January is the traditional month for New Year's resolutions, but if you want to improve your overall well-being, any time is a good time to consider how best to reduce your stress.
Are you one of those people who consistently say you’re too busy when asked how you are? If so, chances are, you are also feeling frazzled and stressed.
When this happens, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Stress not only affects you mentally, it also affects you physically as well. It can be a feeling of mental exhaustion and grumpiness to having terrible headaches.
If it gets worse, this can even develop into worse things such as hypertension, diabetes and even depression and anxiety.
So if you want to improve your overall well-being, now is a good time to consider how to reduce the stress you’re feeling.
Take a look at these tips and see how you can beat stress effectively.
1. Learn to prioritise
If you’re juggling too many things, especially in terms of work commitments, you need to figure out what matters more. This will make creating your action plan to finish your tasks much easier.
In the same way, when you have too much going on in your life – activities, events, and the like – you need to know which matters more to you. This will help you eliminate the things that don’t add value to your life so that you can spend more time doing things that make you happier.
2. Take more exercise
Rev up your energy by doing some physical exertion! When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, or hormones that make you happy. This hormone improves moods, increases pleasure, and minimises pain. This is the reason why regular exercise contributes to reducing stress.
It doesn’t even have to be anything strenuous; you can start with something as simple as taking a walk around your neighbourhood to feel some positive effects.
3. Find more 'me' time
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time you take some time for yourself. Tune out the rest of the world. Turn off all your devices and just focus on yourself.
Once you give yourself this time, you’ll be able to clear out your mind, refocus and be refreshed, helping to drain out the stress that has accumulated in you.
4. Do something enjoyable
To relieve yourself of stress, it’s important that you indulge in doing something that will give you pleasure.
Whether it’s curling up with a good book or picking up a hobby such as gardening or cycling, doing things that you enjoy will help you relax and improve your well-being.
5. Always stay positive
In stressful situations, it’s easy to feel a lot of negativity. This could come in the form of anger, incessant critiquing of people around you, or even allowing toxic people to be around you.
So if you want to get rid of this kind of stress, it is essential to stay positive. It will be hard to release those happiness-inducing endorphins when negativity abounds.
In order to do this, keep positive people around you, let go of grudges, and even temper your expectations and be more accepting of what is going on around you.
In the same way, you need to keep an attitude of gratitude. To reduce your stress level, it is best to appreciate what you have instead of focusing on the negative aspects that are getting you down.
6. Identify stress triggers
When dealing with any problem, it is important to get to the root of the problem. In this case, you need to identify your stressor.
Is it your personal attitude? Your boss? Financial problems? Too much work? Whatever it is, once you’ve figured out what is causing your stress, it will be easier for you to find a solution and get a handle on the problem.
7. Ask for help
Sometimes, there’s really just too much on your plate for you to handle. In cases like this, there is no shame in asking for help.
For instance, you may be taking on too many projects at work without your boss realising it. Sounding out the alert may get your boss to reallocate resources, which will help to lighten your load.
8. Create a plan
It is easy to feel overwhelmed with everything we need to do if everything is jumbled up in our brain.
When you organise what you need to do, you can create an action plan that you can look at and stick to. Striking things out on your to do list not only keeps you organised, it will give you a sense of accomplishment as well, helping to reduce the stress you’re feeling.
9. Watch your diet
Your nutrition and stress go hand in hand – if you eat healthily, you are likely to feel less stressed.
For instance, eating sugary, processed food or excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol can have a domino effect on hormonal imbalance leading to stress. Food that have been shown to do so include fast food, sugar, and meat. Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and energy drinks contain neuro-stimulators that have been proven to heighten stress.
So if you want to reduce stress, take the healthier route, like fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and yogurt. Eating these will help to resolve hormonal imbalance, making you more even-keeled and stress-free.
You can also consider a meal plan that will give you a bigger meal in the morning, followed by a light lunch and dinner with healthy snacks in between.
10. Get more sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, your stress hormone level increases.
Conversely, getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you tackle your problems more easily. When you don’t get enough rest, you are likely to wake up feeling grumpy and irritable, making you feel more agitated and stressed.
11. Drink more water
It may sound simple but drinking a glass of water can greatly help to destress you. This is because all our bodily organs, including our brain, needs water to function. When you are dehydrated, it will increase your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
When you’re stressed, physical manifestations include headaches, increased fatigue and nausea. Making sure you’re adequately hydrated means you can reduce the physiological effects of stress.
12. Share a laugh
Sometimes, the best cure for stress is simply being able to laugh. Not only does it have short-term effects such as mentally lightening your load, it can actually cause physical changes to your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when you laugh, you are breathing in more oxygen-rich air that stimulates organs such as your hearts, lungs and muscles. It also increases your endorphin levels. Laughing also soothes tension by stimulating your blood circulation and relaxing your muscles.
More than that, it can improve your mood, relieve pain and improve your immune system. So go watch that latest comedy show, or find time to be with your close friends and family to share a few laughs.
13. Broaden your horizons
Apart from allowing you to get away from your problems even for a short while, travelling has other benefits that aid in stress relief.
You can get fresh air and sunshine, which gives you more energy and improves your mood. You also get freedom from your everyday routine to do the things that you enjoy. You can see the beauty of life and explore new things, which can take your mind off the things that are stressing you out.
And if you don't have the time or the means to travel, what then? Read a book in the garden, or take a drive in the car. A change of scenery isn't defined by mileage - it's more about how you feel, rather than where you are.
14. Enjoy a massage
Massages have been proven to have a myriad of benefits. Not only does it help you unwind, it is also a great way to get stress relief by decreasing your stress hormone (cortisol) levels and reduce pain and muscular tension.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress, getting regular massages will go a long way towards relieving it. If so, it’s a great idea to have a massage chair at home, such as OSIM’s uLove.
This way, you can enjoy therapeutic and relaxing massages in the comfort of your home, at your own convenience. You and the rest of your family members will be able to share the benefits of regular massages on your health and well-being.
When you come home, you can devote about 15 minutes of your day on the massage chair, listening to music, and just relaxing.
15. Take a breath
When you feel yourself getting too stressed, take deep breaths. You may not be aware of it, but in stressful situations, we tend to take short, shallow breaths or even unconsciously hold our breath altogether.
By taking deep, slow breaths, you are actually resetting your stress response. This is because your relaxation nerve is activated with every deep breath.
Breathing deeply actually sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Symptoms that you get when stressed, such as increased heart rate and high blood pressure will decrease with deep breathing.
You can also try doing some meditation to restore your calm and clear away your stress.
You may not be able to control what kind of stress will enter your life, but you can control how it affects you. With these tips, start living a stress-free life now.