Let’s admit it. Life can be stressful. Jobs, relationships, family, and even a trip to the grocery store can be stressful. And when life demands pile up, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by even the smallest trigger.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress can take a severe emotional toll and can be debilitating both psychologically and physically. Research has linked stress to illnesses such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. While stress is commonly experienced by the majority of Americans, only 33% have discussed ways of coping with health care providers.
There are simple things you can do to reduce your stress levels, both in the short-term and long-term. Here are some ideas to help tackle stress right now:
1. Breathe. Seriously! Many people inadvertently hold their breath when they’re stressed. Take five minutes, close your eyes, and only focus on the sound of your breath.
2. Take a hot bath. Stress can be emotional and physical. By changing our body’s physical state into a more relaxed one, we can also improve our emotional state.
3. Organize your closet or room. Shift your focus and still be productive. Organizing something also gives our mind a sense of control and mastery.
4. Go for a walk or jog. Changing the general atmosphere or scenery can change our perspective, giving our mind something different to process.
5. Call a friend or family member and talk about what’s bothering you. Research shows that social support is key to coping with stress.
6. Sit down and write a list of 25 good things about your life. Developing gratitude is important in building perspective and ultimately managing stress.
7. Read a book/magazine or watch a movie. While avoidance is not a long term solution, it can definitely be useful in the short term.
8. Talk to your religious leader/advisor and seek spiritual support.
9. Eat something. Many people skip meals when they’re stressed. Maybe your body is hungry and you can’t tell because of stress-induced “butterflies” in your stomach.
10. Explore wayForward relaxation techniques and practice exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.