Whether we like it or not, stress is a part of our day-to-day lives. It’s important to know how to relieve stress so that it doesn’t take a toll on your mental health.
Stress manifests differently for each person. Some people may experience primarily physical symptoms (such as headaches and stomach pain), while others may have more emotional symptoms (like difficulty focusing and mood swings). Without proper management, stress can even lead to longer term mental health issues, such as:
- Depression: stress lowers your mood, which can increase the risk of developing depression
- Panic Attacks: stress leads to higher levels of the neurotransmitter, epinephrine, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response, responsible for panic attacks
- Insomnia: stress can manifest as physical tension and racing thoughts, which can make sleeping difficult
Tips for Stress Relief
- Clear your schedule. When we’re experiencing stress, it can be easy to feel like we’re struggling to keep up. If stress is getting to you, work on cutting down the commitments in your life. Making space in your schedule will make things feel less rushed and give back your sense of control.
- Incorporate some mindfulness. If you’re not able to clear your schedule, find ways to take mental breaks during your day. Breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises are an easy way to relieve your stress, even if you’re sitting at a desk. Try this. This breathing GIF.
- Lean into your physical health. According to The American Institute for Stress, 77 percent of people experience regular physical symptoms related to stress. Physical activity is a great method of stress relief. Simple activities like taking a ten minute walk can make a huge difference.
- Reach into your self-care kit. Ideally, self-care should be part of your regular mental health routine. But when you’re feeling stressed out, it’s even more important. Not sure where to start? Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the building blocks for maintaining our physical and mental health. Protect your sleep when you’re feeling stressed. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are great online tools like white noise and sleep podcasts that you can try for free.
- Connect with family and friends. Social supports can make a big difference in how we handle stress. Fifty-seven percent of people turn to friends or family to help them manage their stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Lean into the important people in your life and ask for help when you need it.
- Cut back on unhealthy coping mechanisms. We all have guilty pleasures that we indulge in occasionally. But when we need stress relief, it’s crucial to focus on healthy coping mechanisms.
- Invest in some new hobbies. Channel your stress and worry into learning a new activity or hobby. Even if it just acts as a distraction, a hobby can be a great way to spend the free time that you might have spent worrying.
- Get help from an expert. If stress is starting to interfere with your day-to-day life, it might be time to seek medical advice. Talk to a general practitioner or a mental health professional. Stress will always be a part of our lives but with some work, we can manage it and minimize its effects on our daily lives.
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