The question “How to deal with stress?” began to concern people relatively recently. Hans Selye first started studying stress in 1936 and devoted most of his life to this. One of the conclusions, derived from his work, was that stress itself is not bad, because it is the body’s reaction, which helps it survive.
In modern life, we face stress almost daily. That is why every modern person should have at least several tools in his arsenal in order to independently deal with stress and to get rid of its consequences.
I want to share with you 10 tips that work for me personally!
GO FOR A WALK (EVEN IF JUST FOR 10 MINUTES)
My favorite daily habit. Walking increases endorphin levels and decreases stress hormones. It has been shown that brisk walking activates the nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for relaxation, and allows you to manage stress quickly.
MARIA’S TIP: Think of a way to add a daily walk to your schedule – park your car away from the office (you will probably save on parking costs, too!), choose a new supermarket that is not directly across the street, and introduce a new rule for walking (instead hangouts) with friends on weekends.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
When we are stressed, we often miss out on sleep. Unfortunately, this rule works both ways – when we sleep poorly, it is a source of great stress for our body. In sleep, it is not just the quantity, but the quality that is important. There are many different techniques to improve the quality of your sleep, and the most important rule here is to follow circadian rhythm and introduce a number of bedtime rituals, which exclude stimulation of the nervous system (telephone, TV, bright light).
MARIA’S TIP: Try going to bed no later than 10.00 pm during the week, after a hot shower, self-oil massage, or reading a book before sleep.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
Music has almost magical power; it can distract and relax us. If you feel slightly “on edge,” try playing classical or relaxing music (such as sounds of the ocean), which helps lower cortisol levels in blood. You can go for a quick walk with your headphones on, or turn on a familiar song in the car and sing it out loud.
MARIA’S TIP: Play some rhythmic music to set the tone to your daily walk or trip to the supermarket (see above).
CALL A FRIEND
I have started calling my friends and family via video more and more often. What about you?
Recent research unanimously agrees that social contact and communication are absolutely crucial to maintaining our mental and physical health. This problem is especially relevant now that the pandemic is preventing some of us from seeing friends and hugging family as often as we would like.
When you are under stress, it is difficult to remain objective. A good friend will help you take a detached view of your problem and calm you down. I like to think that friends are the family we choose. I am forever grateful for my friends and the opportunity to share problems and joys with them. Even though I cannot hug some of them right now, I can see and hear their voices thanks to the phone and video communication.
MARIA’S TIP: Plan your conversations with friends the same way you plan everything else – set aside regular time for your conversation in advance, which is convenient for both parties.
Deep breathing is not a myth. When we take a deep breath, our blood saturates with oxygen better and when we exhale, more carbon dioxide is released. Studies show that carbon dioxide can increase inflammation processes in the body, which is why it is so important to remove it and saturate the blood with oxygen. When you are nervous, your breathing tends to be quick and intermittent. Try to close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths, preferably in the fresh air.
MARIA’S TIP: Regularly monitor your breathing – when you are sitting at your workplace, walking, or doing household chores – how do you breathe? If you notice that your breathing has become more frequent, take 5 deep breaths and exhalations.
EAT NUTRITIOUS FOODS
When we are stressed, we often make impulsive choices, including those related to food. Instead of going for alcohol or sweets (which will be followed by an inevitable spike in cortisol and further exacerbate your stressful state), ask yourself the question – why should your body and health be paying for your momentary weakness?
MARIA’S TIP: when you want to deal with stress with a glass of wine or a piece of cake, try to negotiate with yourself that you will only do it if it was planned a day, or better two, before. Teach yourself not to follow spontaneous cries of the brain for such relaxation methods.
WORKOUT (EVEN IN FOR 2 MINUTES).
Of course, it is better to set aside time regularly (2-3 times a week) for physical activity. However, the general rule here is “something is better than nothing”.
MARIA’S TIP: If you sit at your desk all day, take a fast-paced walking break (as if you’re late), do some stretches, or go up and down some stairs a few times (swinging your arms intensely). Amazed glances of colleagues are guaranteed. so is a good mood!
SUBSTITUTE COFFEE WITH TEA.
Caffeine abuse leads to a spike in cortisol, artificial stimulation of the nervous system and insomnia. A healthy alternative to coffee can be matcha or tea (caffeine in them works in a different way), as well as a drink made from chicory. Quitting caffeine temporarily can greatly help you deal with stress.
MARIA’S TIP: If you drink several cups a day, try replacing one of them with a cup of tea or chicory. Then replace another one. You can keep your favorite ceremonial cup of coffee in the morning, but you cannot drink it “in a hurry”! If you manage to make this work, you will have your favorite morning ritual as opposed to mindlessly pouring liters of caffeine into yourself. And guess what? Research shows rituals are great for managing stress.
DAILY GRATITUDE JOURNAL.
Scientists proved that feeling of gratitude helps to deal with stress and can instantly improve the gut microflora, which, in turn, has the most direct effect on brain activity (in most cases, cortisol is reduced by 23%).
MARIA’S TIP: Take a piece of paper and write three things that you are grateful for today – you can start with being able to sleep in a warm bed, having a roof over your head, work, health, or other things. Pay attention to how you feel after doing this.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR THOUGHTS ON PAPER.
When we write down our thoughts on paper, it allows us to switch our attention for a while and look at our experiences from the outside. When you look at your own writing, it can help to be a little more objective than if these thoughts are spinning in your head and you with them.
MARIA’S TIP: Write down three thoughts that bother you. Looking at them, try to answer yourself the question: “Is this a fact, or is it all in my head?” Example of a fact: Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. If you stop any stranger, he will answer this question just like that. As a rule, out of all the thoughts we have about ourselves, only 2% are facts, and the rest is our speculation.
All of these tips look simple enough, but they will not work unless you follow them.
How do you personally deal with stress?
I help my clients to work with thoughts and remove what is not fact. 98% of our thoughts work against us and prevent us from achieving our potential.
If you want to learn how to work with your mindset and notice those thoughts that hinder your development throughout your life, I will gladly help you with the help of my programme, specifically designed to filter negative thoughts.
I look forward to our consultation!