When you are stressed, you easily become mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. Although you quickly experience the effects of stress on your mental well-being, your physical health is also at risk. Some stress is normal. However, chronic stress levels can increase your risk of heart disease and other serious health complications. Regardless of your personal stressor, it is critical that you try to manage rising stress levels to protect your current and future health. The following highly effective methods will help you unwind and promote a more positive state of mind.
10. Deep Breathing
Have you ever had someone told you to ‘take a deep breath’ when you have been overwhelmed or upset? Well, that advice can go a long way. When you breathe in deeply, it may seem unnatural at first, but once you feel the actual benefits, you will be more conscious of the way you breathe within your day-to-day life.
When you practice deep breathing, you can focus on a calmer state of mind – as you distract yourself from overwhelming thoughts and sensations. Sit in a quiet area and practice the following: Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, allowing both your stomach and chest to rise. Once your stomach is fully expanded, breathe out through your mouth, just as slowly as you did when you were breathing in.
Music has been shown throughout the scientific literature to be beneficial for a broad range of health issues, including Alzheimer’s and depression. When it comes to negative emotions, music can uplift your spirits or relax your mind – this is because music can influence brainwaves.
Your delta brainwaves, for instance, are what help you relax, increasing your ability to fall asleep. This is why many people listen to music that plays at a frequency of around 5 hertz – allowing their brain to synchronize with delta brainwaves. Researchers at Stanford University have confirmed that music is a great relaxation tool based on its effects, as well as its availability.
Becoming more physically active is, of course, beneficial for your overall health in that you promote both your mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce mental fatigue, improving concentration and focus.
As you exercise, your body naturally releases endorphins, which make you feel good – as they are primarily natural painkillers. When you actively take part in low to moderate intensity exercise, you can reduce tension, improve sleep, and stabilize your mood.
Meditation yields a vast and impressive history, benefiting millions around the globe. Research has shown that meditation can, in fact, improve mental and emotional health, reducing one’s risk of prolonged stress and symptoms of depression. Not only does meditating teach you how to gain greater control over your body and mind, but it promotes mindfulness.
When you become more mindful, you are able to identify and recognize unhealthy thought patterns. You will be able to pinpoint what it is that causes you to feel stressed, especially if it has internalized feelings and thoughts. This process helps you become more conscious and aware of your experiences, changing your overall perspective. Mindfulness is a state of mind that encourages you to live in the moment, instead of stressing about the past or future.
6. Practice Gratitude
Nothing is more encouraging than feelings of gratitude – as you focus on the positive aspects of your life. When you are thankful for the life you live, it has immense positive value regarding your overall well-being. If you are stressed out, gratitude can help you detach yourself from feelings of stress, as you focus on positive experiences.
If you are someone who consistently finds themselves in a negative cycle, continuously becoming stuck in a negative mindset, gratitude is a way out. It helps you to put things into perspective, ensuring that you only stress out when it is relevant and necessary to do so. Scientific research supports this notion time and time again, as gratitude significantly impacts mental health.
5. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery encourages you to use your imagination to picture something or someone that makes you feel relaxed. Perhaps you went on a beach holiday with your family, and it was a time that brought you great pleasure and relaxation. If so, picture a positive memory, such as this example, utilizing all of your senses.
What did you smell? What did you see? What could you hear? When you focus on imagery, utilizing all your senses, you create a powerful and relaxing experience. Although some are skeptical, numerous studies have confirmed the association between imagery and positive health. Within guided imagery, the ultimate goal is to immerse yourself in the scene you picture entirely.
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This method teaches you how to relax your muscles, based on a two-step process. If you find that you are often stressed, take 15 minutes a day to practice this method. For those that are always stressed or experience persistent feelings of anxiety, this exercise can also help you recognize what it feels like to be relaxed.
The first step in this process is to intentionally tense up specific muscles, such as your shoulder muscles. The next step is to release that tension then, understanding how your muscles feel once relaxed. When you practice this process daily, after two to three weeks, you will be able to recognize when you are tensing up. You can then ‘cue’ this relaxation technique, helping reduce overall tension. This process will also help you become more mindful of your stressors.
3. Remember a Past Success
More often than not, we are incredibly hard on ourselves – give yourself a little credit. If you are overly stressed out about something, try to focus on the big picture. If you are overwhelmed, remember a time when you completed a challenging and stressful task. Remind yourself, ‘you can do this, you can overcome this situation.’
This can help you re-energize, focus, and practice self-compassion. The truth is, no one can beat you down and make you feel more stressed than yourself. Do not be your worst enemy – encourage yourself. Positive self-talk, emphasizing past successes can help reduce feelings of stress and negative emotions.
2. Avoid Unhealthy Habits
If you are prone to stress, there are certain habits in which you can eliminate to improve your mental health instantly. Some individuals are naturally more anxious than others and certain habits, reduce your ability to achieve a calmer, more positive state of mind.
Sometimes the best methods involve the elimination of old habits before newer, more positive habits can be implemented. Do you drink excessively and smoke? Many use these two habits as a coping mechanism. However, they make matters worse. Some other destructive habits to avoid include sleeping too much, becoming angry when stressed, avoiding your problems, and bingeing on low-nutrient foods.
1. Talk It Out
Sometimes all you need is for someone to listen. When you are overwhelmed, a supportive voice can help you calm down and assure you that everything will be fine. Supportive, positive relationships are essential for your overall well-being, allowing you to feel as though you are cared for and have someone to rely on. If you are overly stressed out about work, for instance, meet up with a friend or loved one.
Speak about the challenges you are facing and they will help you put things into perspective. When you surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind, you cannot go wrong. If no one is around, talk to yourself. Sometimes all you need is to slow your thoughts down, prioritize tasks, and assure yourself that everything will be okay.