- Why stress is helpful sometimes up to a certain level?
- 10 proven ways to destress yourself
Research actually shows that some amount of stress is helpful to human beings. Biologically, being stressed helps you prepare for flight or fight, that innate instinct that has kept our species alive through the harshest periods of the world. In modern times, stress allows for us to worry about the consequences and make necessary preparations, both of which are likely to yield better results.
But, most of us would be hard pressed to remember the last time being stressed about something actually helped us out. That’s because our stress levels usually cross the productive levels to becoming completely overwhelming, such that our abilities and resources to deal with the situation become distant memories as we struggle to deal with the physical, emotional and mental pains of stress. Stress not only reduces our ability to solve problems effectively, it can also suck away at our health and happiness, leaving us vulnerable to numerous physical and mental problems such as anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and even heart diseases. So, here are some proven methods to help you destress whenever you feel overwhelmed –
- Deep Breathing – Breathing exercises are often the very first suggestion for stressed people, and for good reason. Simple deep breathing, inflating the abdomen, and then release the breath slowly after a short pause can do wonders. Breathing deeply helps infuse the body with oxygen, calms it down, and helps you defocus from the problem. Consider a mental and physical reboot of sorts, one that can quickly and easily deflect stress and help you come up with a productive plan for dealing with the problem. However, exercise caution in this practice if you have respiratory problems.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Often combined with breathing exercises, this practice signals the body to relax, reducing stress. This technique requires some learning and practice, but once you get the hang of it, it can be used virtually anywhere. Begin from the bottom of your body, and tense up the muscles of one of your legs for a few seconds, and then gently release. Practice the same muscle group for a few counts before moving on to the next set, all the way up to your head. The physical movements combined with the mental effort help induce relaxation and distraction, which in turn reduce stress.
- Prayer – It may not work well for the atheists, but religious and spiritual individuals can find a lot of comfort in either chanting a short prayer or talking openly to the deity or power that they believe in. Praying helps individuals put their problems into perspective, reflect on them, and gives them the hope that the greater forces will intervene and solve their problems. Praying can also become a productive way of actively combatting the source of stress – in the process of wishing for a particular outcome, you may realize ways of bringing that solution about.
- Physical Exercise – If you are living a high stress life, physical exercise can make a critical difference in your well being. Exercising means putting out time for yourself, which in itself is very beneficial. Alongside this, exercising releases endorphins or feel-good hormones, and boosts your immunity too. Considering that both happiness and immunity are often compromised in stressful situations, you may have stronger resilience to the negative consequences of stress when you exercise regularly. While it may not be possible for you to hit the gym daily, do incorporate walks and stretches into your daily routine.
- Guided Imagery – It may be a little escapist, but guided imagery can certainly help in those stressful situations where you cannot physically leave, and where even a few moments of peace can help restore your energy and focus. Simply get as physically comfortable as you can, close your eyes and imagine some peaceful scene. It could be a beach, a forest, or a long road trip on a rainy day. If you struggle in creating things in your head, you can always rely on your memories or some videos and images from the internet to help you relax.
- Eliminating Sources of Stress – Of course, it is not that easy to simply cut off what is stressful for you, because you will soon find your life completely empty. Work, home, relationships, all of the things inherent to life also have inherent stresses. But if there are some things that you can control, and which are much more stressful than they are worth, it may be better to live with the pains and problems of letting them go than to hold onto so much stress. A very poor working environment, a college major that leaves you panicking and crying every night, or a relationship that makes you worried about your looks or actions all the time, are simply not worth the stress they cause you every day, especially when there would definitely be much better options out there.
- Develop Hobbies – Stress often builds or comes from, a huge backlog of work that you must get through. In such situations, free time and hobbies are the first to go, but this can just create more stress and lead to a complete breakdown. Indeed, in stressful times, it becomes even more critical to give time to the things you love, as this can help you relax and deal with your problems better. If the hobby is physical, you get the added benefits of exercise as noted above, but even leisure activities like reading, watching movies or spending time with loved ones can help a lot.
- Reduce Intake of Caffeine – You may think that your daily fix or tea of coffee helps you power through the stressful times, but they may be exacerbating the problem. Consuming a high amount of caffeine, especially in coffee (which tends to have a greater concentration of the stimulant), can lead to anxiety and symptoms such as a racing heart and jitteriness. Thus, you may be further damaging your mind and body, and decreasing your capability to deal with stress. Coffee and tea can be very beneficial, but only if taken in moderation. So resist the urge to gulp them down in gallons the next time you feel stressed out.
- Maintain and Develop Sleep Hygiene – Stress and sleep are closely connected – the more stressed you are, the less you sleep, the less sleep you have, the more stressed you are likely to be, and the poorer your coping with stress will be. Getting a good shut-eye may be the hardest thing to do during times of stress, but creating good sleeping practices, such sleeping at a regular time, avoiding caffeine or heavy meals before bed, or reading or meditating before hitting the hay can help you grab those precious Zs, and leave you well-rested in the morning to tackle your problems.
- Work On Your Procrastination – Sometimes our stress comes from our own habits, such as letting our work pile up. Making realistic deadlines, keeping a to-do list that helps you remember all your tasks, seeking help when needed, proper prioritizing of work, and dropping some projects are a few ways that you can overcome procrastination and move towards a less stressful life.
While stress can feel very overwhelming or like a constant weight pressing down on you, there are many simple ways in which you can tackle them. Your ultimate goal, however, should be to inculcate lifestyle practices that can make your life less stressful.