? Just taking a few deep breaths can be enough to help you feel less stressed. It's the simplest technique in the world, battle tested over millennia, and something everyone can do at any time.
Stop what you’re doing. Take 3 deep breaths - in through your nose, out through your mouth.
6. De-Stress Rituals
Start habitualizing a few stress-relieving rituals. This could be as simple as having a long soak in the bath, or taking a walk around the block, or listening to your favorite music.
If you’re a religious person, a prayer or a moment of meditation can do wonders. If that’s not your thing, meditation, mindfulness and daily moments of solemnity can do wonders for your mental state!
In general, set up a stress-relieving routine and engage it whenever you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed. Remember how we discussed routine?
Here are some ideas:
1. Taking a bath
2. Listening to music
3. Going for a walk
4. Having a cup of tea
If you’re thinking “well that’s simple” - it’s because it is. Stress is something humans have been dealing with for as long as we’ve been around. It’s important not to overcomplicate it, and really focus on getting the fundamentals right.
Simplify and ritualize parts of your life - your stress levels will lower almost immediately.
If you're currently feeling stressed, try some of these techniques in combination. It's a great way of helping you find balance and feel less stressed. If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and take a step back. Ultimately, stress is a physiological response to your situation - there are LOTS of tried and tested techniques you can employ immediately to reduce your stress levels.
You can find some tools to help with your stress relief journey here.
Always remember - at the end of the day, you're in control. You’ve got this.