Everyone deals with stress differently. You need to figure out a flexible set of coping strategies that work for you. Below are just a few proven stress relief techniques.
1. Eat well, feel great – There’s nothing wrong with the occasional brownie, but do your eally need to eat the whole pan? When stress hits it’s easy to turn to comfort foods for relief, but good nutrition helps to keep your body healthy and makes you feel better in the long run. If you follow the basics of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, you can’t go wrong.
2. Get into the groove – When you exercise, your body releases natural endorphins that help you feel energized. Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days. “Even the busiest people should try to make time for exercise. It might be as simple as going for a short walk during your lunch or coffee break at work,” says Benson
3. Catch some zees – Get between six and eight hours of sleep each night to renew yourself. “If you wake up tired, then you may not be getting enough sleep,” says Turton. Consult a doctor if you are sleeping more than 10 hours a day, because excessive sleep may be a sign of depression or other health problems.
4. Take five – Figure out what relaxes you. Try a few things until you hit on something that takes it down a notch. You might practice yoga, enjoy a hot bath, meditate, use positive self-visualization, go hiking, take a vacation, or simply do some deep breathing exercises before answering the phone at work. It’s important to make relaxation a part of your regular routine.
5. Let it go – Harbouring anger is unhealthy and increases the stress in your life. “Sometimes people carry around a lot of anger and hostility and become unhappy and unhealthy people,” says Benson. You may be angry at yourself, angry at others or angry at the world. The best thing you can do for your health is to forgive. Decide what you can control and what you can’t and let go of anger
6. Write it down – Regularly jot down your thoughts and experiences to help you better deal with the challenges of life. A journal can function as a confidant, a counsellor, a creative outlet or a sounding board. Document your successes as well as your challenges, so that you can measure your progress. “Sometimes we get so wrapped up in all the things we aren’t doing that we fail to recognize our accomplishments,” says Benson. A journal can help us to recognize and celebrate our successes.
7. Set goals – Unrealistic goals just add to your stress level. If you break challenges down into smaller components, they will be easier to overcome. First figure out what you want to achieve and then set smaller steps to help you accomplish the broader task. Set a time limit on the goal and then make sure you reward yourself when you complete it.
8. Get organized – Clutter creates stress and interferes with your inner harmony, not to mention making your stuff harder to find. Make your office or living space more pleasant and functional by finding a place for everything and keeping it there.
9. Get tickled – Make time for fun. Laughter is our body’s natural way to release stress. Rent a funny movie, read a funny book, try something new and fun or phone a friend who makes you laugh.
10. Make a list – Decide what is most important to you and use your energy and resources accordingly. Prioritize your tasks and learn to say no. If you decide that family relationships are the most important thing in your life, for example, make sure you devote time to building those relationships. If you lose sight of the important things, you’ll be stressed and lack the balance you’re trying to achieve in your life.
11. Develop a social circle – “Find someone to talk to and develop a support system by meeting people with similar interests,” advises Benson. You might attend a church, join a hobby group, volunteer, take a continuing education class, participate in a book club or become involved in some other organization.
12. Talk it up – Keeping communication lines open can stop conflicts and reduce stress. If you have an important deadline at work that is temporarily taking your time, be sure to explain to your family that it is a short-term obligation that’s keeping you away. Assure them that it doesn’t mean that you value them less and that you’ll be there when the crunch is over. Then follow through on your promise.
13. Ask for help – If you try these and other techniques and nothing seems to be helping improve your stress levels, you may need to seek professional help.
Achieving balance is all about the process. It’s important to realize that there is never a point when a person has achieved the perfect balance forevermore. Demands at home, in personal relationships and at work are constantly changing and you have to adjust to maintain harmony in your life. In the end, life is not about finding perfect balance, it is about striving to find it.
– Debbie Olsen