6 Ways to Stress Less

6 Ways to Stress Less

If this blog post title interests you then you are in good company.  Stress is very common. Stress can make you more likely to get cold or flu symptoms.  Chronic stress can increase your risk of developing depression or coronary heart disease.  We also know that stress simply doesn’t feel good.  It can make us irritable, interfere with good sleep, and lead to emotional overeating.

Here is the good news.  There are many evidence-based ways to manage stress.  In this blog post I will give you some tips for six things you can do to feel better and regain control over stress.

Check out the options to see what would be best for you.

  • Mindfulness training can help you learn to focus on the present so you can let go of being caught up in worries.  Here is a link to some simple mindfulness exercises that you can start to do today.  If you practice for 10 to 20 minutes per day, for four weeks, you will see real improvement in your ability to manage stress.  SmilingMind is a great mindfulness app.
  • Schedule “technology-free” time.  Do you reach for your phone first thing when you wake up in the morning?  Are you checking for emails or messages “just one more time” when you know it’s time to sleep?  If your phone is always on, then your nervous system never has a chance to fully relax.   You can regain control.   Try this mindfulness exercise.
  • Walk out of doors in nature.  Research has shown that there are tremendous benefits to walking where you can see trees and feel the grass under your feet.  Is there even a small park near you where you could sit or walk at lunch time?  Maybe, once a week, you could plan to do a one hour walk in a big park or at the edge of your city or town.  Here is a fun video about the topic of going outside.
  • Visit with family and friends.  When we have a chance to spend time with people who know us well and care about us stress has less sting in it.  The benefits of connecting with others is greatest when we can be in the same room with them.  Texting helps us stay connected as well but no app  can take the place of getting or giving a hug.
  • Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).   PMR combines breathing with muscle relaxation to help you calm your mind and body.  Here is a great place to start with guided PMR instructions.
  • Teach yourself to sleep better.  As a rule of thumb you should be able to sleep about 85% of the time you are in bed.  To improve your sleep here are some things you can try: reduce or eliminate caffeine, avoid naps, increase physical activity during the day, quiet your mind by avoiding screens before bed.  Here is a great video on Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia.

I hope that some of the tips mentioned here can be helpful for you.  I suggest that you start with the one approach that seems most interesting or practical for you.  If you try any of these techniques for a few weeks you should start to notice real improvement in your ability to manage stress.  Good luck.