If you ever feel like you’re swirling in stress and the pressure is too much to take, you’re not alone. Most of us feel like there’s too much on our plates and we can’t seem to juggle it all.
This stressed-out-and-overwhelmed feeling tends to come and go for most, but sometimes it’s too much, and we can end up feeling like there’s no escape. When that happens, we need a plan. The longer we stay in a stressed-out state, the worse it is for our bodies and minds.
Here are 10 practical tips for getting de-stressed quick:
1. Get Physical
Take a break from whatever it is you’re doing and get some exercise. Science has proven time and again that exercise helps reduce stress. It helps improve our physical, mental, and emotional conditions and can go a long way in fighting chronic disease.
If your stress is health or weight-related, you might find that exercise will do double duty for your stress. The stress-reducing benefits of exercise coupled with the knowledge that you’ve done something positive to improve your physical condition can go a long way in jumpstarting the kind of positive momentum you need to develop healthy exercise habits for the long term.
2. Focus On What You Can Control
A big part of the stress we feel in certain situations comes from not feeling in control. However, even though there might be things in life we can’t control, there are always aspects of our day-to-day we can.
Try shifting your focus away from ruminating over the helplessness you feel, and think about all the things you can control, even if those are small things.
If part of your tension is coming from stress-inducing cognitive dissonance, you might benefit from a boost in self-control. Cognitive dissonance happens when you want something or participate in an activity you know is bad for you. Here are a few examples of things that might cause cognitive dissonance:
- wanting a cigarette when you’re trying to quit
- dreaming of fast food when you’re shooting for a healthy diet
- fighting a desire to call in sick and go skiing when you know you should work instead
3. Get Some Sleep
Finding a few minutes to take a nap can be a lifesaver if you’re feeling stressed out. Not only does fatigue make it difficult for our brains to effectively make decisions, sleep helps reset our willpower and helps us make the right decisions over the wrong ones.
Getting a quick nap can bolster your self-control and make it easier to make the right decision, which can help reduce your stress. But try to avoid sleeping for too long, which can sap energy and make it harder to get high-quality sleep later in the day. For maximum rejuvenation shoot for sleep.org’s recommended 20 minutes when you nap during the day.
4. Eat Zen Foods
Is it too cliche to say you are what you eat? Maybe so, but certain foods have been shown to lower cortisol levels in the body, which might help you get a handle on your stress. Try snacking on dark chocolate, drinking green tea, and getting plenty of fiber.
5. Drink Some Water
Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, which compound feelings of stress. Add to that the fact that your brain shrinks in size when you get dehydrated, and you’re looking at a recipe for stress. Get plenty of water and give your body the hydration it needs to perform at a high level. You’ll feel less stressed and smarter.
6. Declutter Your Environment
Most of us have a little clutter in our home or office. But clutter can become a problem when it starts causing stress. Too many physical objects lying around can compete for your attention and detract from your focus. This can add to your stress levels and create unnecessary mental fatigue.
Do whatever you can to declutter your area if you’re feeling stressed. Take the time to donate or recycle unused items, and organize your life to give it some order. Organize on the outside and you might just find you feel more organized on the inside.
7. Review Your Budget
Money is a common stressor. If you’re feeling edgy over your finances the best place to start might be with a review of your budget. Looking at your reality and making a solid financial plan (even if it looks bleak at first) can give you the sense of control you need to feel to reduce the financial stress you’re feeling.
A lot of people stick their heads in the sand and ignore their financial problem, hoping it will go away on its own. But the best way to overcome financial stress is to look it dead in the eye and get realistic. Even if you don’t like what you see at first, taking a realistic look at your budget and finances will help you reduce stress and give you the information you need to overcome your struggles.
8. Practice Appreciation
You can always find something to be grateful for. Even if it’s as simple as the clothing on your back, it could always be worse. Take a moment and find at least one or two things you are grateful for in your life.
Do you have shelter? Do you have friends who care about you? Are you physically and mentally capable of working to earn your way? Do you and your family have enough to eat today?
We often overlook the very simple gifts in life when we’re striving for that next big thing. In reality, we need very little to be happy and tend to overcomplicate things for ourselves. Get back to the basics and find gratitude for the small things in life that we take for granted. Your stress level will decrease.
Having a hard time finding the positive in your own life? According to researchers at De-StressMonday.org, another important way to shift to the positive is to provide compassion and kindness to others.
9. Learn to Say No
Too often in life, we say yes when what we really need to say is NO. We pile more and more on our plates until they are overflowing, and then we complain that we’re overwhelmed by all life demands of us.
Take stock of your plate (or plates) and try to find items you can remove or eliminate. Ask for help from your family and friends when you can, and remember to prioritize relaxation and downtime as well as sleep and community.
10. Talk to Yourself
When all else fails, give yourself a good talking to! A recent study shows that talking to yourself in the third person can help to reduce stressful emotions. The idea is that talking to yourself in the third person, as we would talk to another person, helps us gain a small bit of distance from our feelings, and reduces the urgency associated with them.
When all else fails, have a chat with yourself! It might help reduce stress and at the very least might make you feel silly enough to crack a smile—which might also help reduce your stress.
Clearly there are lots of ways to reduce stress. Try putting them into practice now, and keep an open mind to new ways to reduce stress as you go. Science is always discovering new ways to help us hack our stressful modern schedules so we can achieve the highest quality of life available.