According to the American Psychological Association, three in four adults reported increased stress levels in 2022. Moreover, the same survey discovered that 27% of people feel so stressed that they can’t function most days.
But the thing about stress is not just that it makes us feel bad. Scientific evidence has shown time and again that stress is a silent killer.
According to WebMD, stress can cause severe health issues. These include headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. It can also cause unwanted behavioral changes (like alcohol misuse, overeating, social withdrawal, etc.).
So, if you’re exploring ways to invest in your physical and mental well-being, you must find ways to effectively manage stress — especially when dealing with stressful events at work or home. So, without further ado, here are the top six methods to manage your stress levels and avoid the negative consequences of chronic stress exposure.
Meditation and Breathwork
According to science, practicing meditation for approximately thirty minutes per day for eight weeks could help significantly reduce stress and help the brain deal with stressors more effectively. Moreover, breathing exercises, like the physiological sigh, can instantly alleviate stress and anxiety. And the best part about this breathing strategy is that it can help in a matter of minutes, thanks to its helpfulness in regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body.
If you’re interested in meditation and breathwork as a stress-management strategy, give yourself an attainable goal to work toward. That’s especially important if you lead a busy life. Remember: two or five minutes every day is better than thirty minutes once a week. So, don’t hesitate to keep the sessions short if that’s what helps you incorporate the practices into your daily routine.
Another super-effective way to manage stress is to partake in a physical activity of your choice.
Yoga, for example, is well-known for its stress-reducing effects when practiced regularly. In fact, one scientific study found that all it takes for depression, anxiety, and stress levels to decrease significantly is to go to 12 sessions of regular hatha yoga practice.
However, if you don’t enjoy yoga, you can get similarly positive results through cardio exercise or strength training. So make sure you make the most of the opportunities to move your body. Whether that’s by cycling to work, taking a romantic sunset walk (which will also improve your sleep quality), or joining a pilates class where you can get your sweat on and possibly make some new friends.
You can’t eat your stress away. (In fact, dealing with your feelings of being overwhelmed by eating is a great way to harm your physical and emotional well-being.) Nonetheless, paying attention to what you eat can empower your body to handle stressful situations more effectively.
If you’re interested in improving your diet for the sake of helping your body manage stress better, focus on eating whole, natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Moreover, do your best to increase your protein intake (as stress boosts the body’s demand for the macronutrient). Finally, enrich your diet with as many Omega-3 and antioxidant-rich foods like fatty fish, walnuts, berries, etc.
Prioritize Healthy Sleep
According to the APA, 21% of adults who don’t get enough sleep feel more stress than their peers who regularly sleep for at least 8 hours a night. With this in mind, you need to invest in your sleep hygiene. This will help you give your body and mind the restorative rest they require to better handle everyday stressors.
If restful sleep doesn’t come easy to you, it’s best to start making incremental improvements to your daily routine. Going to bed at the same time every night is a great start. So is picking up the habit of avoiding blue light at least two hours before bed. And, if you’re willing to take a more proactive approach to boost your sleep quality, you might want to spend 10 to 30 minutes in natural sunlight every morning, as this has been shown to effectively regulate the circadian rhythm.
This stress-management tactic may not be everyone’s first choice. But, it’s important to note that in some (extreme) cases, the best way to start managing stress — especially chronic stress that has already led to negative physical and emotional consequences — is to experiment with supplementation.
Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, Magnesium, Omega 3, and Vitamin D can all support the body when dealing with increased stress levels. So can more potent substances like CBD. So, if nothing else is working for you right now, it’s not a bad idea to consult your primary physician about finding the smallest effective dosage for your needs.
However, remember that supplementation shouldn’t be a long-form method of stress management. While it can help, it’s not enough on its own. So look at it more like a quick fix that will help you feel well enough to develop healthy stress-management habits that will deliver genuine improvements.
One more thing you should note when it comes to supplements and stress management is that there are a couple of ingredients you should avoid when going through a stressful period — namely caffeine and alcohol.
Finally, as you explore strategies for managing stress on a day-to-day basis, you must understand that doing so effectively could require you to make severe changes to your lifestyle. And that’s difficult work.
Still, one great way to go about the process of learning how to manage stress is by starting to prioritize self-care. Whether that means giving yourself more relaxation time, seeing a therapist, spending more time with friends, or allowing yourself to get away from everyone and be by yourself every once in a while is entirely up to you. But know that giving yourself the space and understanding you need to make positive changes always makes the first step towards feeling good in your skin.
There you have it, some of the best stress-management techniques you can implement straight away.
At the end of the day, when dealing with stress, you must remember that it comes with severe health consequences. And, when left unchecked, it can even cause irreversible damage. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to teach your body to deal with stress, so why not do everything you can to help yourself feel better, even when having a bit too much on your plate?
This guest post was authored by Sarah Kaminski
Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.
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