The biggest part of stress relief is learning to control your thoughts, emotions and take charge of your lifestyle. How? Go to our top 10 tips that psychological research has shown to help reduce stress in the short- and long-term and can help to enjoy life again! Try these simple tricks to help manage stress and get more joy out of life:
1. Get enough sleep – Too little or bad quality sleep can have some serious consequences. Not only does it affect your physical health, but lack of sleep can also contribute to overall anxiety and stress. In addition it can turn into a vicious cycle, since anxiety often leads to disruptions in sleep. Especially when feeling stressed, try to schedule a full seven to nine hours of snooze time and see what a few nights of good sleep can do for your stress levels throughout the day.
2. Exercise – When you start to feel anxious or stressed, exercise is one of the best medicines. Exercise has a positive impact on disease and overall health, but exercise has also reliably been shown to boost your energy and mood. The higher the intensity of the workout, the more you will benefit!
3. Eat well – Foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges, lemons and grapefruits, may help lower your stress hormones. Omega-3s, like those found in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds also have a calming effect. In general, fuelling your body well with a balanced diet can help your body to better handle stress. Part of eating well means focusing on getting whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Fancy something sweet? Dark chocolate has a calming effect and eating chocolate in general makes you feel good 😉
4. Breathe Deeply – breathing mindfully is a powerful stress fighter. It helps you to lower stress hormones, lower your heart rate and bring down your blood pressure
It is super simple:
- Sit quietly with one hand on your stomach, the other on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs completely with air.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth until all the air has escaped.
- Repeat several times (at least 5x).
5. Disconnect – Disconnecting is one of the most important things on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself (electronically) from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available 24/7 exposes you to a constant flow of stressors, preventing you from refocusing and recharging. If you cannot avoid handling work e-mails and calls entirely in the weekend, try designating specific times (maximum of one hour per day!). Scheduling short blocks of time will reduce stress without sacrificing availability.
6. Connect with your own spirituality – Spirituality can help relieve stress, probably because it encourages you to feel a sense of purpose and connection to others. You can tap your spiritual side by doing something to help others, volunteering for a cause that means something to you, reading an inspirational story, practising mindfulness, meditating, praying etc. The goal is to do something at least once each day that inspires self-reflection.
7. Say no – People pleasing is a one way ticket to stress because guess what? You can’t please all the people all the time! Give yourself permission to say no. If you’re worried that people won’t like you as much for saying no – think again. People will probably like and respect you more if you are honest with them instead of over-committing yourself and having to cancel things at the last minute. Work on considering the best ways to say no. Think about your personal boundaries and the situation at hand. When saying no, do so in a polite way that makes your boundaries clear. Also very important, work on avoiding guilt after saying no. You always have a right to turn down an invitation or refuse a favour. It’s okay to make yourself and your mental health a priority.
8. Laugh – Laughter is the best medicine! Laughing out loud increases oxygen and blood flow which automatically reduces stress. Not taking life too seriously can help everyone live a better and easier life. Is there a funny meme or YouTube clip that always makes you laugh? When it comes to stress, laughter is a powerful way to change your state of mind. Next time you feel stressed by a situation, try to see the humour it. By reframing the circumstance, you loosen the hold a stressful situation has on you.
9. Positive Thinking – The positive thinkingthat usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. Sometimes we just think too much and our overthinking mind leads us to the worst-case scenario… To beat the stress this causes, we need to avoid that kind of doom-and-gloom thinking. Positive thinking can give you more confidence, improve your mood, and even reduce the likelihood of developing conditions such as hypertension, depression and other stress-related disorders. Next time you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Slowly shift to better-feeling thoughts — you’ll probably feel a tangible sense of relief.
And does this sound too simple, then maybe the following tricks can help:
- Start the day with positive affirmation –Talk to yourself in the mirror, even if you feel silly, with statements like, “Today will be a good day” or “I’m going to be awesome today.” You’ll be amazed how much your day improves.
- Focus on the good things, however small – When you encounter an obstacle during your day, focus on the benefits, no matter how slight or unimportant they seem.
- Find humour in bad situations – Allow yourself to experience humour in even the most trying situations. Remind yourself that this situation will probably make for a good story later and try to crack a joke about it.
- Turn failures into lessons – Instead of focusing on how you failed, think about what you’re going to do next time
- Transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk – Negative self-talk can creep up easily and is often hard to notice. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, ´I’m so bad at this´ becomes ´Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this´. ´I shouldn’t have tried´ becomes ´That didn’t work out as planned—maybe next time´.
- Focus on the present – Most sources of negativity stem from a memory of a recent event or the exaggerated imagination of a potential future event. Stay in the present moment.
- Surround yourself by positive people
10. Give someone a hug – Hugs are good stress relievers. Getting a good squeeze before going into a stressful situation can help you relax and calm down a bit. The hug could even help you stay calm, cool, and collected during the event. The reason for this is that when we hug or kiss a loved one, our oxytocin levels go up. This powerful hormone is often called “the bonding hormone”, because it promotes attachment in relationships, including between mothers and their new born babies. And the more the better! If you feel weird about hugging your colleagues at work, save those hugs for friends and family 😉