Friday, May 4, 2018

Strategies for Combatting Stress

When was the last time you did nothing? Literally, you weren’t doing anything at all. In today’s fast-paced society, idleness seems to be a thing of the past, like CDs and The Brady Bunch. Instead, we’re constantly rushing between appointments we’ve got booked on our calendars and soaking up information on our handheld screens in the “off” moments. Being busy has become almost an indicator of success – the busier, the better.

That busy-ness offers plenty of opportunities. But it also comes with stress. In 2015, 24 percent of American adults reported experiencing extreme stress, a 6 percent increase compared to the previous year. Similar stress statistics follow suit: They’re on an upward trend. While we may not be able to stop the trajectory of our fast-paced society, we can control how we react to it. And there are a number of techniques we can use to help relieve the stress we feel. Read on for a few of the top ones!

Move Your Body

One way to reduce stress is by exercising. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers (also known as endorphins). Exercise also helps reduce fatigue and improve alertness, concentration and overall cognitive function, which can do wonders when stress has depleted your energy. Whether your preferred means of physical activity is walking, surfing or yoga, your body will benefit from it, and so will your mind.

Make Time for Relaxing

It seems so simple, but many of us don’t set aside the time we need to actually relax. Find an activity that helps you relax, such as meditation, knitting or listening to music, and schedule regular times for it. Making these activities a part of your routine will decrease the chances of you forgetting about them. Just like you wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment, hold yourself to the times you plan to unwind. 

Prioritize (and Say “No”)

Decide what you need to accomplish in your day and what can wait. Then, give yourself permission to hold off on the things that can wait. Yes, that person might not get a response to their email until tomorrow. And that load of laundry won’t get washed just yet. But you’ll get around to them in good time. And your mind will be more relaxed for it.

And while we’re on the topic of prioritizing, know when to say “no” when you feel overloaded. It can be difficult, but those two small letters can do so much for you, both body and mind. Saying yes to everything usually means you’re spreading yourself thin – and that’s not going to be good for anyone.

Connect

Connect with people you enjoy spending time with. Whether it’s a short walk with a neighbor at the end of the day or a 15-minute phone call with a friend far away, connecting with people in your life will help alleviate stress. These people are a support network you can turn to in times of difficulty, perhaps to vent or maybe to bring over some food when the going gets tough.

Don’t Procrastinate 

Procrastinating means you’re in a constant scramble. By putting things off, you’re keeping them in the back of your mind with the knowledge that they need to get done at one point or another. By the time you get around to doing the task, it’s usually not half as bad as the anticipation that’s been building from all that procrastination. Organize your tasks with realistic deadlines and maintain focus when working toward those deadlines. This will prevent things from building up and reduce your overall stress levels.

Stress can be all-encompassing – when we let it. By constantly working to reduce stress, we bring ourselves closer to happier, more fulfilling lives without getting hung up on the small stuff. Feel free to share your own stress management techniques in the comments below!