5 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress is a common symptom of living, working, and having responsibilities. In fact, a little stress can be healthy; it motivates you to move forward and complete your tasks and goals. According to research from the University of California, Berkeley, chronic stress may be harmful to us, but a little bit of stress or acute (short-term) stress may actually boost our cognitive function.
Stress is more or less a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences. It’s only once stress becomes overwhelming that it becomes, or can become, a serious problem. Your body tends to respond to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates.
Stress also tends to cause the brain to get more oxygen, which instinctively gives you an edge when responding to a problem, thus helping you deal with tough situations that you’re faced with — a sort of fight or flight response.
If you find yourself having trouble dealing with everyday stress, there are things you can do to help put your mind at ease. These five habits will help you cope with and ease everyday stress.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the most surefire ways to relieve stress. Exercise, in whatever form, triggers your brain to release endorphins, aka your body’s feel-good hormones, to help keep your stress at bay. Studies have also shown that exercise effectively lowers depression and anxiety levels to not only help you manage stress but also improve your mood.
Just make sure to keep finding ways to fit physical activity into your day, whether it’s going to the gym, walking around the block during your workday, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
2. Try not to take on too much during the day
Although having a to-do list is a superb way to manage your day and stay organized, having one that is excessively long can paralyze your desire to take action and get started. The best way to make sure that you get everything done is by shortening your to-do list, and keeping it to only what is a priority or what you absolutely have to do that day.
Someone who has the ability to determine what is critical, while not giving as much attention to trivial tasks, is a more valuable, productive leader than one who is weighed down and unable to prioritize, according to a Talent Management report on Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less.
There is nothing like looking at a page-long list of things you have to do to make you feel overwhelmed and procrastinate. In short, prioritize what you have to do and leave what can be done at a later time. This will also allow you to put your best foot forward and get your essential tasks done well.
3. Plan out your week
Being an effective planner means that you’ll get more work done in less time, leaving you with more free time and less stress overall. In addition to exercise, this is not only one of your best bets in helping manage your stress but it will also make you feel happier overall.
The Art of Manliness suggests that you pick a day to establish your “Weekly Attack Plan,” saying that the weekend is a good time to do it as it allows you to review your successes and failures from the previous week to help you look ahead with confidence to the next.
4. Clean up your desk or work space
Although you may be the kind of man who works just fine amongst a mess of chaos, you might not even realize that your messy space is making you feel stressed. A study published in the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who have a list of unfinished projects or who live in a disorderly home reported feeling more fatigued and depressed. (Although this research looked at women, the general takeaway is that a cluttered space adds to one’s everyday stress.)
Additionally, the group also had higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can affect your mood and quality of sleep. This one is easy to solve: Before you leave your office for the day, make sure you tidy up a bit or make a conscious effort to go through files and things on your desk to organize and clear your space.
5. Try meditation techniques
Meditation is a powerful yet incredibly simple method to de-stress. In addition to calming a frantic mind, meditation involves taking full, deep breaths that allow your body to receive more oxygen; the more oxygen your body gets, the less stressed you will feel.
According to a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology Journal, making the effort to meditate for a only a few minutes a day goes a long way in quieting your mind and helping you deal with tense or stressful situations. Try practicing meditative techniques whenever and wherever you can to aid in stress relief.