How do you deal with stress?
From spending time with your pet to practicing self-care, here are 15 answers to the question, “How do you deal with stress?”
- Spend Time With Your Pet
- Gain Some Perspective
- Identify Your Thought Pattern & Trust Your Instinct
- Accept that Stress is a Part of Life
- Spend Time Outdoors
- Gym + Meditation = Less Stress
- Breathing Solitude
- Create Small Manageable Tasks to Turn that Big Stress Ball into Little Nuggets
- Engage in Some Philanthropy
- Seek Joy Daily
- Exercise and Mindfulness
- Build Yourself Up So the Stress Can’t Take You Down
- Meditate for 15 Minutes a Day
- Cut It Off at the Pass
- Practice Self Care
Spend Time With Your Pet
Spending quality time with your furry best friend can make you happy. That statement is more than an observation; it’s a scientifically proven fact.
Many studies have shown the health benefits of simply petting your cat or dog. This interaction decreases your level of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Simultaneously, oxytocin is released, which is one of the feel-good chemicals that keeps us happy and healthy. Your blood pressure goes down and your mood improves. This is why spending time cuddling or playing with your pet is the best natural stress relief.
Some researchers have even linked it to a lower risk of depression and anxiety. If you happen to be a dog owner, you also have the added benefit of going on walks every day, which is another great way to fight stress and its symptoms.
Gain Some Perspective
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to gain some perspective. If I have too much going on or a big problem to solve, I always ask myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Typically, the answer isn’t “the end of the world,” and that’s why this makes it much easier to de-stress and focus on what’s important.
For example, if you have to give a big presentation, it’s normal to be nervous. But it’s good to keep in mind that even if you fail completely, you’ll still live. So, what if someone laughs or you’re red as a tomato? At least you get some experience, and next time you’ll do better.
Identify Your Thought Pattern & Trust Your Instinct
Insufficiency, in any sense, causes stress, but you can deal with it by identifying what is behind it and discovering what fear it is hiding. I always find these ways perfect for dealing with stress:
1) Identify your thought patterns. I take this very seriously because the more stressed you are, the less creativity is awakened, thus compromising many things. Scrutinizing your thought patterns will allow creativity to generate more innovative ideas. So, when you are stressed, do something to stimulate your creativity and let it flow in your thoughts.
2) Trust your instinct; learning to listen to your instincts during stress can bring you the answer you are looking for to face challenges and can be used to mitigate the effects of stress. Remember, most diverse situations can cause a certain urgency that leaves us “blind” and we tend to ignore what is most visible. So, obey that inner voice that is guiding you. Trust me, it will work.
Spend Time Outdoors
Yes, employees from most industries will agree that stress is a natural consequence of their work, especially when the pressure is high. Although this is unavoidable, simple actions like taking a walk, going for a drive, or spending time in nature can decrease stress levels significantly.
Although it may be challenging to find the time to indulge in this, it helps to remember that the time you spend decompressing can ultimately help you perform better at your tasks because you’re approaching them from a calmer and more composed place.
Gym + Meditation = Less Stress
Like most people, stress really affects me professionally and personally. The only way I’ve been able to manage this is by consistently going to the gym and meditating. At first, meditating was very uncomfortable, so I decided to use the Headspace app and it’s made it an easy habit to build. Since downloading the app in 2018, I’ve completed 732 sessions. I confidently say that meditating is one of the best ways I’ve been able to deal with stress.
My stress levels usually reach a peak in the afternoon. At that point in the day, I’ve stared at a screen for 5-7 hours and encountered a number of irritations and frustrations that come with a normal working day. Sometime in the afternoon, I find a quiet corner to do a 30-minute practice that I call a “Solitude Practice.” For the first 10 minutes, I am doing a breathing exercise (called the Wim Hof method) that allows me to shift my focus to the here-and-now and sends signals to my body to reset.
After the breathing is completed, I spend the next 20 minutes in silence. Rather than trying to “meditate,” which can feel challenging and failure-prone at times, I just ask myself to sit quietly for 20 minutes and let whatever happens happen. The simple task of “sitting silently” makes it so I can’t really fail. However, this still gives my mind the space to let frustrations and stressors play out, so they can lose their energy and hold over me.
Create Small Manageable Tasks to Turn that Big Stress Ball into Little Nuggets
I get overwhelmed easily, but I usually internalize my feelings so it’s not often that other people can tell I’m stressed. That’s why it’s really important that I get to know my own signs.
Once I realize that I’m feeling stressed about something, I have to break it down: why am I stressed? How can I tackle the problem? Where do I start? I then create a list of things to do, small manageable tasks. Oddly, after doing just the first task, I instantly feel better and I’m in the right mindset to tackle the rest of the problem.
Ashlea Harwood, HR & Office Manager, Darwen Electrical Services Ltd
Engage in Some Philanthropy
Some time back, I came across two short studies on older citizens that found that individuals who spent more on someone else showed lower blood pressure compared to those who spent more on themselves. Even after accounting for factors like exercise, marital status, and income, these findings were still valid. So, I have been following this. Well, even giving a really small amount does help me feel relieved after a stressful day. Giving when you don’t have the money or time to do it, though, could be harmful to your health. For instance, the strain of caregiving is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Seek Joy Daily
There are many excellent ways to deal with stress, but one of my favorite ways to reduce stress is to seek out joy on a daily basis. For me, joy is different than happiness; it’s deeper, like happiness is at a brain level whereas joy is at a soul/spiritual level. Joy looks different for everyone, so I encourage you to pay attention to what brings you joy. It’s often the small, seemingly insignificant things that bring us the greatest amount of joy. If you’re having trouble identifying your “joy,” start trying new things.
Experiment. Ask others if you need some ideas. Once you learn what brings you joy, make the effort to do/experience it daily. Life is hard, and it’s easy to go through the motions of the day without much joy or happiness. Therefore, we need to purposely seek it out. The more often you do this, the more you will notice a positive impact on your mental health.
Exercise and Mindfulness
I am really busy all the time as I run my own small animation studio. Working long hours and keeping client relationships is stressful. I have two things that help me deal with stress: Muay Thai boxing and meditation. I’m not an expert in either, but that doesn’t matter; they help.
Muay Thai is a bit like kickboxing and originated in Thailand. Training this and practicing meditation have both helped me to relieve stress in my own life. I find that the physical activity of Muay Thai provides a great outlet for any pent-up tension or stress I may be feeling, and the focus and discipline required to learn and practice the techniques helps to clear my mind and improve my mental clarity.
Additionally, meditation has been a helpful tool for calming my mind and reducing stress and anxiety. When I combine Muay Thai training with meditation, I find that it is a powerful combination for managing stress and improving my overall well-being.
Build Yourself Up So the Stress Can’t Take You Down
Stress is a fact of life, and it should come as no surprise when it arrives. That said, there are systems you can set in place to help you prepare.
Building positive self-care habits is the best way to sharpen your spear when combating stress. These habits are seemingly obvious, but they are difficult for many to achieve. These habits include getting a good night’s rest, staying hydrated, eating well, connecting with others, and staying active.
All of these habits are designed to make you a stronger person who is mentally prepared for adversity and stressful situations.
Meditate for 15 Minutes a Day
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and promote calmness in your day-to-day life. Not only does it reduce stress, but it also has health benefits; did you know that meditation can reduce the risk of being hospitalized for coronary disease by 87%? For this reason alone, it is worth adding meditation to your daily habits.
Cut It Off at the Pass
Why are you stressed in the first place? For me, dealing with stress is less about coping with the feelings once they hit, and more about learning how to prevent it to begin with. As a certified Enneagram coach, I look at stress through the lens of ‘which of my needs aren’t being met, and how do I meet them?’
Being stressed is not coincidental, and doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s your natural way of reacting to something being off, which looks different for every person.
Being able to put your finger on exactly what you need at your core—what motivates you? What drives you? What makes you get off the couch?—is the first step.
Once you can put into words what those needs are, you can begin to figure out how to get ahead of them and make sure they’re met. For example, if you’re stressed because your boss didn’t acknowledge your contributions, you can let them know that you have a need for recognition in the future. Don’t be afraid to speak up; only you know what you’re missing!
Practice Self Care
As a co-founder and CEO of a fast-paced online business, I have always found self-care to be one of the most powerful tools in dealing with work-related stress. While I believe different people have different self-care routines, my strategy often involves taking much-needed breaks, going offline for a few hours, and, more importantly, doing a bit of yoga and meditation a few times a week.
But that’s not all. It’s also about doing the simple daily stuff right. For example, I always make sure I have a bottle of lemon water with me during wall-to-wall meetings. Staying hydrated often makes me feel fresher, more active, and energized.
I have also learned to say “no” more often, especially to work-related stuff that doesn’t necessarily need my attention immediately. In fact, the more I can stick to my daily to-do list, the better. Unless it’s something urgent, I put it off until I find time for it.
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