3 Ways to Conquer Stress During Stress Awareness Month
Life seems to have its way of throwing endless curve balls at the worst times — and these unexpected conflicts cause us to stress. If we let it get out of hand, stress can be debilitating, and can even lead to anxiety and depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 7 out of 10 adults experience stress or anxiety, and claim that it interferes with their daily life and responsibilities.
Stress comes in many forms, too: deadlines, illnesses, divorce, car accidents, losing a job — the list is never-ending and not limited to life’s more memorable events. Sometimes, worrying about even the smallest things causes bounties of stress and anxiety.
But, that doesn’t mean stress is unmanageable or that it should overpower your life.
In honor of Stress Awareness Month, we’ve provided three ways to cope with stress so you can live your life being happy, healthy and focused.
1. Get Active: We all know that exercise has a lot of physical benefits, but it can also be a great stress reliever.
Many healthcare professionals are more likely to recommend exercise to help reduce stress over other coping techniques due to the significant impact it can have on your health.
Exercising allows you to focus your concentration on the activity you’re doing instead of your daily anxieties, especially with fast-paced exercises like running, swimming or playing soccer. This gives you the opportunity to revert your attention to positive aspects in your life rather than the ones that cause stress and worry.
Exercise also benefits your sleep patterns, depression and anxiety symptoms, and overall mood.
Physical activity produces endorphins in the brain, which helps to reduce the feeling of pain and discomfort. So as you begin to shed weight, you can also shed anxiety and stress while increasing your energy and positivity.
Physical activities to reduce stress: running, walking, soccer, basketball, swimming, fitness classes, going to the gym, volleyball
2. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness, a mental state of being aware in the present moment, can be difficult to achieve.
With daily practice, mindfulness can reduce stress and increase the positivity in your life. Being present in your daily life allows you to become more aware of your thoughts, so you can take a step back instead of acting impulsively on each worry.
Mindfulness is all about having the ability to pause and think and act with purpose in all sorts of situations — a skill that comes in handy especially when faced with tough or challenging circumstances.
Don’t know how to start being mindful? Try taking just two minutes out of your day to sit still — in silence or with meditative music in the background — and quiet your mind. At first, you’ll have thousands of thoughts running through your mind, but as you practice, those thoughts subside.
If you’re having trouble starting out, think about your breath. In your head, say the sound hum as you inhale, and sa as you exhale. Over time, lengthen your meditation period.
When you regularly practice mindfulness, you’ll notice that stress isn’t as present. And you’ll experience other benefits like being aware of the emotions of others, the ability to listen to your own body, and being more compassionate in your daily life.
Mindfulness activities to reduce stress: intentional breathing, meditation, yoga, deep relaxation, journaling
3. Start Laughing: Many say laughter is the best medicine, and it’s true.
For an emotional expression we typically don’t pay much mind to, laughing has several health benefits.
The physical reaction of laughing stimulates organs like your heart and lungs while increasing the endorphins in your brain. And it helps relax your muscles, which reduces the physical symptoms of stress.
Frequently feeling negativity can also do a number on your immune system, which is why sometimes you feel physically ill when you’re a little down or stressed out.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses.” Laughter can also help relieve pain that comes with those severe sicknesses.
Fun activities to reduce stress: game nights, watching comedic TV shows or movies, spending time with friends and family, trying something outside of your comfort zone
It’s easy to feel a bit lost when dealing with copious amounts of stress. When it all seems a bit unmanageable, just remember to take a step back and try a stress-relieving activity.