4 Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress
No matter how calm a person you are or how content with your life you may be, you are bound to encounter some stress. It happens to everybody. At some point, you will run into something that causes stress. What triggers stress can be different for different people. Some might stress out over money or their job, while others have more stress in their personal relationships. People also deal with stress differently.
Sometimes, people will turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of relief. Other people might “stress eat,” overindulging in food to cope. There are also people who try to avoid stress simply by ignoring what is causing it, pretending it doesn’t exist. These methods do not seem particularly healthy, do they? Here are four healthy ways to deal with stress.
Try to Maintain A Positive Attitude And Control What You Can
One of the major stressors for a lot of people is the feeling that things are out of their control. A financial downturn, a public health crisis, or a new boss are beyond the control of most people. Sure, they are worrying. But you can’t really do anything about them.
What you can do is try to control your own attitude. If you can stay mostly positive, rather than dwelling in dread, you might find that the things you cannot control are less stressful. You might be surprised how much your overall outlook affects your stress levels.
Meditation and mindfulness is one of the best ways to redirect your thoughts that are racing in the past or way off in the future. Wherever you place your attention your body follows. If you’re stuck thinking negative thoughts that were hardwired in the past will bring your body to the past. That is where guilt, shame and regret exist. The future has fear, uncertainty and worry. Only in this present moment is where peace exists. When you stay in the present moment you are now in the state of limitless potential.
Exercise and Stay Active
Eating a half-gallon of ice cream per night might offer some temporary comfort, but it’s also going to pack on some pounds if you do it long enough. Similar comfort might be found by doing something that could have the opposite effect on your waistline: exercise.
It’s been shown in multiple human studies that physical activity causes increased dopamine levels in the body. Dopamine is the chemical messenger that in large amounts causes feelings of pleasure and reward. Consuming food and alcoholic drinks produce it, too, so switching to a workout instead of that half-gallon of ice cream could literally produce the same feelings in your brain.
Exercise has also shown to increase serotonin, which makes it easier to sleep. And better sleep is another weapon in the battle against stress. We cheat ourselves out of sleep by thinking we can get by on 5-6 hours of sleep. Try to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep and watch how your stress decreases. This is the time for your body to repair and heal.
Find the time to start moving your body at least 20 minutes a day for 4-5 days a week. You can go for a brisk walk, join a gym, run, yoga, weightlifting, etc. these are all great ways to get your body moving. Try it for two weeks even if you don’t want to. I can guarantee you that after two weeks you will start to really enjoy it and it will become part of your daily routine. Get an accountability partner if you think that will help. This way you both can make sure that your encouraging one another to stay active and completing your workout.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Even if ice cream boosts your dopamine levels, it’s at best a convenient, very short-term fix. But some healthier foods have demonstrated that they can help relieve stress longer-term.
Foods such as avocado and bananas contain large amounts of potassium, which can aid in lowering a person’s blood pressure. Foods that contain omega-3 fats, such as fish or certain eggs, can be used to regulate adrenaline, which can certainly escalate feelings of stress. Magnesium has been shown to aid in lowering cortisol, which is the body’s stress hormone. Magnesium is found in nuts, leafy greens, dark chocolate, yogurt, fish, and more. Eating enjoyable foods that work to keep your hormones in check without causing weight gain would seem a healthy way to combat stress.
Learn To Say No
Better time management seems to be a frequent recommendation for having lower levels of stress. Feeling as though you’re always busy or always in a rush can be very stressful, so managing your time to avoid those feelings is helpful. One simple way to manage your time better is to learn to say no.
A lot of time constraints come from obligations you feel to other people. Your boss might ask you to come in on the weekend. You might get invited to weddings six weeks in a row, or your spouse might ask you to stop at the store when you’re on your way home from a long day at work. Learning to say no to people will help you get more of your time back, which can lead to a less stressful life.
We have been conditioned to think that if we say no then others will be disappointed in us. Someone is always going to be disappointed. You can’t help that. All you can do is work on not taking it so personal. Listen to your higher awareness and do what feels most aligned for you.
Ways to Deal with Stress
Get The Help You Need
Stress can creep into just about anyone’s life. How you handle it, however, can determine what effects it has on you. Having a healthy mental attitude, developing some habits around eating and moving your body, and taking greater control of your schedule might mitigate those effects.
Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our talented therapists at High Expectations Counseling. They are here to help you create a personalized plan to decrease your stress and create a life where you are present and fulfilled. Call us today at 407-967-1327.