Introduction – The Significance And Prevalence of Stress
Sadly, the modern lifestyle and global affairs lead to prolonged and damaging stress in several individuals. Therefore, the agenda of this month is to promote ways to manage stress and anxiety to protect us from the ill effects of chronic stress.
The Adverse Impact Of Stress On Your Body
When we are subjected to any form of stress, our nervous system is activated, and our body releases stress hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol, to manage stress and anxiety. These hormones spike the blood sugar and heart rate and help the body handle stressful situations. However, in the case of prolonged stress, these hormones can adversely impact the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Hence, not only does chronic stress cause poor mental health, it can lead to physiological conditions too. These ill-effects of stress may initially show up as the following symptoms.
- Disturbed sleep cycles
- Frequent headaches
- Lack of appetite
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Poor concentration
- Feeling of loneliness or withdrawal
- Constant irritability
These symptoms can further lead to depression, alcohol dependence, and physiological issues. Moreover, due to consistently high levels of cortisol and adrenalin, prolonged stress increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. Therefore, figuring out ways of coping with stress becomes crucial in today’s world that is full of potential stressors.
Hence, this Stress Awareness Month, let us try to identify the early symptoms of stress and make positive lifestyle changes to prevent chronic stress.
12 Ways Of Coping With Stress In Your Everyday Life
In today’s day and age, it is far-fetched to hope for a completely stress-free lifestyle. Hence, knowing how to cope with stress has become an essential life skill. This stress awareness month, the focus is on healthy strategies to deal with stress. Here are 12 stress management techniques that you should try.
1. Jot Down What Stresses You
One of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety is to write down everything you are feeling. This activity is therapeutic and lifts the weight of your emotions off your chest. Moreover, putting down what stresses you in words may give you a better perspective or ideas on coping with the situation. Maintaining a daily journal of your thoughts will help you understand what bothers you regularly. This will allow you to identify your key stressors, to figure out ways to cope with them. Also, don’t forget to write down what you are grateful for that day. This will make you feel more positive too!
2. Spend More Time Outdoors
Studies have proven that Vitamin D intake can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D through a supplement but nothing beats good old sunshine. Also, spending some time outdoors every day gives you fresh air and interaction with nature, which is extremely therapeutic. If you opt for an outdoor activity such as walking, running, or gardening, it will serve as exercise too. Any form of exercise will release endorphins or feel-good hormones in your system. Hence, outdoor exercise is one of the best ways to tackle stress and anxiety.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Many individuals fall back on caffeine or alcohol to manage depression or anxiety. While these substances may give you a short-term high, they can worsen your mental health in the long run. Furthermore, coffee and alcohol dehydrate the body and may cause headaches too. Replace these drinks with water, coconut water, or green tea to keep your body energized and hydrated. Eat more fruits and salads to boost your vitamin intake and stay energetic all day long. If you cannot give up coffee or alcohol completely, try to reduce their consumption to see positive results.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Studies have established the link between poor sleep and stress. It was found that inadequate sleep leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. This is because sleep is the time when your body restores and repairs itself for the next day. Hence, getting enough sleep every night is crucial to your physical and mental well-being. This becomes even more important when you are dealing with a stressful situation. So, try to follow a sleep routine and stay away from devices and distractions right before your bedtime. If you have trouble falling asleep, listen to calming music, or take an aromatic bath before bed.
5. Indulge In Relaxing Activities
Aromatherapy, meditation, and swimming are some relaxing ways of coping with stress. You could also choose any other activity that calms your mind, be it reading or gardening, but try to stay away from screens. This hour of relaxation should act like downtime for the part of your brain that is stressed. The idea is to take your body out of fight and flight mode into a state of complete relaxation. This will help take your mind off things that are bothering you and lower your stress hormone levels.
6. Make Time For Your Hobbies
More often than not, we are stressed because we do not enjoy our daily routine. Hence, one of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety is to make time for your hobbies. Bear in mind that the agenda here is not to ace a skill with regular practice, but to simply enjoy the activity. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by stress, play your favorite instrument for 5 minutes or draw a quick sketch. The idea is to intersperse your week with activities that give you fulfillment. This will reduce your discontentment with your life and will reduce stress too!
7. Laugh More Often
According to studies, laughter is an effective medication for mental disorders. So, try to laugh and smile more often, even if you have to force it sometimes. To enable this, watch funny movies, hang out with joyful people, and read humorous books. You can even join a laughter club if you find one in your vicinity. With time, your mind will get tuned to be happier, and you will find yourself laughing more frequently. This will encourage a positive mindset and will help you crush your stress and anxiety. Your stressors will not seem so stressful if you brave them with a smile!
8. Let Go Of What You Cannot Change
One of the simplest ways of coping with stress is to stop stressing over what you cannot change. If you shorten the list of things that stress you out, you will be less stressed every day. Sure, the environment is deteriorating day by day and it is something to be worried about. But if you are doing your bit already by reducing and recycling your waste, still stressing over it is not going to achieve anything. So, if it is a problem you can solve, go ahead and solve it. Otherwise, accept it and move on.
9. Follow A Routine
An excellent way to manage depression and stress is to follow the same routine every day. Stress is often caused by fear of the unknown or of making decisions. So, make your day as predictable and structured as possible. Chalk out a meal plan at the beginning of the week. Go to bed at the same time every day. Keep an hour aside for exercise too. Also, leave an hour free to deal with any unexpected work or home emergencies. The more you plan your day in advance, the more stress-free and smoother it will be.
10. Take Regular Vacations
Another agenda of Stress Awareness Month is to encourage a healthy work-life balance. Our generation is overworked and under-rested, thanks to the hustle culture. While hustling may help you achieve your short-term goals faster, it may leave you burnt-out and depressed in the long run. Instead, focus on a routine where you can give ample time to work, leisure, and family.
Also, don’t feel guilty to go on a vacation a few times a year. Our mind and body need downtime too and perform better after a break. So, head out to a scenic destination to manage depression or anxiety better!
11. Reach Out To Your Loved Ones
If you are unable to find ways of coping with stress on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to your loved ones. Your friends and family members can lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Also, they might be able to offer solutions to help you deal with your stress better. Moreover, speaking up about your feelings will help you feel lighter too. Remember, you are not supposed to tackle all the battles of your life on your own. Your inner circle is always there to help you!
12. Seek Professional Help If Needed
This stress awareness month, let us normalize seeking professional help for stress and anxiety, just as we do for physical disorders. If your stress is chronic and manifests itself as mental and physical issues, seek help from a professional immediately. A trained mental health professional can recommend you the best lifestyle changes and medication to curb the ill effects of stress. Whether you are suffering from depression or severe anxiety, professional treatment is the best approach to restore your mental health. So, the earlier you seek professional intervention, the better.
Remember, the one size fits all approach does not apply to mental health. So, you may have to try a combination of these techniques to find out the best way to manage depression or stress as per your lifestyle.
Mental disorders are a global concern in these stressful times, and taking action to protect our mental health is the need of the hour. Whether it is financial stress, worry about the future, or the daily grind, the modern lifestyle is posing severe health risks for all individuals. Hence, this stress awareness month, let us all take time to help ourselves and those around us who are struggling with chronic stress.
We all need to incorporate healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety in our everyday routines. This includes journaling our feelings, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and indulging in calming activities.
Also, it is crucial to break the taboo around seeking professional help to manage depression. Normalizing mental health issues and encouraging treatment and conversations around them is the first step in the right direction. The daily hustle can leave us mentally drained, but these healthy ways to handle anxiety can protect us from the damaging effects of stress.