You arrive at work on Monday morning to find a huge pile of work waiting for you.
You receive an un-expected bill and realize you don’t have enough money to cover it.
Your partner is sick and unable to help around the house with the kids, pets, and housework.
You’re late for an important appointment and the traffic is in gridlock.
Does any of the above statements sound familiar to you?
We all experience some stress on a daily basis, from small amounts to the incredibly difficult to handle. It can be from internal struggles, to things around us, or external issues we have no control over.
Having some unexpected news or events happen can stop us in our tracks. Our minds start spinning, our heart rates speed up, and we start thinking about all the different possibilities. It’s stressful.
It doesn’t always have to be an unexpected event however. Some people struggle day-to-day with confidence issues, relationship problems, ongoing financial issues, having too much to do each day, all these things keep the stress level rising.
We live in a culture that provides us with an overwhelming amount of data each day. Social media, society, news outlets, it all adds to the amount of stress we’re dealing with.
We need to make money, we want lots of luxury items to make our lives easier, we want our relationships to be perfect, we want to progress in our careers, we want to develop ourselves personally, we want to be happy, the list goes on and on.
If we feel like we are not getting closer to these ideals, even though we are tirelessly trying, we can become overwhelmed, stressed, and start to despair. Our natural instinct is to start working harder, putting in more hours, and making more sacrifices.
But this is not the right approach. This will only compound our problems and lead to more stress. Usually you will hit a wall and stop, ask yourself what’s going wrong, then repeat the process. Most people feel like they don’t have any other options, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We generally associate negative events with stress, but this isn’t always the case. Even in the happiest situations, people can feel the pressure of stress. Think about what stressful, but happy events you’ve had. Marriage, holidays, moving home, changing job?
Any life changing event can put you under stress, compound that with some other problems at the same time and you have a cocktail for over-reaction. Stress has a horrible way of escalating on it’s own too, stress is a cause of stress.
Some people are much more easily effected by stressful situations than others, we all probably know someone who is blissfully unaware or unaffected by stress. Typically, Type-A personality types tend to be more effected by stress than Type-B personalities.
Type-A’s a more competitive, self-driven, self-critical, and tightly wound. They have a more inherent sense of urgency about everything to do, over-reacting, and more freely expressing hostility when in a stressful situation.
Studies have shown that men and women both handle stress differently too, partially to do with hormones, but don’t start using that as an excuse just yet! Women are more prone to internalize stress, making them more susceptible to depression.
Women do however, have more social support networks and speak more freely about the issue, which is the main reason why women cope better with stress than men do, generally speaking.
Stress if often referred to as the ‘hidden killer’. This is because it’s not visible, although people will often show the effects and symptoms of being stressed. Stress can take a heavy toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being.
When you are feeling stressed your body releases hormones that create a ‘fight or flight’ mentality. You’ll feel your muscles becoming tighter, your heart rate will speed up, and you’ll breathe faster. Chronic prolonged stress will lead to a wide range of symptoms that can become potentially fatal, you’ll experience any of the following:
- Stomach pains
- Chest pains
- Aches and pains all over
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Loss of sex drive
- Mood changes
- Angry outbursts
- Memory issues
- Bad habits
- Irregular sleeping habits
- Dependency on alcohol or drugs
Whether you get stress occasionally, or suffer from long-term chronic stress. It’s important for your current and future well-being that you find ways to manage your stress. You need to find a technique that works for you, to relieve the symptoms, and start changing the way you feel.
Here are 10 great stress relieving tips, some have worked for me and others for people I know. Take a read and see how you can implement these into your life:
Practice Breathing Techniques
As mentioned earlier, when you are in a stressful situation you will breathe quicker. By controlling and regulating your breathing you can regain control of your emotions. Having the self-awareness to stop, and learn proper breathing will provide instant relief in some cases.
You need to breathe from deep in your diaphragm. As you take in a deep breath you’ll notice your stomach expanding. This is making room for the air, concentrate as you take in a deep breath, and then slowly breathe out as your diaphragm contracts.
Try and take 4 second breaths. Count to 4 in your head as your breathing in, then as you’re breathing out. Repeat a few times until you feel your body relaxing and picking up a calm, and normal pattern of breathing.
Address the Cause of Stress
This is easier said than done in a lot of cases, but can you address what is causing you stress at the exact moment? If you’re late for an appointment can you send a quick message and push back the time 10 minutes?
If you’re involved in an argument with someone can you walk away, let the situation calm down, and then return? If you’re over worked, can you delegate or ask for help, even if it means repaying the favour when you have some spare time?
You may find that a lot of situations are nowhere near as bad as it seems at the time. There are often ways to lessen the stress if you take time to think about it.
If you don’t already exercise, now is the time to start. Exercise is one of the best stress reducers there is. When you exercise you produce endorphin’s, a chemical that stimulates your brain’s positive and happy reactions.
Even a short 30 minute workout of brisk walking or light aerobics makes the world of difference. You will notice you are able to think clearer, you feel better, and the stress is nowhere near as bad.
Learn to Accept Some Things
A lot of chronic stress is a result of people continually disagreeing or feeling unhappy about something out of their control. If a family member is behaving in a way that’s stressing you out, you will have to learn to accept it if you can’t change it.
Control is a grip that’s hard to break, but when you do it feels great. Learn to accept that which is out of your control, release yourself of the burden.
Maintain Good Sleeping Habits
Depriving yourself of sleep is a fast-track way to become stressed. When you’re tired you do not think logically, and you increase your risk of illness. You will get angry much quicker than you usually would, and are more prone to depression.
If you’re stressed you will be finding it more difficult to sleep, which is why you need some good sleep habits. It’s worth taking time to work on this, sleep is incredibly important. Eliminate any external influences that are making it more difficult for you to sleep.
I have covered the benefits of meditation before, and there are many. Relieving stress is one of the benefits. It’s not just hearsay either, there are dozens of scientific papers to prove that meditation lowers blood pressure, increases your brains production of endorphin’s, and has a positive, calming effect.
The figures are staggering, with a reported 87% less hospitalizations for heart conditions for people who meditate. 55% less malignant and benign tumors, and 30% have less reported infectious disease. It’s hard to ignore these kind of statistics, certainly something to think about.
Lean on Your Support System
This one cannot be stressed enough. Having a loving, supportive network of people in your life that you can rely on is a powerful thing. Just being around good people each day can have a positive effect on your mood, psychological well-being, and spiritual well-being.
As mentioned earlier, women usually have a better network of people in their support system. They tend to form strong emotional connections with friends, and have people to rely on in times of need.
If you are feeling alone and don’t feel like you have a network of friends to help when you’re down, you can work on it. Start socializing and meeting new people with similar interests, be yourself, and you’ll meet new people and make friends.
Disconnect from the Grid
In the modern day climate of electronic devices, it feels like we are never disconnected. We have emails, notifications, texts, and more pinging in at all times of day and night. We either feel compelled to respond as soon as possible, or just can’t beat the curiosity.
The best thing you can do when feeling stressed is take time out each day. Disconnect all your devices, you’ll start to realize there isn’t anything you can catch up on after. Personally I don’t check any mails first thing in the morning, till after I have eaten and taken care of a few things.
Don’t over Complicate Things
A lot of things we do become more complex over time. By taking a look at some of the things we do, and the processes involved, there is often scope to simplify things. See if there are areas where you can pull things back to basics.
Make a list of all the things you do each day on a piece of paper. Take a look and see if there are some things you can eliminate from your day. Try and schedule a peaceful walk into your evenings, or maybe a weekly meal with a friend.
Don’t Put off Seeking Treatment
There is a lot of help available for stress. From medical help through your family doctor, to self-help techniques like you find here, to support groups and other programs. You shouldn’t try managing everything on your own, it’s only compounding the problem.
Stress can lead on to a range of more serious conditions as outlined above, some of which can be incredibly difficult to undo. So don’t wait any longer, if you feeling stressed seek help – in any way you feel will work best for you.
The key takeaway here is that stress will start to rule your life, if you don’t start to rule it. Your mental and physical well-being is at risk, so start taking action.
These 10 stress relieving tips are just a handful of the best techniques available. Find out what’s working for you and build on it.
If you have beaten and manage stress on an ongoing basis I’d love to hear about It, leave a message below.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.