How to Reduce Stress: 4 Effective Strategies
X simple ways to reduce stress and anxiety, tips on reducing stress that really work, 15 mantras to reduce stress — if we had a nickel for every time we read these kinds of articles, we would have enough to pay for a lifetime’s worth of therapy.
Stress is a longstanding troublemaker. According to the American Psychological Association, stress affects one-third of the American population, with nearly half of the population believing that their stress levels will increase within the next five years. Between our personal lives, work, family, friends, and maintaining a social life, our sources of stress are seemingly infinite.
While we’d love nothing more than to be rid of stress forever, we all know that’s not going to happen. Stress is a part of our lives, and we have to accept that. But that doesn’t mean we should give up trying to reduce its effect on us.
How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety the Right Way
Stress creates a vicious cycle of physical and mental effects.
When you’re stressed, it triggers a biological effect that, over time, overcomes the body’s natural response to stressful situations. This effect causes significant hormonal changes and gives rise to unexpecting health issues. As a result, when you become weak, sick, irritable, or experience any other stress symptoms, it can bring about even more stress. Thus, the cycle continues.
Stress can make you physically and mentally sick, which over time, will impact your overall stability. But, in order to take care of your mental health, you must first learn where your stress comes from.
Learning Where Stress Comes From
There’s no setlist regarding your stress sources. While a traffic jam might upset you more than the next person, this doesn’t mean it’s your only source of stress.
When determining your sources of stress, dig deep into what triggers your stress response. Familiar stress sources such as financial problems, work problems, personal relationships, parenting, and so forth, are real sources. However, you must search within yourself to find exactly how these things bring you stress. There is always a root cause that pushes you to be more stressed. If you want to reduce your stress, focus on eliminating the root cause.
Let’s say, for example, you’re worried about financial problems. According to the financial firm John Hancock, their survey states that 69 percent of professionals are stressed over their finances. However, finance is a large field, so how do you decide where your stress comes from?
Ask yourself, what exactly are you worried about? Are you not earning enough? Is it from not saving money or having small savings? If you are financially unsatisfied, is it affecting your quality of life or personal goals? If it’s the former option, how is it affecting your quality of life? Could making small changes in your lifestyle reduce your financial stressors? Are your finances holding you back by not allowing you to meet your objective? Could switching fields or getting a small freelance job on the side take care of that? These are all questions you can ask yourself while searching for the root cause.
When it comes to stress, the best thing you can do is get to the root of the problem. In many cases, the stress we feel comes from the expectations and limits we set for ourselves or are set by society. Whether it’s managing your time to finish projects within deadlines, making new friends, maintaining a social life, or cooking a new meal — there’s always a solution to your stress; you just have to open your eyes to it.
How to Stress Less
There are plenty of short-term strategies that can reduce stress, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, maintaining your sleep schedule, as well as maintaining a positive outlook on life. But, keep in mind, these will only give you so much. If you genuinely want to learn how to reduce stress from work, personal problems, or financial problems, be willing to open yourself up by:
- Understanding self-care
- Creating a welcoming environment at home
- Acknowledging signs of stress
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Self-care is more than just lighting candles, listening to Enya, and taking a bubble bath.
Self-care means self-love. It promotes the understanding that you love yourself as much as you deserve. We are often our worst critics. We all have that cynical voice in the back of our heads. Self-care pushes that voice away and encourages you to understand your human-ness.
We also try to make ourselves as super as possible, but we can only do so much. Start by meditating to release some of that tension you have. Allow yourself to understand just how tired you are. Feel the stress in your shoulders, your neck, your lower back, and release it. Hug yourself. Lie back in bed in the morning and look out the window, take in the sights, even if it’s just a tree or the clouds. Give yourself time to just be.
Creating a Welcoming Environment at Home
Home is where the heart is. But if your heart is just not into it, that may have to change.
The environment you spend the most time in can have a massive impact on you, according to UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain. So, when at home, don’t settle for the bare walls, a small couch, an almost-empty fridge, or boxes for tables.
Make your home your own, even if you’re renting it. Add photos from home, add colors and lights, jerseys, posters, and pictures of your favorite things. Remove all clutter from the house because that can also create unnecessary stress. Brighten up the place and add some foliage for a pop of color. Your home should be your Eden, so take the time to make it yours. You want to feel happy and comforted when you step through your door. Cultivate a source of joy to counteract any source of stress.
Acknowledging Signs of Stress
When someone is stressed, they often feel sick, tired, foggy, and numb most of the time. You’re likely irritable and hate having to do anything. You may even be depressed, and you know your stress is the leading cause. Yet, why do you continue with your routine?
Avoiding the problem will not relieve you of your stress, and neither will it make you super-efficient in life. Sooner or later, you will feel the impact of these symptoms on your health, but ignoring your health so you can deal with these stressors is never the answer. If you feel sick and unhealthy, worrying about stress will only make you feel worse.
Whatever the stressor may be, your primary focus should always be on yourself. Acknowledge that something is wrong and allow yourself the time you need to feel better. Once you’re feeling better you can continue to search for the cause of your stress.
Going to Therapy
As stated before, getting to the bottom of your stress can help you move on. When you can’t figure it out on your own, a professional therapist is an ideal person who can help you get to the root cause.
Therapy doesn’t involve only speaking about your feelings, though. Therapy involves multiple mental exercises that allow you to understand your psyche in depth. It will help you understand your flaws and strengths, how you’ve come to be at this stage in life, and all that you have achieved. Therapy can help you become the best version of yourself. And that’s something everyone should know.
It’s understandable if you’re feeling reluctant about therapy. Not many people are comfortable opening up to a stranger. In that case, start small. Take the time to speak to a dear friend or a parent or relative. Talk your heart out and find a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, even a nice rant can be good therapy. But, when you feel you’re ready, find a professional you can depend upon.
Stress manifests in various ways. If you feel any physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms develop, make an appointment with your doctor. As said above, stress can have numerous physical and emotional effects.
Remember, stress can make you feel terrible. But controlling its impact will significantly help you in reducing and hopefully overcoming its effects!