Many adults are finding that being a “grown-up” is just a perpetual state of stress. There are things to do, tasks to tackle, relationships to cultivate, careers to consider, and even children to rear. Life can be full of stress.
Stress is a biological signal that something is required of us, so it can be helpful in moving us to action and indicating potential problems. But more often than not, stress is getting in the way of our ability to operate efficiently and enjoy our lives.
INEFFECTIVE STRESS RELIEF
We do many things to alleviate our stress, and not all of them are effective. In fact, many of them are downright unhealthy. Some people may turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to numb stress. Many of us turn to a tub of ice cream or an entire bag of processed potato chips. Video games, TV, or sleep can also help us forget about our stress, but they can also impede our productivity that would allow us to actually conquer the stressors in our life.
Take a minute to actually think about the things you do when you’re stressed and ask yourself: Does this really relieve my stress? How do I feel after?
EFFECTIVE STRESS RELIEF
There are actually several ways to effectively relieve your stress in a healthy way that will make you physically better AND more able to tackle the stress. The first thing to make note of is whether or not your basic survival needs are being met.
Have you had enough (good) food to eat? Enough water? Enough sleep? Are you feeling too hot or too cold? How is your physical health? Something as simple as the common cold can make your system feel threatened enough to produce excess stress. Eating a healthy snack, taking a nap, drinking a tall glass of water, and taking care of sickness or injury can go a long way in alleviating your base level of stress.
Another great way to tackle stress is some type of meditative practice – mindfulness, prayer, gratitude, breathing exercises, yoga, or intentional music listening. These are easy, can be done anywhere and, for the most part, are free. Visualization of yourself performing tasks within your control, tackling a huge problem, or just a peaceful nature scene can promote feelings of calm and control when you’re under stress.
Meditative practice can be helpful at the beginning of a stressful day to help you enter it organized, or some people prefer a relaxing meditative practice before bed to help them unwind and sleep better.
In our humble opinion, the very best way to relieve stress is through movement. Movement gets endorphins flowing, which boost your mood and refresh your brain. Movement can distract you from pressing problems, especially the more complex movements such as dance or organized sport. Movement can also tire you out more, which often leads to better sleep.
You are completely at liberty to choose the type of movement that is best for you – a calming walk, riding bikes with your kids, an energetic kickboxing class, or maybe just getting up from your desk to do some quick stretches between emails.
Find a way to work a little more movement into your day today. You’ll notice multiple benefits, such as increased energy, a better mood, fulfilling sleep, a healthier appetite, and, of course – stress relief. In moments of stress – move. You’ll be glad you did.
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