With so much going on in life—projects at work, spending time with friends and family, daily errands, etc.—it’s easy to get swept up in everything and feel like you’re running on empty. Stress comes in many forms, and can pile up to make you feel overwhelmed, tired and frustrated.
When you feel stressed out, it’s easy to get derailed from your plan. Part of your wellness journey is to find alternatives so you can focus on creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself overall, which means monitoring your emotional health and how it impacts your physical health. As the saying goes, life is tough, but so are you. Even though there will be many stressful situations throughout the day, there are many positive ways to monitor and manage your stress levels. Curb the negative effects of stress with these creative stress management activities.
1. Get Moving
The National Institute of Mental Health suggests getting regular exercise and movement to cope with stress, even if it’s just walking for 30 minutes every day. Physical activity releases brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, which triggers happy feelings to lessen stress, ward off anxiety and can even reduce pain. Feeling extra stressed out by a deadline at work? Even stretching with some yoga poses for 10 minutes can relieve muscle tension.
2. Pursue a Passion Project
Finding something you’re passionate about can easily turn into a hobby. If you like painting, take an art class. If you enjoy learning about history, find a biography to read. Once you find something that ignites your curiosity or gets you excited, you’ll make time to incorporate that passion into your life. A few other stress management activity ideas include writing a poem, volunteering, or redecorating your home.
3. Say “no” More Often
Committing to too many things throughout the week can cause stress. If you have too many social events one week, reschedule one for the week after. You may be able to apply this at work, too—sometimes “no” just means that you should shift around priority projects, or communicate your needs to your coworkers to assure them that you’ll get to the task when you can. This technique may help relieve you of certain unnecessary work-related stressors in your daily life!
4. Step Away From Your Cell Phone
Smartphones have let us stay connected with our loved ones through multiple social media apps. Sometimes it’s just nice to step away from your phone to have some time to disconnect and focus on yourself and the people immediately around you.
5. Make Lists of Tasks & Events—and Cross Items Off
Lists are great tools to prioritize tasks and events for the week, and you can check off each item as it’s completed. You can also make lists of your goals for the next year or a list of your favorite movies, songs, books or inspirational quotes that you can turn to when you need a little pick-me-up.
6. Get A Good Night Sleep
Did you know that if you are tired, you are more easily agitated as well as less patient? If you are tired because of lack of sleep, it may increase stress or make it harder to deal with stress throughout the day. For adults, it is recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep at night in order to feel rested for the day1. Getting proper sleep is one way to help deal with stress as you are well-rested and better equipped to handle the stressors that materialize2.
7. Spend Time With Your Pet
With their friendly faces and lovable demeanor, pets offer a wealth of therapeutic traits that can reduce levels of stress hormones3. If you’re dealing with a particularly stressful day, take your dog for a short 10-minute walk. Seeing your pup appreciate the walk and enjoying the little things will help you come back with a refreshed perspective and may help provide some stress relief.
8. Deep Breathing
Another way to combat stress is to engage in deep breathing. Deep breathing helps to activate your body’s natural relaxation response which in turn helps to lower your blood pressure, slow your breathing, increase your levels of nitric oxide, and decreases your metabolism 4. When you are feeling stressed, perform abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes to act as a stress reliever and bring yourself into relaxation mode.
9. Avoid unrealistic and negative expectations
Life has many unexpected twists and turns so you can’t always expect everything to go as planned. But don’t doubt yourself either! Stay positive (because you can do it), go with the flow, be flexible and lean on your family and friends for support. We know that life can throw many curve balls. However, frequently checking in with yourself, finding healthy ways to take care of yourself, keeping a positive perspective during stressful times, and utilizing these stress management tips can help you stay balanced and resilient.
Putting yourself and your needs first can allow you to curb your stress and anxiety and feel successful and confident in your wellness journey! Keep an eye out for more ways to combat stress, and feel free to discuss stress reduction strategies with your Jenny Craig consultant.