Stress is a normal reaction to changes or challenges. In small amounts, stress isn’t harmful and can even motivate a person to take action. However, when stress becomes overwhelming or chronic, it can increase the risk of certain health issues, including depression, anxiety, digestive issues, obesity, stroke, and heart attack.
Whether you’re currently feeling stressed or not, it’s important to learn how to manage stress so that you can quell it before it becomes a significant issue. Here are our top stress management tips that aim to reduce stress and its impact on your well-being.
1. Learn to recognize stress
The first step in learning to manage stress is recognizing it when it shows up. While stress will manifest differently for everyone, common signs of stress include:
- Feelings of fear, shock, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, frustration, or disbelief
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic mental or physical health problems
- Engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, using drugs, consuming too much alcohol, or excessive shopping or gambling
Take a minute to contemplate how stress manifests for you. Once you know what to look for, you can start taking steps to manage it.
2. Accept the things you can’t change and change the things you can
It can help to take inventory of what’s causing your stress. Is it work? Finances? A relationship? Worry about your children? A combination of things? If you realize that there’s something that’s causing you stress and it’s within your control to change it, start taking small steps towards doing so.
On the flip side, a lot of stress is generated by trying to control situations or people that you don’t (and never will) have control over. Recognizing that there are certain things in your life that you can’t change allows you to let go of the fight, which reduces stress considerably. That’s not to say that you need to change your viewpoint on these things. You can still view them as unfortunate, if that’s how you feel, but work towards accepting that these things are out of your hands.
3. Change your outlook
When something goes wrong, how do you react? If you’re like most people, you probably think something along the lines of “Ugh, why does everything always go wrong?!” While it’s perfectly reasonable to feel strong emotions during challenging times, it can be helpful to try to change your outlook towards stressful situations. Rather than questioning why things always go wrong, tell yourself that you’ll find a way through it, as you always do. This shift might not come easy at first, but over time, you’ll start to notice that your thoughts naturally gravitate towards being more encouraging and supportive in the face of stress.
4. Find ways to relax
When you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system (also known as the “fight-or-flight” system) goes into overdrive. To counter this, it’s important to engage in activities that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the “rest and digest” system). Activating the parasympathetic nervous system will slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure which, in turn, will help you feel calmer.
There are many relaxation techniques you can try. Some ideas include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, taking a hot bath, listening to relaxing music, getting a massage, or diffusing calming essential oils. Don’t you feel a little more relaxed just thinking about those things?
5. Do something you enjoy
When stress is overwhelming you, counter it by engaging in an activity that brings you joy. This will look different for everyone, but some ideas include taking a hike in nature, reading a good book, watching your favorite TV show, having dinner with a friend, baking, or whipping up a tasty meal. You could even take up a new hobby or attend a class. Regardless of what you choose, try to engage in at least one activity a day that’s just for you.
6. Connect with others
When you’re stressed, you might feel the desire to isolate yourself. While taking some time to yourself might be just what you need, too much time spent in isolation can increase stress and feelings of depression. Spending time with friends and family can often help you forget your troubles and feel comforted. Those close to you are most often open to listening to you and offering advice when appropriate.
If stress has become a significant problem in your life, you may also want to seek out professional support from a trained therapist. They can offer a non-judgmental ear and help guide you in managing your stress.
7. Practice healthy habits
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s very important to take good care of yourself. Try to eat regular meals, with an emphasis on consuming plant-based foods, including fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Exercise is another essential element of self-care and can be particularly helpful in releasing pent-up tension when you’re stressed. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Bonus points if it’s a form of exercise you enjoy!
You might also want to consider taking supportive supplements, such as JointFuel360. This oral supplement combines research-backed, anti-inflammatory ingredients, including turmeric root, black pepper extract, Boswellia serrata extract, resveratrol, collagen (type II), and hyaluronic acid. Nutritional supplements can provide your body with extra resources, promoting better overall function.
The bottom line
Stress is a normal part of life and something that everyone experiences. While you can’t make stress disappear from your life, you can take steps to manage it so that it doesn’t cause mental or physical health issues. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to stress management, so try a number of different techniques to find what works best for you.
It’s important to reiterate that stress management isn’t something you do only when you feel stressed. It’s ideally something that should be ongoing, as this can help defuse stress before it even has a chance to manifest.