Stress is something that all of us probably experience more of than we would like to in our lives. Luckily, though, there are a lot of little ways to manage stress that can help you to cope with it in during your day-to-day existence. I'm guessing that you're also probably at least somewhat aware that stress isn't exactly good for your health, but it turns out that how you manage your stress could actually be more important than the amount of stress you have, according to a recent study conducted by researchers from Penn State and Columbia University. The more you know, right?
We took a closer look at this study a few days ago, but to recap, 909 participants had their emotional and physical reactions to stressed monitored by the researchers over the course of eight days. The researchers discovered that those with a high heart rate variability, which is an indicator of how your heart is regulating itself, were better at managing stress, rather than simply having less stress, as they originally postulated.
Thus, managing your stress is likely going to be your ticket to a healthy heart — not trying to get rid of all the stressors in your life altogether. The good news is that yes, stress management can be simple to practice in your daily life (and doesn't need to involve a two week retreat to Bali). These 11 little ways to manage stress can help you to better function with the stress that you do have in your life, so that you don't fall prey to the same pitfalls that the participants of the study did.
1. Take Breaks
Instead of chaining yourself to your desk until you finish an assignment, take breaks to stretch, eat, or engage in an activity that you enjoy. If you're worried about wasting time, you'll actually be more productive if you allow yourself to take regular breaks. You might even think about building them into your schedule so that you actually take them.
2. Take Deep Breaths
If you find yourself in a frenzy of panic, stop, drop, and breathe deeply. It might seem cliche, but it really works.
3. Plan Out Your Days
If you find yourself feeling stressed about how much you have to do, try to structure your day according to a schedule, so that you have laid out what you have to do, when you are going to do it, and how it's going to get done.
4. Always Be Prepared
If you tend to get anxious before important meetings, presentations, or functions, The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends a being prepared and gives a few pointers on how best to do so. First, picture the event in your head and try to envision what you are going to do or say. Along with this visualization, keep a positive attitude and have a backup plan ready to go in case things go awry, which they often do.
5. Understand Your Triggers
If we want to be able to manage our anxiety, we have to understand how it works. Step one is identifying your common stress triggers, which are those things that will almost always cause a wave of anxiety to hit you every time they come knocking. These triggers could be anything from your job to your family or your romantic relationships. Journaling about your stressors can also be a helpful way to better understand your triggers, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
6. Hit The Gym
The research around the benefits of exercise in relieving anxiety is growing and growing, so listen to science and move your body at least a few times a week. It'll not only help you stay fit, but also to help you manage your stress
7. Positive Self-Talk
Negative self-talk increases your stress levels, even though it can be incredibly easy to slip into this behavior when things aren't going your way. Instead, try to reframe the issue from a positive perspective to help you to ease your level of stress.
Even if you're not feeling pleased, smiling can actually help you to feel better when you're stressed. The emotional sensors in our brains are connected to our physical bodies, which is why this trick works.
9. Talk It Out
Talking to someone you trust is a great way to work through your stress. If you find that conversations with your friends or loved ones aren't doing it for you. though, you might want to look into going to a counselor or therapist. If you've never been, it's not nearly as scary as you might think — it's like having a completely unbiased but absolutely qualified third party to help you navigate your life.
10. Eat Healthy
It might seem like an obvious tip, but so many of us eat on the go, since our busy lives don't always allow us to make home cooked meals. If you find yourself having good intentions to eat well, but falling short on time or preparation, try to practice meal prepping at the beginning of each week.
11. Have Sex
Seriously, sex is a great stress reliever! Sex therapist Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D., told Reader's Digest that because sex increases your levels of endorphins so greatly, it's one of the best "total-body relaxers" out there. The next time you find yourself in panic mode, hit pause and get in between the sheets.
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