The last few months of the year with deadlines and public holidays often make for a hard pace. The start of a new year can give you a chance to breathe out. But even if you have a few quiet days or weeks, tight shoulders and tension are never far away.
Family stress. Work stress. Everyday stress. Self-induced stress from scrolling through the news. As it turns out, stress is hard to avoid. Instead of waiting for your last stressful patch to wear off this year, consider a different approach. Teach yourself to stay grounded and calm no matter what is going on around you.
Dealing with stress will help you stay healthier
It is important to deal with stress as it is not only emotionally stressful but also harmful to health. When you are under stress, the levels of a hormone called cortisol in your blood rise. Over time, chronic stress that leads to higher than normal levels of cortisol can destroy your metabolism, accelerate weight gain (especially in the middle), and cause dangerous inflammation in your body. It can affect your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart, and even your memory.
Three simple strategies to reduce stress
Try three simple strategies to lessen the effects of stress.
Do it again. Much of the stress in life comes from how we see the different situations we encounter. For example, two people can do the exact same job, but only one person can find it stressful. Some of this has to do with personality, but it also has to do with your inner narrative – how you frame things in your head. Often times, changing your perspective can reduce the number of stressors in your life.
Release tension. Exercise can lower cortisol levels and help you achieve a more even keel. However, for many people, sticking to a daily exercise plan is stressful as they choose activities that they don’t like. Instead, opt for something you love – gardening, nature walks, or yoga – that can slow down the harmful effects of stress. When you look forward to the activity, you can stay motivated and undress and recharge.
Organize yourself. Have you ever spent 20 minutes looking for your car keys or finding a misplaced shoe? Disorganization and clutter can cause stress and are unnecessary. If you take the time to set up some systems such as: For example, a designated location for your keys can help reduce these daily nuisances. Also, plan ahead when it comes to other strategies you can use to manage your stress. Make time to exercise, plan healthy meals, and schedule regularly to make sure you are getting enough sleep. When you know that you are going to get into a stressful time – the anniversary of a loved one’s death, an upcoming surgery, a financial challenge – think about how you will deal with it beforehand. Having a plan can help relieve your stress and prevent it from affecting your health.
Whichever strategy you choose, take the time to evaluate your approach and revise it if it doesn’t work. Sometimes it can take time to find the right combination of stress busters. If you’re trying to relieve stress on your own and you’re unsuccessful, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a mental health specialist who can help you.