A little bit of stress is natural, even good for you, keeping you focussed and motivated as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
But when you feel stressed or anxious all the time, it can negatively affect every part of your life, from your dietary habits to exercise regime, your sleep pattern to your personal relationships. If stress is starting to eat away at your mental and physical health, it’s time to do something about it.
There are several ways to bring your stress levels back under control, in both the long and short term. Try following a few of the tips listed below, to bring calm and serenity back to your life.
We all know that exercise is good for us, but the benefits of engaging in some daily physical activity goes far beyond adding muscle mass and shedding excess fat.
Virtually any form of physical activity helps to relieve stress; you don’t have to take part in a rigorous gym session to feel the effects. Exercise releases powerful endorphins in the brain which bring feelings of contentment and relaxation. They also keep you focussed, enabling you to look past minor irritations and keep things in perspective.
A daily walk, swimming, biking, jogging, weightlifting, or even gardening or moderate housework will help you destress.
Eat a healthy diet
As with exercise, the physical health benefits of a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains are well documented, but the benefits for your mental health are just as powerful.
Perhaps the most important thing a healthy diet can do for you is give you plenty of energy, released slowly throughout the day. While sugary snacks and processed foods may give you a short sharp burst of energy, in the long term they will leave you feeling foggy and lethargic. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and wholegrains provide their energy over a long period, so you can stay focussed and alert, and able to tackle anything the day throws at you.
A healthy diet is also likely to boost your self-esteem, improving the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails, as well as shrinking your waistline. When we feel good about our appearance, we feel more confident, and therefore less stressed.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Stress can disrupt both the quantity and quality of the sleep you get, which only leaves you more stressed, trapping you in a vicious circle.
Lack of sleep leads to poor concentration, lower mood, irritability, and in serious long-term cases of insomnia, physical health troubles like heart disease and digestive problems, all of which, in turn, lead to stress.
If stress is dominating your life, try to ensure you get a restful night’s sleep. Keep a consistent bedtime, start a soothing nighttime routine, unplug electronics, play soothing music, or light scented candles. Turn your bedroom into an oasis, which no stressful thought can enter.
Keep physical ailments under control
Sometimes what’s causing us stress isn’t an external source – a demanding job, financial troubles, fractured relationships – but the health of our own body.
If you have a physical health condition which is causing you worry, do whatever you can to bring it under control. It may be a chronic condition, but that doesn’t mean you should have to put up with pain, discomfort, or uncertainty.
Switch to an online pharmacy so you can get any medication exactly when and where you need it. It saves you the hassle of a trip to the chemist, reassuring you that you have all the medicine you need to treat your condition. Whether it’s a 25mg/50mg/100mg Viagra pill or something else entirely, an online pharmacy is the place to start.
All British online pharmacists must meet the same high standards as physical pharmacies, so you get the same service, only much more convenient to you.
Playing music, writing a story, or painting a picture aren’t frivolous activities to engage in, they’re essential to our mental health.
Humans are creative beings who love to write, hum, doodle, dance, and sing whenever we get a spare moment. If you’re stressed about all the things you feel you should be doing, find a creative task to focus all your attention and energy on. Draw a picture, or colour one in. Start planning a story. Do some gardening or sewing. Play an instrument, or simply put on a catchy song and dance around your kitchen.
Doing any activity you enjoy and which engages the creative side of your brain will leave you feeling both relaxed and fulfilled.
Keep a journal
Keeping feelings of anger, sadness, or worry pent up will only make them stronger. Sharing them with someone you trust is the best way to get rid of them, but another way to release them is to pour them out on paper.
Journalling your thoughts and feelings, even and especially those you would not share with anyone else, is an effective way to release inner tension. Don’t think about what you write, or worry about spelling or grammar. No one else will read it. You can delete it afterwards, or save it to reflect on later. Either way, you will feel lighter for it.
Connect to others
When you feel stressed or irritable, your first instinct may be to withdraw from others, but reaching out to family, friends, colleagues, or any other trusted person is by far the best way to lighten the burden of stress.
Something as simple as a coffee break with a co-worker or chatting with a friend or sibling could provide you with the emotional support you need. They may provide you with helpful advice, or just give you a couple of hours break from your worries. Either could prove invaluable.
You could also consider volunteering with a charity if you have the time. You’ll meet new people, be able to focus on doing something worthwhile, and perhaps gain some much-needed perspective.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and while it certainly can’t cure all ailments, it can help reduce feelings of stress.
Even the very act of smiling and laughing can trick our brain into releasing endorphins, so do whatever you need to bring necessary levity into your life. Get in touch with funny friends, watch a comedy film or series, or even some funny YouTube videos.
It’s an easy way to lower your stress response, and we could all do with a good laugh.
If you’ve never tried meditation, you might have an image of someone sitting cross-legged on the floor not doing very much, but this would be inaccurate.
Deep breathing exercises, visualisation, guided meditation, and many other forms of meditation can be done anywhere at any time: on the bus to work, while you wait in a doctor’s office, or while you’re out for a walk.
Meditation is simply a way to centre yourself and sort through the jumble of your thoughts: ideal for someone suffering from anxiety. By focussing on your breathing, your body movements, or a single thought, you can bring a sense of peace and balance to your day, benefitting both your physical and mental wellbeing.
If stress is preventing you from living a happy, fulfilling life, or if other stress-relieving exercises aren’t working, it may be time to consider professional help.
A therapist or counsellor can offer you a safe space to talk through your worries, and will help to identify the sources of your stress, as well as any solutions and additional coping tools.
Stress is a part of life, but it need not be the thing that defines it.