If you are reading this article, chances are is that you have at some point been feeling stress, or are currently feeling some at the moment. You are probably wanting to learn some ways to manage stress! Firstly, what is this thing called ‘stress’? Stress is something that affects us all at one point or another. For some people, stress can be a constant feeling state.
Stress is often times a mental/psychological state where we tend to feel that our ‘demands’ outweigh our ‘resources’. For example, more bills to pay than money coming in, or feel pressure to get tasks done and not enough time. Stress can be experienced from psychological traumas, and experienced in all aspects of our lives including within family, at work, our health, financial, and friends.
Stress can also be a physical as opposed to mental like those examples listed above. Physical stressors can include consuming poor nutrition, alcohol and drug use, cigarette use, lack of sleep, high intensity exercise, too much noise, obesity, and extreme temperatures amongst others.
Stress as a mental state is not only felt within the mind, but it is also felt within the body at a physical level. Within the mind you may find that you have many thoughts at once finding it difficult to ‘shut your mind off’, including at sleep time. You may also become more forgetful and find it harder to concentrate. You may notice yourself feeling more irritable and angry more easily. Physically, you may feel tension within your body, particularly around the throat, neck, shoulders, chest, and back for many people. With this, breathing can also become shallow and you may find that you even hold your breath at times without noticing it.
So what are some ways to reduce stress you ask? This is a good question!
1. Drink enough water. The recommended daily water intake for adults is 2 litres per day, and up to 3 litres for those who are more physically active or work in heat. When we do not consume enough water, our cells in our body become dehydrated. And when we are stressed, our cells become even more dehydrated! This is due to the stress hormones that are released by our adrenal glands during these times of stress.
2. Eat well. Good nutrition is vital to keeping stress low. When we consume a poor diet of both food and beverages, (including alcohol, coffee, softdrink etc), our cells do not get the adequate vitamins and minerals they need to function properly. For example, low intake of the mineral magnesium can contribute to our nervous system to be overactive and thus make us feel stressed. Stress also reduces the amount of magnesium in our bodies also.
3. Meditate. Meditation is also another great way to reduce stress. Meditate for at least 5 minutes in the morning when you wake up, and 5 minutes in the evening before you go to sleep. If you are new to meditation you may find that your mind will keep wanting to wander off. If this happens, that’s ok, just notice that that has happened and bring awareness back to your breath. With practice you will be able to start to hold your attention to your attention to your breath for longer amounts of mind. With this practice, your mind will start to calm and your body will start to relax. With more practice, you will also find that you start to handle situations more effectively also.
4. Practice Yoga. Yoga is a fantastic way for reducing stress and it does this in various ways. One of the ways it does this is that the practice encourages you to focus on your breath and be with your breath through all the yoga postures. Calm, regular breathing is a great way to calm the body and the mind. Also, the focus on the breath is a very mindful experience, meaning that we are focused on presence as opposed to thinking about all things in the future that haven’t even happened yet, or may not happen. Lastly, yoga is a great way of cleansing all the bodily tissues and organs of toxins and to cleanse and realign your energy centres or chakras.
5. Delegate tasks. Do you find that you have so many things to do and not enough time to do all those things? If so, you’re not alone in this modern world. A great way of managing stress is to delegate tasks at home, and at work where you can. At home this could include asking your children or partner to help with the chores, or even hire a cleaner or a gardener etc if you don’t have help at home. At work this could be asking your colleagues or staff to help you with some of the tasks. If you are someone that prefers to maintain control and try and do everything yourself, you may find it useful to let go of this to allow other people to help you.
Start by implementing just one of these strategies today to start with, and gradually add some of the other strategies in to your daily routine, and start to notice the difference this makes in how you feel physically and mentally!
If you find yourself having difficulty managing your stress, you’re certainly not alone! And if you feel that you need some help in managing your stress, your certainly not alone in that either – we at Vitality Unleashed Psychology are helping people to manage their stress in more effective ways every day! And from this help, they find that managing their daily lives is so much easier, and they feel so much happier and full of life again back to doing the things they love. If you think you would benefit from some help in managing your stress, contact our highly experienced Clinical Psychologist, Ashley Gilmour today to discuss how we can help you get back on track of being stress free!
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