Tips to relax and refocus in the moment.
You can feel it coming on. Maybe you’re running late for an important event, you just had a fight with your spouse, or your bank account is running low. Whatever the cause, you can sense your stress level increasing. A certain degree of stress is normal and even helps you stay motivated, focused, and energized, but if left unchecked, high levels of stress can negatively affect your health, relationships, and mood.
Don’t let stress hinder you from enjoying life. Learn to manage stress with these tips.
Studies show that people who are lonely or lack social support report higher levels of stress and more negative symptoms of stress. Supportive friends and family members are your first line of defense against the effects of stress, so don’t take your loved ones for granted. Plan a lunch date, call a friend on the phone, or get involved in a club or team and watch your stress melt away.
Exercise is proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger and improve your mood. This is partly due to the endorphins released by your brain during physical activity. You don’t have to run five miles to experience the benefits. Take a break and walk around the block, do a few body-weight exercises, or get on the floor and do some stretches.
Write It Down
Something as simple as writing in a journal can help manage stress. Rather than bottling up your negative emotions, spend a few minutes each day writing down the stressful things that happened and how you felt after each event. Journaling in this way helps identify your stress triggers and teaches you new ways of coping.
Listen to Music
Music has a powerful effect on your mood. The right kind of melody will lower anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate. Depending on what mood you’re in, play peaceful music to relax you or upbeat tunes to distract you. Sing along if you can!
Practice Relaxation Techniques
It seems silly, but you should take time out of your busy schedule to relax. Find what works for you. This could be deep-breathing exercises, yoga poses, tai chi, meditation, or guided imagery. It could also be as simple as a hot bath, a glass of wine, a good book, or a quick massage.
Find a Hobby
Spend time doing something you enjoy to take your mind off what’s stressing you out and helps you relax. Common hobbies include gardening, crafts, fishing, hunting, writing, volunteering, cooking, or baking. Whatever it is, pick a hobby and get to it.
Laugh a Little (Or a Lot)
What better way to take your mind off your problems than a little comic relief? Laughing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, boosts endorphins, and lightens your mood. Call a friend who makes you laugh, watch a funny movie, or read the comics.
Rather than focusing on what’s wrong in your life (finances, illness, or a strained relationship), think about the good. What do you have to be thankful for in the midst of the trouble? Spend time each day being thankful. Before you go to sleep or when your mind is overwhelmed, make a mental list of all you have to be thankful for. If you’re honest, the list may be quite long—long enough even to help you put the bad things in perspective.
Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep increases stress and makes you moody, unfocused, and unable to cope with what life throws at you. Take time to unwind before bed and aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
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