5 Ways to Deal with Stress
One of the hardest things to do when you are in a stressful situation is to stop thinking about whatever is bothering you, but if you have already done all that you can to deal with a problem, letting these thoughts cycle through your mind will only make you feel more stressed out. Clearly, if you are trying to figure out the best way to deal with an issue, you don’t want to ignore it and hope it will go away. On the other hand, by focusing on something you cannot change, you are only allowing these thoughts to fester and make you feel worse. Like being told not to think of pink elephants, your mind will keep trying to cycle back to a situation that is causing you anxiety. However, you should try to keep your mind off of things that are upsetting that you have no current resolution for.
The reason is that this type of repetitive thinking is bad for you is that when you are in a stressful situation, your body releases hormones that allow you to think faster and deal with the problem at hand. However, if you focus on these thoughts, those hormones keep being released, and they can end up leading to problems sleeping, stomach aches, headaches and a variety of other issues. So while those hormones are good in the short term, you want to make sure that you’re not engaging in behavior that’s going to keep them in your system.
As mentioned, getting your mind off of something that’s bothering you can be a difficult task. Try to think of simple things that will draw your focus away, such as creating grocery lists, thinking about what movies you might like to see or what characters on a TV show you watch will do in the next episode. It takes effort and practice, but keeping your mind off of things you cannot currently effect will greatly decrease the effect that stress has on your life.
It seems like no matter what your problem is, someone is probably telling you to start exercising as a way of dealing with it, and there is a reason for that. The reason that exercise can help you deal with stress is that exercise produces both serotonin and endorphins. Serotonin helps manage mood levels and can help keep you from feeling as frazzled or depressed. Endorphins generate “happy” feelings, which again, help keep you from feeling as depressed or overwhelmed by situations occurring around you. While exercising will not take you out of the situations that are causing you stress, if your body is producing chemicals that help you feel less tense and on edge, it can make working your way through the stressful situation much easier.
Another way that exercise can be helpful if you are feeling stressed out is that it allows you to vent some of your anger or negative energy. Most people that are dealing with high levels of stress become tense and easily agitated. By exercising, you can get rid of some of the pent up energy that you have in a constructive manner. This outlet will make you easier to be around, and it can help make your reactions to stress more balanced, while helping you feel less like lashing out at anything that makes your life more difficult.
Get Enough Sleep
Studies have shown that people actually go through emotional healing when they are sleeping, since the subconscious sorts through things that may be painful for the conscious brain to deal with. However, this type of therapeutic sleep only occurs at the deepest level of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. People drop in and out of REM sleep during the night, so the less sleep that you get, the less REM sleep time you are getting also.
The catch-22 of needing to ensure proper amounts of sleep when you are stressed is that being stressed is one of the times that achieving sleep is the hardest. Trying to get more sleep when you are worrying usually amounts to spending a lot of time tossing and turning while you brood about whatever is going on in your life. Still, there are several natural ways to help you get to sleep, even when you feel like your mind is a three ring circus.
Drinking warm milk before bed can help you relax and get to sleep. Additionally, taking a warm bath can help your body relax, and using lavender or chamomile scented oils or candles can also help you sleep, since both scents have been associated with curing insomnia. Finally, it is important when you are struggling with sleep to have good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene involves setting a bedtime and sticking to it, spending the 30 minutes before you go to bed doing relaxing things and using your bed only for sleep. These methods help get your body into the routine of sleeping under particular circumstances and can help override insomnia.
Create a Stress Reducing Activity
One great way to manage stress is to find something and assign anti-stress properties to the activity. You can train your brain to believe that if you feel stressed out, by doing x you feel more relaxed. One example of this was a friend who decided that whenever she was feeling too stressed out she must be having a low sugar attack. She would then eat a single packet of sugar and say that would make her feel better. After the first few times it stuck, and whenever she felt overwhelmed, she would have a packet of sugar and feel better. Many people will drink a cup of tea, saying that it warms and relaxes them; others will say that they are stressed because they are tired and drink a soda. While this seems silly at first, think of how many times you’ve heard that counting to 10 will help you become less angry? Even if you are creating a placebo effect for yourself, if you believe you are more relaxed, you are more relaxed.
Find a Hobby
A lot of times when people are stressed they need something else to think about, and they need something to feel good about. This is where a good hobby comes in. Many people today are turning to knitting and crochet; they are relatively inexpensive hobbies and there are loads of videos online that can teach you how to do either craft. Other hobbies include scrap booking, blogging, or thrift store shopping. You’ll find that if you have a hobby it’s easier to start thinking about your hobby plans, rather than focusing on what’s making your life stressful.
Further, most hobbies are relaxing; people wouldn’t scrap book or learn origami if there wasn’t something enjoyable about them. As you develop in your skills at your hobby, you’ll also find a sense of accomplishment; stress can make you feel like you have no control over anything in your life, and simply learning to successfully cross stitch a house can be a huge ego boost. Hobbies help you distance yourself from your problems, give you something you can feel proud of, and give you a way to focus your energy on something productive.