Stress is an evitable part of everyone’s lives, in varying forms and amounts. We all have to learn stress management techniques to effectively cope with many situations in life, although this is sometimes harder than we think. Stress management is the techniques we use to address the stress in our lives, and with the overall aim of improving our lives.
Ideally, we create situations that are increasingly bearable and stress-free, but this is not always possible. Therefore, we must develop ways to address and reduce the stress in our lives; excessive levels of stress have repeatedly been shown to have many negative consequences, to both our physical and mental health.
In the workplace, too much stress reduces productivity, efficiency, employee wellbeing and increases costs associated with staff absence through illnesses. This has knock-on effects for home life and can eventually cause long-term problems both at work and at home.
While some level of stress can be productive and encourage us to get motivated and on with the task or work, there is such a thing as too much stress. Ultimately, too much stress can lead to serious health problems like heart disease so it is imperative that we manage our stress levels adequately. In fact, according to the Benson Henry Institute, 60 to 90% of doctor visits are for conditions that are caused by stress.
Sometimes we can simply remove ourselves from the stressful situation and feel instant relief. However, other sources of stress, such as financial worries, children, or work stressors are not so easily escaped. In these situations, we are best able to control our response to the situation and adapt that to a more constructive response.
70 Ways To Reduce And Manage Stress
The following is an extensive list of ways to combat and manage stress more effectively that can easily be incorporated into everyday life. Some of these ways may not be suitable for everyone, but there is enough variety for everyone to pick and choose what suits them.
1. Prioritize your life so you make sure to get adequate relaxation, and rest to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit.
2. Do yoga regularly, which has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and resulting depression. Yoga poses align the mind and body, and the breathing element helps to clear the mind and eradicate the effects of the fight or flight response to stress.
3. Make a list of what is bothering you. You will soon realize that some things do not need to be stressful and others are more of a priority.
4. Eating healthily makes a big difference. If you are feeling good on the inside, you will manage daily life much better.
5. Exercise regularly; exercise has repeatedly been shown to be beneficial to stress levels, mental and physical health.
6. Imagine calm. Visualize a calm situation, such as a beach, cozy cottage with a warm fire or whatever you find relaxing. Combine this with relaxing breathing techniques for added benefits.
7. Go for a walk outside, even just a short one on your lunch break. A short walk can help clear your mind, be a distraction, and significantly improve mood.
8. ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ is a popular saying for a good reason. Even a forced smile can bring benefits and laughing at a funny video or picture can also be highly beneficial.
9. Say no to some things; it is impossible to do everything all the time. As soon as you learn to start saying no and prioritizing your time, your stress levels will drastically reduce. Accept that you are human and only capable of so much in one go.
9. Count to 10/sheep/stars in the sky/whatever gives you a short break where you can compose yourself before reacting to a stressor. This brief pause can prevent an instant reaction which will only cause you more stress overall.
10. A nap has been shown to be beneficial in so many ways. It gives your body a chance to recharge and recover, so you are ready to start again. Sleeping a sufficient amount ensures you are fully prepared to deal with whatever the day brings.
11. Use aromatherapy oils in some way; this can be in an oil burner, drops on your pillow or cushion, or simply sniffing them. Particular favourites include eucalyptus and lavender. They have a relaxing effect and can take the edge of any stressful situation.
12. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, ensure you spend enough time doing things you enjoy. Whether it is playing with the kids, taking the dog out or a favorite hobby, ensure it is not side-lined by stressors.
13. Snacking on healthy food such as nuts and seeds brings many benefits including improving brain function and preventing hunger. If you have more energy and are not feeling hungry, you are better able to deal with the stressors of the day. If you are in need of more sustenance, food with carbs in will fill you up and provide energy to the brain.
14. Vitamins are essential to body functions, and a deficiency in any of them will affect your ability to manage stress. Even taking a multi-vitamin supplement every day will be beneficial, and by feeling better on the inside, you will be able to deal with stress more effectively.
15. The health benefits of teas such as green tea, jasmine, or chamomile have been widely documented. During times of stress stopping for a cup of calming tea can work wonders. These teas are widely available and can be enjoyed at home, work, or even out and about.
16. Mindfulness has become increasingly popular lately, and it has been scientifically proven to be beneficial. By focusing on the here and now, you are ignoring what may be coming in the future or what might have happened in the past; this ensures you are only thinking about what is relevant and can be controlled right now.
17. Friends are there for us during the best and worst times, and everything in-between. Use friends for what they’re good for – being there during hard times. Just phoning them and getting everything that is stressing you out off your chest can work wonders.
18. We all need something to look forward to, whether it is a holiday, night out with friends, or simply getting takeaway on the way home from work. By focusing on the positives and what is to come, we find ourselves less stressed at the moment.
19. Be realistic and accept that some things are completely out of our control. As soon as you learn to accept that, you will instantly become less stressed.
20. Get a diary/spreadsheet/timesheet/time management app. When you manage your time effectively, you will realize how much time you have that is not used effectively in the day. You can use this time to complete other tasks. Alternatively, you will realize that you can only achieve so much in the time given and can plan in time for work, rest and play equally.
21. Try not to develop unhealthy coping strategies such as relying on drugs or alcohol. Whilst they may seem to take the edge of at the beginning, they only increase stress and problems later on.
22. Practice deep breathing techniques – take a deep breath, hold it in and slowly release. Do this for five minutes every time you feel stressed and you will instantly feel better.
23. Learn to identify stressors and triggers in your daily life. If you can avoid them, then do. However, this is not always possible, so in these cases, think about how you can manage them better, or respond differently.
24. Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine use long term as a mechanism to deal with stress will only cause problems in the long term.
25. Listening to music can have a beneficial effect and relax us when stressed. Pick your genre of music carefully; over time, you will learn what is more effective at creating a relaxing setting.
26. If you have a dog or cat, or have a friend or relative with one, spend time with them. Research has shown simply stroking animals and spending time with them has a calming effect. If you have the time, you could volunteer at a local rescue centre.
27. Prepare the night before – whether this is making the lunches, setting clothes out or loading the car, it will save valuable minutes in the morning. These extra few moments are precious, as mornings are often a source of stress.
28. If you work in an office and are often stressing at a computer, take five minutes to stand up and stretch a couple of times a day. A good stretch will move your muscles and help clear your mind so you are better able to focus.
29. Leave 10 minutes earlier in the morning, meaning you get to school/work/appointments earlier. You will arrive with a few minutes to spare so can sit down and relax, rather than rushing in flustered and running late.
30. Learning to ask for help is a critical, yet hard to develop, life skill. As soon as you are able to accept it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help, you will instantly feel better. Whether someone else can take some of the burden, or simply provide a good shoulder, asking for help will make a big difference.
31. Taking a long, hot bath or shower has many benefits. It can provide a welcome distraction from life’s challenges, and has been shown to be incredibly relaxing.
32. Find some peace and quiet, even if it is just for 10 minutes. Escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life to stop and take a break in peace will be infinitely beneficial.
33. A house or workplace that is full of things and overflowing is a source of stress. Have a clear out & declutter, removing all but essential items. A relaxed environment will help relax your mind.
34. Some things in life seem insurmountable and so much work that it is impossible to do. These things need to be broken down into small, manageable tasks. This will increase your sense of achievement by seeing what you have accomplished, and will make a huge task seem achievable.
35. Delegating is an essential task that will be useful in many areas of life. Once you can delegate, you will find yourself less stressed as you are not trying to do everything all by yourself.
36. Don’t bottle everything up – it does not do us any good to keep everything to ourselves. By talking to friends and family, we can manage the stressor much better and they may also be able to offer solutions.
37. We all try to do too much in one day or in one go, and this is inevitably stressful. By leaving some things until tomorrow or next week, we create a manageable workload for today and avoid the stress that comes with trying to do too much at once.
38. Life rarely goes to plan, so having a backup plan is always a good idea. If something does go wrong, it is much less stressful to know that we have a Plan B, which we can put into action straight away.
39. We need to recognize our own achievements, no matter how big or small, and reward ourselves accordingly. This maybe something small and only meaningful to us, or something more typical, such as a holiday or night out. Either way, recognise when you deserve a reward.
40. Sometimes problems are out of our control and not our responsibility to solve. For example, if a problem arises at work, it may be better to refer it on to your boss instead of trying to solve it yourself.
41. Find a new job if the job is making you miserable and stressed. Whilst this may be easier said than done, it is a medium term goal to aim for. There are many small steps along the way that can act as goals to bring you closer to the overall aim.
42. Water has endless health benefits, and is essential for us to survive. We should all aim to drink a sufficient amount of water each day, to ensure we benefit from its healthy properties. One of these benefits is to reduce stress levels.
43. Becoming an optimist will make you feel instantly better. Instead of concentrating on the problems or negative parts of a situation, think about the positive side. It may seem tiny or hard to find, but it will be there.
44. Look at the bigger picture – does this stressor really matter? Will it matter in 6 months time? If not, then maybe rethink how much you should be stressing about it.
45. Remind yourself of positive affirmations regularly. These can be memorised and repeated relatively easily and quickly and usually work instantly.
46. Therapies such as massages are well known to be beneficial and reduce stress levels. Every so often treat yourself to one of these and you will instantly feel refreshed and less stressed.
47. Sex is a great stress relief; stress releases a series of feel good hormones in the brain, which can leave you feeling satisfied and much less stressed.
48. Whether it’s passing cars at night, loud co-workers or screaming children, unwelcome noises can be a huge distraction. Try to minimize these where possible, and escape to silence when you can.
49. We can derive a huge sense of reward and satisfaction from helping others. It can be something small and simple, through to regular volunteering somewhere. By helping others we help ourselves to feel good and less stressed.
50. Avoid stressful/drama filled people who will only add stress to your life. Life can be stressful enough and removing people who only bring negativity to your life will make a huge difference.
51. Eat more dark chocolate; chocolate particularly that with a high cocoa content, has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels. Dark chocolate helps to regulate cortisol, one of the main stress hormones.
52. Use more honey, for example as a moisturizer. Honey has antibiotic properties and helps the brain to function. This has the effect of reducing anxiety in stressful times.
53. Counting backwards does not come easily to most people and requires a conscious effort. If we are focusing on this and trying to count backward, particularly if it is in 2’s or 3’s, we are distracted and cannot focus on the stressor anywhere near as much.
54. Give yourself a hand massage – this is something that is simple and can be done anywhere. You can do it on your lunch break at work, at home in front of the TV or even out and about. It only takes a few minutes and will help you feel relaxed and less tense.
55. Stress balls are easy to come by and are simple, yet effective. Having one to hand when at work or home can be an easy way to release some tension that is building up.
56. Take 5-minute break to look out the window and enjoy the view. Just spending five minutes thinking about the outside can provide a welcome distraction and restore some energy.
57. Getting organized with paperwork with prevent so much stress when tax returns are due, forms need completing etc. If you know where to find everything, it will be much simpler to do these already stressful tasks.
58. Doing puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku can have many benefits, such as being a distraction from the stressor, or relaxing the mind. They are quick and easy to complete and can be done at home, work, on the move or whilst commuting.
59. Fresh flowers have a unique smell, which will brighten anyone’s day. They can help relax us in the stressful times, and cheer us up. It only takes a few minutes so should be easy to fit into any day.
60. Get more citrus, whether it’s through fruit teas, smelling fresh citrus fruits, or eating them as snacks. Citrus reduces levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine, thus making us feel much better.
61. Laughter has been shown to be a great form of stress relief. By laughing, we activate our stress response, and then swiftly close it down. It also stimulates our brain chemicals and other organs in the body. The effect? A general increase in overall wellbeing.
62. Chewing sugarless gum has now been proven to help with stress levels. This is ideal for anyone who is busy as it can be done at the same time as everything else. Science has also shown that chewing sugar-free gum can increase alertness and productivity.
63. Think about something that was relaxing when you were younger, e.g. a favourite blanket. Just stopping to think about these things can have a calming effect, even if it is many years later.
64. Start small and gradually work up. Whether it is a work project or planning an event, it cannot all be done at once.
65. Do something new and out of your comfort zone. You are likely to be anxious about trying something new and meeting new people, but it will be a welcome distraction.
66. Watch an episode of something on TV, and go for something easy that doesn’t require much brain power so you can relax and switch off. Alternatively, if you find this stressful because you are still thinking about the stressor, choose something that will require you to concentrate on it. You will become engrossed, focused on the program, and find yourself being distracted from the stressor.
67. Walk away. Sometimes the only option is to walk away from the stressor, and either let it go or return later when you are calmer and better able to assess the situation more rationally.
68. Make time for fun activities and hobbies. Life cannot be all about work.
69. Create a list of the stress reduction methods that work best for you, and review it often to be sure you are implement these methods.
70. If you find yourself completely overwhelmed most of the time and struggling to cope, it may be time to consult a professional. This may simply be an appointment with your doctor, but they can refer you as and when necessary. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to ask for help.
Try Self-Hypnosis To Release Built Up Tension and Stress
Experiencing stress is part of our natural fight-or-flight response. However, when it starts to consume our bodies, it can wreak havoc with our mental and physical health.
Too much also affects our ability to make good decisions and think clearly.
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