When stressed, individuals become mentally and emotionally overwhelmed quite easily. Although individuals can quickly experience the effects of stress on their mental well-being, their physical health is also at risk. Some stress is normal, but chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease and other serious health complications. Regardless of the stressor, it is critical for everyone to try managing rising stress to protect their current and future health. The following highly effective methods will help everyone unwind and promote a more positive state of mind.
Have you ever had someone tell you to take a deep breath when overwhelmed or upset? Well, this advice can go a long way. Breathing in deeply 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 practicing deep breathing, 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 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 disease and depression. When it comes to negative emotions, music can uplift most individuals' spirits or relax their mind, 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 individuals listen to music that plays at a frequency of around five hertz, as it allows their brain to synchronize with delta brainwaves. Researchers at Stanford University have confirmed music is a great relaxation tool based on its effects, as well as its availability.
Becoming more physically active is, of course, beneficial for everyone's overall health as it promotes both mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown 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. Ideas for regular exercise activities include brisk walking, jogging, yoga, and even heading to the gym and using traditional equipment. Individuals should choose an exercise fitting their interests for the best results.
Meditation yields a vast and impressive history, benefiting millions around the globe. Research has shown meditation can, in fact, improve mental and emotional health, reducing an individual's risk of prolonged stress and symptoms of depression. Not only does meditating teach individuals how to gain greater control over their body and mind, but it also promotes mindfulness.
When individuals become more mindful, they are better able to identify and recognize unhealthy thought patterns. They can pinpoint what it is causing them to feel stressed, especially if it has internalized feelings and thoughts. This process helps individuals become more conscious and aware of their experiences, thus changing their overall perspective on life. Mindfulness is a state of mind that encourages individuals to live in the moment, instead of stressing about the past or future.
Nothing is more encouraging than feelings of gratitude as individuals focus on the positive aspects of life. Feeling thankful for life can have immense positive value regarding their overall well-being. Gratitude can help individuals detach themselves from stress, since their focus is shifted to 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 put things into perspective, ensuring you only stress out when it is relevant and necessary to do so. Scientific research has supported this notion time and time again, as gratitude significantly impacts mental health.
Guided imagery encourages the use of one's imagination to picture something or someone that makes them feel relaxed. Perhaps you went on a beach holiday with family, and it was a time of great pleasure and relaxation.
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 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 entirely immerse yourself in the scene you picture.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This method teaches patients how to relax their muscles based on a two-step process. If you find you are often stressed, take fifteen minutes a day to practice this method. For those who are always stressed or experience persistent feelings of anxiety, this exercise can also help them recognize what it feels like to be relaxed.
The first step in this process is to intentionally tense up specific muscles, such as the shoulder muscles. The next step is to release that tension then, understanding how the 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 stressors.
Remember A Past Success
More often than not, we are incredibly hard on ourselves, but it is important to give ourselves some credit. If you are overly stressed out about something, try to focus on the big picture. If 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 and remember to encourage yourself. Positive self-talk, emphasizing past successes can help reduce feelings of stress and negative emotions.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
If you are prone to stress, there are certain habits you can eliminate to improve your mental health instantly. Some individuals are naturally more anxious than others, and certain habits reduce one's 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. Many use unhealthy habits such as smoking as coping mechanisms. However, they can often 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.
Talk It Out
Sometimes all someone really needs is for someone else to listen to them. When feeling overwhelmed, a supportive voice can help you calm down and assure you 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. For instance, if you are overly stressed out about work, meet up with a friend.
Speak about the challenges you are facing, and they can help 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 everything will be okay.
Take A Look At The Big Picture
One of the ways to reduce stress is to take a look at the big picture. A situation that seems overwhelming now may not be worth the amount of stress and anxiety you're expending on it. Ask yourself: "Will I or anyone else remember this in five years?" If the answer is no, then there's no need to be totally stressed about it now. If the answer is yes, ask yourself other questions. "How many people does this affect? Does it have a lasting negative impact?" "How much control do I have over the situation? What can I do to solve it? If I can't do anything, why am I worrying about it?" Many of the day-to-day stresses we face aren't actually serious enough to have a lasting impact on either ourselves or others. Rather than focusing exclusively on the anxiety, take a look at the broader picture. You can also take some time to focus on things unrelated to the stress.
Break Down Tasks Further
In many cases, stress occurs because you feel overwhelmed. You may feel as though you don't know how to get from point A to point Z. One example would be looking at a messy room that needs a lot of cleaning. When you think about the total mess, you may become totally stressed out because you don't know how to approach the magnitude. This is when it's helpful to break down tasks further. Sit down with a pad of paper or a blank online document. Write down the task or tasks you need to complete and then break them into smaller, more easily-accomplished chunks. This gives you a step-by-step plan for how to complete the task. It also keeps you from being overwhelmed because you can do the project bit by bit in manageable pieces, rather than trying to tackle it all at once. In addition, you'll get a sense of satisfaction when crossing items off the to-do list. It helps you appreciate the amount of work you've done, instead of being stressed over how much is left to do.
Be Sure To Prioritize
When dealing with stress related to your to-do list, one of the most helpful things you can do is learn to prioritize. As with breaking tasks down, use a physical sheet of paper or word document to plan. Write down everything you need or want to do. Depending on the amount that needs doing, you might want to sort the tasks into categories, such as work, school, household chores, and personal. Then sort the tasks by priority. The highest-priority ones are the ones with the closest due dates or anything overdue. Follow it up with items of medium and low priority. Having this physical list is extremely helpful because it works as a guide for productivity. You start with the highest-priority tasks, then when those are completed, move on to the others. This will keep you from missing deadlines and becoming overwhelmed. For large projects with multiple steps, break them down as mentioned previously. Then assign each part of the project a manageable due date, and put these tasks into the priority list.
Take Time To Relax
In today's modern world, we often receive messages telling us we have to be working at all times. If we're not literally at work or in school, we need to work on household chores, taking care of our families, and other activities that drain energy. But humans aren't actually built to function with constant busy work and productivity without breaks. We need to take time to relax. Not only is relaxation essential for mental health, but it's vital to our physical health as well. Relaxing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for everything unrelated to fight-or-flight. When we relax, our blood pressure lowers, and the levels of the stress hormone cortisol become lower in our blood. Relaxation gives us time to reconnect with the world. It's a chance to feel good and remind ourselves of what we enjoy, what positive elements we have in our life, and what our body needs.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
Researchers have found it's possible to reduce stress if you maintain a healthy diet, as dietary changes can help lessen the physical effects of stress on the body. Stress raises an individual's overall blood pressure and causes problems with blood flow. It can also have an impact on someone's ability to get to sleep, their quality of sleep, and the amount of time they sleep. Sleep deprivation then leads to more stress in a vicious cycle. But certain nutrients can counteract the effects that stress has by improving blood flow and sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve blood flow, as can dark chocolate, blueberries, vitamin E, and the polyphenols in red wine. There are also certain compounds found in plants like peppers and green leafy vegetables that lower stress. In addition, researchers have found a link between brain health and digestive health. Eating a diet rich in fiber and nutrients while avoiding foods you have an intolerance to will improve your digestion, which can, in turn, improve your mood and cognitive function.