Stress is an inevitable part of life, excessive doses can have harmful implications. In fact, according to Healthline, stress can increase headaches and migraines, insomnia, depression, high blood sugar, heart attack and overall weaken your immune system. Despite these facts, 74% of people in the UK feel so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation and YouGov). So how do we stress no more? In this blog post, we’ll explore ten top tips on how to reduce stress in order to prevent illness and improve your mental and physical well-being.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for managing stress. By focusing on the present moment, you can train your mind to let go of worries about the future or regrets about the past. Try practising mindfulness meditation for just a few minutes each day and notice the difference it makes in your stress levels. An easy way to practice mindfulness is to check in with yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In the midst of the struggle, find five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. By engaging with your senses you’ll centre your mind back in the present moment and feel more grounded.
Related Reading: The Benefits of Keeping a Wellness Journal
Exercise is an excellent stress reliever. It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s yoga, running, or dancing, and make it a regular part of your routine. When you’re feeling especially stressed or triggered, try going for a run or long walk, put on your favourite playlist or podcast (if you haven’t already, check out The Ponder Box podcast) and you’ll soon start to feel the tension release from your body and those happy hormones flooding in.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress levels, making it harder to cope with daily challenges. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help your body and mind recharge. Apps such as Headspace contain great sound casts and relaxing music to help you settle in for a good night’s sleep. Other tips for helping you to relax before bed include having a nice clean room with fresh bedding, tuning in to only low-stimulation movies/programmes, and spraying lavender oil on your pillows. Explore different ideas to find what works for you!
Eat a Balanced Diet
A healthy, balanced diet can help to reduce stress levels by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to support your physical and mental well-being. When we eat well, we’ll stress no more, because our body has the right vitamins and nutrients to function effectively. Processed foods, while okay in moderation, tend to exacerbate stress when we really don’t need any more adding to our plate!
Connect with Others
Social support is essential for managing stress. Spend time with friends and family members who make you feel good, and seek out new social connections through clubs, hobbies, or volunteering. If your social circle is small, try apps that encourage friendship-making or one’s where you can find like-minded people doing hobbies you already enjoy. You might also find it good for your social wellness to join your local gym and start a new exercise class or a local walking group.
Self-care is an important part of managing stress. Take time to do things that you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk. Prioritize your own needs and make time for yourself each day. Always try to opt for self-care practices that give you longer-lasting benefits, e.g. avoid instant gratification. Ask yourself, will this make me feel better or worse after I’ve done it? Remember that self-care isn’t selfish and it’s a crucial step to stressing no more.
Learn to Say “No”
Overcommitting yourself can lead to burnout and increased stress levels. Learn to say “no” to requests that you can’t fulfil, and prioritize your own needs and commitments. Remember, clear is kind. While sometimes saying ‘no’ might feel selfish or rude, by being clear on your needs and wants, you’re giving the other person the information they need to take care of themselves, too.
Gratitude can help to shift your perspective and reduce stress levels. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for, whether it’s a supportive friend or a beautiful sunset. Gratitude journals are a great way to build up a daily practice of gratitude and help you to shift your mindset to positive thinking.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling to manage stress on your own, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist or counsellor can provide you with tools and strategies for coping with stress and improving your mental health. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It would be much easier to sit in sorrow and sadness, especially if you’re used to feeling that way than to reach out of your comfort zone and ask for a helping hand.
Finally, remember to take breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s a quick walk around the block or a few minutes of deep breathing, taking breaks can help to reduce stress levels and improve focus and productivity.
Stress no more by incorporating these ten top tips into your daily routine. With a little effort and mindfulness, you can reduce the impact of stress on your life and live a happier, healthier, and more balanced life.