- Mental Health
How to reduce stress levels
We live in an increasingly stressful world caused by many different factors. Whether it is down to the pressures of our careers, bringing up our families or surviving financially, many of us find ourselves feeling completely stressed out and needing to find ways to relax. There are many ways to relieve stress, and it is important we utilize these to prevent the increased health risks associated with high stress levels, e.g. heart attacks, strokes, breakdowns etc.
Naturally not all stress relievers are practical in every environment, so you need to select the appropriate method according to the location you are in at any one time. Even some general lifestyle changes can drastically reduce the stress levels you are feeling day to day. This hub aims to suggest a number of good ways to relieve stress in your lives, and hopefully allow you to prevent any future health problems that can be brought on through living a stressful day to day existence.
Sometimes reducing stress is best achieved by some general lifestyle changes. Some good examples are listed here:
Job or Career. If you work in a job that is making you stressed, consider a change of career or even a different role within the same company. You might be in a position to reduce your hours and hopefully your stress levels at the same time.
Hobbies. Try taking up a hobby that you enjoy. This might be something as simple as buying yourself a model railway and creating the scenery around the tracks etc, or it could be taking up a sport like tennis or swimming. So long as the hobby is one that make you feel more relaxed and allows you to forget about feeling stressed, then it is already proving to be effective.
The Great Outdoors. Go out into the fresh air more, preferably in the countryside or a garden. The simple act of watching nature at work, the trees, the birds, the butterflies, the streams etc is totally relaxing. If you enjoy gardening you will probably find pottering about and growing a few vegetables at home is a fantastic way to unwind and chill out. If you can't face the idea of gardening, then try going for country walks, or picnics and reap the benefits this way.
The Kids. It goes without saying that you love your children dearly, but they can raise stress levels very easily, especially if they are with you all day every day. Try to make some time for yourself away from the children. If you have family who will look after them for a few hours here and there use this time to treat yourself to a hot soak in the bath, a night out with friends, a facial, a trip to the movies, some quality time with your partner, or whatever else appeals to you.
Regular Vacations or Mini Breaks. Although these are not so much a lifestyle change as they are a luxury, they can make all the difference. A vacation/holiday doesn't have to be expensive to be beneficial. A couple of nights away in a hotel or guest house can be all it takes to make you feel refreshed and ready for anything. If you can afford a longer break then even better, as then you get a proper opportunity to really recharge your batteries before you return home.
Eat Healthy. It may sound strange, but a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. You will be far better equipped to deal with stress if your body is in good condition. Drink plenty of water, don't drink too much alcohol, consume a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and don't overdo the caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks like Red Bull.
On occasion it might be necessary to immediately reduce your stress levels because of a situation you suddenly find yourself in e.g. during a row with a work colleague or spouse, when you have just received unexpected bad news, or when the pressure of a deadline at work has just become too much to cope with. In these cases the following should help:
Remove Yourself from the Situation. A 'time out' is a good move to lower your stress levels. Go outside and take a few minutes to calm down. This will give you a chance to relax enough to bring your heart rate down, and allow you to think rationally about the situation you have found yourself in. If you can go back with a calmer frame of mind you will not only benefit from it personally, but will probably deal with the problem better anyway.
Take Some Deep Breaths. Depending on the location you are in at the time, take a few deep breaths and focus on relaxing. It may not sound like much, but it can make a huge difference. If you are in company then make an excuse to go to the bathroom, and take the deep breaths there instead.
Have a Cup of Tea or Coffee. This will give you fifteen minutes or so to calm down, and the simple action of drinking the soothing hot drink will take your mind off your stressed out feelings.
Laugh. Try to think of something really funny, or a joke that tickled you recently. Laughter is know to be very healing, and simply distracting your thoughts on to an amusing subject will pay dividends. If you are at home you could try switching to a comedy TV channel, or watch a comedy film on DVD. It is really hard to stay stressed when you are laughing or smiling.
Stroke a Pet. If you don't have a dog or cat of your own, find one you can make a fuss of. Stroking dogs and cats particularly is known to be very therapeutic, and this is probably why certain dogs are taken into hospitals for patients to pet. It might also be worth your while considering adopting a dog or cat of your own depending on your lifestyle and how much time you have.
Play Music. Think about the kind of music that will relax you most, and then play it either through an iPod or on your stereo system. Classical music may well be the best option as opposed to rock music, but follow your instincts on what you think will work for you.
Meditate. Take five minutes to go and meditate. Even if you are at work you can still go to the restroom and find a cubicle to meditate in. Meditate on relaxing thoughts, visualize doing things that make you feel happy and contented. If you don't know how to meditate you can buy books on the subject, or join a local group who can teach you how to meditate.
Write it Down. This can be done two ways. Either you keep a journal/diary of how you feel and what is stressing you out over a long period of time, or you focus on each individual occasion. The former is generally a good way of getting your frustrations out of your system over many months, the latter works well for specific incidents, (in which case you write down why you are feeling so stressed, and then destroy the piece of paper, and hopefully the anguish along with it.)
Do you suffer from stress or know someone who does?
Do you already use any of these methods to relieve your stress levels?
If you suffer from stress will you be trying out one or more of the suggestions in this article?
And to give you a smile.....
#14 of 30 in the March 2012 Challenge