Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
Learning to Manage Stress
In today’s social climate stress is something that we just tend to accept as a part of our home and work environment. We are taught that one must learn to relax and take charge of one’s reactions to external events, people, and circumstances. In this way, one will find peace and remain in proactive control over the emotions that tend to get the better of us throughout our day. However, dealing with stress in an effective and efficient manner goes beyond simple relaxation techniques and into the realm of effective stress management strategies.
Effective stress maintenance involves managing what you eat, how you think, the manner you treat your body, what actions you take on a consistent basis, how you deal with social interactions, and what you tend to avoid doing. These key factors of stress management are the foundational blocks that will help you to build harmony with yourself, others and your immediate environment. Cultivate them and apply them to your daily routine, and you will find bliss where others only find havoc and mayhem.
The Stress-less Nutrition Guide
Managing our daily levels of stress always begins with our food indulgences. There are many foods that we consume regularly that can aggravate and elevate stress levels quite considerably. On the other hand, there are also nutrient-rich foods that tend to settle the body and naturally calm the mind, thus assisting with the reduction in stress levels and allowing for greater clarity of thought at times when our emotions tend to get out of hand. Here are some Nutritional suggestions to assist you with your stress management goals and objectives:
Energy in a Liquid
We all know and understand that a vast percentage of our body is made up of water. It, therefore, makes sense that water would provide you with the support you need to handle stress more effectively. In fact, making sure that you stay hydrated throughout your day is essential as it will boost your levels of energy and enable you to work through circumstances with more vigor and persistence.
Another important liquid/herb that will help you to control your levels of stress is green tea. Green tea provides the body with a natural antioxidant boost. Antioxidants fight free radicals that tend to ravage a body under stress, therefore promoting a greater sense of health and well-being.
High Protein Intake
Protein is a natural energizer. It will do more than just fill you up and stop your hunger cravings; it will also keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Focus on consuming foods that are high in protein including tofu, eggs, yogurt, shellfish, salmon, tuna, lean red meat, chicken breast, and whey protein that you can purchase in a shake.
High Green Veggie Intake
The best source of carbohydrates for invigorating energy levels and for reducing stress can be found in green leafy vegetables. Go shopping today and purchase a large variety of green leafy vegetables and mix them into your meals. Apart from these types of foods you should generally keep to a low carbohydrate diet.
Whole grains are another great source of energy-rich foods that will assist in keeping your stress levels at manageable levels.
Low Saturated Fats
Focus on consuming foods that are low in saturated fats. Instead, choose foods that provide you with essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids providing you with ongoing and lasting energy. They are also essential for the health of your heart, joints, brain, skin and for ongoing digestive health. Foods that contain high quantities of Omega fatty acids include raw oils, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
Regular Healthy Snacks
Eating foods regularly throughout your day is okay, as long as you focus on consuming high energy-rich foods. Snacks rich in natural energy will provide you with boosts that will help you manage potential stress more effectively throughout your day.
As a general rule, we should be eating small meals every 4 hours in order to keep our blood sugar levels stable. Four hours after eating, our blood sugar levels usually begin to drop, which leads to mental, physical and emotional fatigue that naturally increases stress levels.
Taking daily supplements that are rich in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, B and E will help fight the damaging effects of free radicals on the body.
The Stress-less Mindset Guide
In a lot of ways, stress is only a perspective, or in other words an illusory representation that we create of an event or circumstance in our minds. We either see these events in a positive light or we feel that we have little control, and therefore the consequences of the circumstances tend to overwhelm us — as a result our stress levels are intensified.
By learning how to control the mind, you will also learn how to manage your stress levels more effectively. Here are a few suggestions that will assist you with managing your personal psychology:
Become an Optimist
Look at every situation from an optimistic point of view. See everything as having a silver lining that you may not yet be consciously aware of. In this way, you will have the upper-hand and will not allow your stress the get the better of you.
Ask Effective Questions
The people who deal with stress most effectively simply ask better questions that lead them away from stress and into harmony.
Next time you are dealing with a situation that you perceive as being stressful, take a moment to notice the types of questions that you are persistently asking yourself within the recesses of your mind. Then ask yourself the following:
Are these questions helping me to deal with your stress in an effective and proactive manner?
Are these questions enhancing and aggravating my stress to even higher levels?
The questions you must be asking yourself should be focused on solutions and outcomes that will help minimize your levels of stress and bring your body, heart, and mind into harmony.
Think About the Bigger Picture
Gain perspective on the situation by thinking BIG.
Will this really matter long-term?
Will it make a real difference to my life in a negative way even if things don’t go as I imagine?
What is the worst possible thing that could happen?
Is it really as bad as it seems?
How will I look back upon this situation in 5 to 10 years or even next week?
I hope that you get the idea. It is all about gaining perspective by thinking BIG.
Adjust Your Standards
Sometimes we stress unnecessarily because our standards are simply too rigid and inflexible. Are you the type of person who wants to make sure all things are perfect? Or maybe you are the type of person who has to be in control of absolutely everything? If you are one of these people, then maybe you should think about adjusting your standards and giving yourself a break every now and then.
If your standards are inflexible and too rigid then they may well be stressing you out unnecessarily. Think about it… what you perceive as being imperfect, others may perceive differently. Your standards are not other people’s standards. So give yourself some slack and quit stressing over perfection or control.
Reframing means to change your perceptions about the circumstance in a way that will promote a positive outlook and motivate you to take action.
How could this situation be perceived from a different angle?
What is really funny about this that I hadn’t noticed?
How would Mahatma Gandhi see this situation differently… and what would he do about it?
Meditate and Visualize
Both meditation and visualization is known to be beneficial for easing stress levels and centering the mind. Do a Google search or visit your local bookstore and read about the practices of meditation and visualization. It could be one of the best decisions you make.
Affirmations are words and phrases that you say and repeat to yourself on a regular basis. Psychology has shown us that words have a powerful impact on our emotional health and wellbeing. Simply put, the words and phrases you use on a daily basis create the emotions you experience at any moment in time. Repeat words that are of a positive nature and focused on solutions, and you will find that over time these words and phrases will indeed transform your emotional state and help you to climb out of the doldrums of a stressful existence.
Everyday in every way, I am feeling more calm centered and relaxed.
Repeat and repeat over and over and over again.
Anger and overwhelm are two emotions that tend to build a lot of negative stress within the human body. Gaining emotional control over these two emotions can be achieved by applying all the above mentioned psychological strategies. However, as always, the first step of control is all about recognizing these emotions when they pop into your mind. Once you have them under control, you will naturally see your stress levels subside.
Acceptance through Forgiveness
Many times we stress because we tend to hold onto bitter feelings towards other people. Sometimes all it takes is to simply forgive and forget and the stress will naturally wash away like an autumn shower drizzle.
The Stress-less Body Guide
Our body is the vehicle that keeps us going and moving forward throughout our day. However, when it comes to stress it is our body that suffers the most from the consequences of our constant destructive emotions. As a result, our body responds in negative and lethargic ways that could potentially lead to health concerns in the future. It is our responsibility to read our bodily signs and balance both rest, activity, work and play appropriately.
Here are some suggestions for a stress-less body:
Laugh Your Way Out of Stress
The benefits of laughter have been widely documented. Laughter has been known to aid in promoting health and it also assists with reducing the effects that stress brings to the body.
Learn to laugh at yourself, watch comedies on TV, laugh about life and with your friends, and finally, if nothing else works, simply faking laughter has also shown to have tremendous value. The great thing about laughter is that once you start, you just can’t stop, and the effects on lowering your stress levels are instantaneous.
Sex Can Help Too
Sex is a popular form of extracurricular activity and a way to get your mind diverted and focused away from the stress that tends to linger around in your life. It’s also a great form of exercise that has many associated health benefits.
We keep and store a lot of our tension within specific areas of our body. A professional masseuse will be able to identify and ease the tension within these areas, which will lead to a greater sense of well-being and harmony.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This involves progressively relaxing every muscle of your body one muscle at a time up until your entire body is completely at ease. Best results come if this exercise is accomplished while lying down, however, if you are at work you can also undertake the exercise in a seated position.
Begin with your toes and slowing relax each muscle of your body progressively moving up your legs through your chest and up to the tip of your head. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to focus in on this exercise several times per day will help you successfully manage your stress levels.
Consistent Napping and Sleeping Patterns
Uninterrupted sleep brings harmony to the body and mind. On the other hand, interrupted sleep can stress the body through the night and leave it drained and feeling fatigued throughout the day. Moreover, napping has been scientifically proven to ease stress and promote health and well-being. However, when it comes to napping, it is important not to overdo it. Keep your naps to about 20 to 25 minutes and no longer.
When exercise is used in a sensible manner it will assist in helping to manage high levels of stress. Moreover, exercise requires movement, and movement triggers blood flow and deep breathing. Combined, these three biological actions naturally ease stress and promote greater health and well-being.
The Stress-less Action Guide
There are certain actions that we can take on a daily basis that promote harmony and provide balance when things get out of hand. Here are a few suggestions for some stress-less actions you can take throughout your day that will ease the feelings of stress and improve your sense of well-being:
Natural therapies such as aromatherapy, guided imagery, color therapy and self-hypnosis have all shown their predisposition to ease stress and bring back a sense of balance and harmony to the body.
Assertiveness is the Key
Many times the only reason we tend to become stressed and overwhelmed is because we take on too much responsibility as a result of our inability to say NO to others. Other people do not understand your predicament or circumstances. If they did they might think twice before taking up your time with tasks and activities that may not be for your greater health or well-being.
The solution for this is to simply say NO! Be polite and upfront by saying that you love and care about these people and that you would like to help them, however, you currently have too much on your plate and wouldn’t be able to give them your full effort and commitment. That’s it. Leave it at that and feel good about yourself that you have taken control.
Organize and Manage Your Time Effectively
For many of us, stress boils down to our inability to get organized and manage our time effectively. If we don’t have these two fundamental skills under control than we naturally become overwhelmed, which progressively leads to elevated feelings of stress. As a result, we feel as though we have little or no control and at that moment everything tends to get the better of us.
There are some simple key factors that one must keep in mind to get on top and stay on top of one’s time. Begin by setting daily tasks and targets that move you in the right direction. Secondly, manage your tasks by prioritizing them accordingly from most to least important and begin working through them accordingly. Make sure that you keep a balanced schedule and that you delegate responsibility accordingly. This will all come together by taking small steps and moving forward each moment of your day.
Reduce Noise and Distractions
While trying to work or relax, noise and distractions can and do tend to create a certain amount of stress and uneasiness within the body. Simply develop a plan of action to combat these potential distractions and nullify them before they get out of hand.
Simplify Your Life
We tend to stress when our lives become over-complicated. The solution for this is to simply begin today by simplifying your life. Let go of responsibilities and commitments that are no longer necessary, clean out your house, car, pantry, garage, and cupboards of all the things that you no longer need or require, and finally let go of relationships and acquaintances that are over complicating your life.
Relax in Nature
Go out and spend time with nature at every possible opportunity; whether for a holiday or simply on a lunch-break at work. See nature for what it really is by experiencing the beauty that resides within every flower, insect, and shrub. Moreover, take time to breathe in the peaceful harmony that thrives in every corner of your environment. Do you see the ease at which nature moves and flows? Now become a part of what you see and allow all your stresses to simply wash away.
Take a Long Hot Bath
There are few things as satisfying as a long hot bath after a long eventful day. Take your bath in the evening about one to two hours before going to bed and it will assist in promoting a deeper and more restful night’s sleep.
Relax to Your Favorite Music
Think back to a time when you listened to a beautiful and inspiring piece of music. How did that make you feel? For just a moment did it make you forget about everything else in your life? Yes, music indeed can do wonderful things to the body and mind.
Next time you are feeling stressed, simply take a walk and listen to your favorite piece of music and allow your stress to melt away.
The Stress-less Social Interaction Guide
We live in a world of social interactions that can either promote our well-being or hurt us in ways that create stress and bitter feelings. Managing our stress levels isn’t only about ourselves, it is also importantly about managing the relationships and interactions with other people.
Here are some suggestions that will help manage your stress levels as you interact with others:
Because stress is such an overwhelming and widely experienced emotion, it is easy to find people who will support you and who will thoroughly understand your circumstances.
Find and build support networks through family, friends, work colleagues, and even through online social networks. I hope you realize and understand that you are not alone. There are plenty of others going through similar circumstances and their support may very well help you to get through the toughest of times.
Get your mind off your current circumstances by partaking in sporting activities with others. Through participating in sports activities you will be able to let go of many levels of frustration that may be bottling up inside. It’s also a great way to meet and interact with new people or catch up with old friends.
Play with Children and Pets
One of the best ways to completely lose yourself is to play with small children and pets. There is something remarkable about the younger generation that brings great joy to the old and wise. The innocence that is brought forth by their nature is contagious and very enlivening. Once you start thinking like a small child or animal you begin to truly understand how insignificant the circumstances of your stress actually are.
Learn to Compromise
Many times we become stressed-out because other people seem to be doing everything within their power to make us feel absolutely terrible. This leads to frustration and eventually, stress takes hold when the situation gets out of control. How about learning the tactful art of negotiation and compromise. Both parties will surely appreciate an amicable ending to a potentially stressful ongoing argument.
Express Your Feelings to Others
By expressing your feelings to others, you are letting go of bottled up emotions that can cause a lot of stress and distress within the body. Talking openly about your feelings to someone close to you — or even a stranger — can become a great form of ongoing stress management.
Isn’t it amazing how the act of getting completely lost in helping another person with challenges in their life can help us feel much more relaxed and at peace with our own circumstances? Try it sometime, it can indeed work wonders.
Avoid Stress Inducing Activities
Managing stress is as much about what to do as it is about what not to do. Here are some things you should keep in mind that may aggravate and enhance your levels of stress:
Avoid Stressful People
This doesn’t really require much explanation. If someone is stressing you out, simply avoid them. If you can’t simply avoid them because you live or work together, then take time to compromise, reframe the situation, change your perspective, forgive them, alter your standards, or simply go visit a psychiatrist and get some help 😉
Mainstream toxins such as alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes are known to elevate stress long-term even though in the short-term they tend to settle and relax the body.
Avoid Consuming the Following
When it comes to your diet avoid sugars, caffeine, sodas, pasta, sports drinks, fruit juices, white bread, cakes, pastries, white rice and white flour. All of these tend to aggravate and enhance stress levels within the body by robbing you of your natural biological vigor.
Through consistent daily commitment and effort, you too can achieve a state of harmony, balance, and well-being no matter what is going on around you.
As a final thought, remember that stress has everything to do with a state-of-mind and nothing to do with what is happening in your present environment. Stay true to these guidelines, integrate them into your daily life, and peace and harmony will be yours in no time at all.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 20 Ways to Eliminate Stress from Your Life @ Zen Habits
- How to Become a Relaxation Ninja – 36 Stress Relief Tips @ Positivity Blog
- The 5 Best Techniques to Control and Calm Your Mind @ Life Optimizer
- Stop Worrying: 7 Effective Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety @ Pick the Brain
- 4 Personally Proven Steps to Become a Calmer Person @ Stepcase Lifehack
- 10 Ways to Reduce Stress Without Spending a Dime @ Dumb Little Man
- 5 Simple Ways to Eliminate Noise & Discover Quiet @ Good Life Zen
- The Ultimate Guide to Stress Relief @ The Change Blog