Stress is a part of a modern lifestyle, and usually unavoidable. What’s important is not that you don’t get stressed, but that you learn stress management techniques so that you can use your stress positively. If left unmanaged, stress can have dire effects on your health. Prolonged stress has been linked to migraines, headaches, back problems, stomach ailments, a weak immune system, trouble sleeping, depression, and many more issues. Thankfully, with the application of stress management techniques you can control your stress levels and avoid these ailments. The following are a few simple tips and tricks for stress management, which will become habits over time and help you better cope with your stress levels as you relax your mind and body.
- Don’t forget to breath
When you take deep breaths, you oxygenate your blood making your body relax. Conversely, when you take short shallow breaths your heart will beat faster and your muscles will tense up, making you feel more stressed. Although there are multiple breathing techniques that you can apply, a slow deep breath into your belly, holding the breath for a few seconds, and then exhaling slowly several times can be enough to calm you down.
Visualising the stress leaving your body or a calming scene is helpful in relaxing your mind and body. You can imagine yourself in a shower as the stress washes down the drain, or while breathing, visualise the stress leaving your body. Alternatively, you could imagine a picturesque scene that makes you feel calm, and really focus on all the sights, sounds and smells to immerse yourself in this relaxing place.
- Let it all out
Don’t bottle your stress up. Talk to someone who you trust, laugh it off or cry it out, but don’t hold onto your stress.
- Practice mindfulness
Be fully in the present. Focus on something in that moment, an object or something your eating for example, without letting your mind wander to the list of things making you stressed.
- Say a little mantra
Affirmations help in silencing your critical voice that only serves to make you more stressed. Speaking something to existence, applies to stress management too. Compose a mantra that you can say when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, for example “ I am calm and capable”.
- Count to ten
Before you react to a stressful situation in a way that you will later regret, take a moment to count to ten, stretch breath and gather your thoughts.
- Get some exercise
Moving around will force you to take deep breaths, get your blood flowing and release endorphins — all of which will help with your stress management. Moreover, when we feel stressed, our muscles tighten so that if we stretch daily it can help with stress management. Yoga or Pilates are wonderful forms of exercise to incorporate into your life for stress management.
- Get all your vitamins
It is highly recommended that if you live a stressful lifestyle you take a vitamin B supplement, magnesium or a good multivitamin to help your body cope with the effects of your lifestyle.
- Have a cup of tea
There is a tea for everything, including stress management. Chamomile tea, kava kava, passionflower or catnip tea, are all known for their relaxation properties.
- Take a turn about the garden
Lastly, when you are stressed taking a little walk in a garden can help you to ground yourself, makes sure you get some fresh air and removes you from whatever is making you stressed, so that you can gather your thoughts.
Of course there are different levels of stress and how your life may be impacted. For low levels of stress the above tips may be helpful but for more serious stress levels it may be necessary to consult with a psychologist. Contact psychologist Louw Alberts in the Centurion and Pretoria area for help.