Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Stress is part of our everyday life - whether it's a deadline at work, a death of a loved one, injury or illness, marriage, or even traffic while driving to work. The goal isn't to eliminate it but rather to manage it and choose healthier options. Here are three simple strategies to help manage your stress.
The Mayo Clinic states that exercising pumps up your endorphins, reduces the negative effects of stress, and improves your mood. Starting small with a walk can get you moving in the right direction.
If you like walking, here are some ways to keep it interesting:
Listen to music - classical, rock, pop, and so on.
Play a game - count how many squirrels you encounter.
Take a photo - of yourself, of the grass, of a tree.
Create a challenge - hit a certain amount of steps, time, etc.
WebMD suggests several techniques, including deep breathing, breath focus, equal time for breathing in and breathing out, progressive muscle relaxation, and modified Lion's breath. My favorite technique is box breathing.
Breath in and slowly count to four.
Hold your breath for four seconds.
Exhale for four seconds.
Repeat until you feel re-centered.
Harvard Health Publishing states the process of writing may enable those that have experienced traumatic events to learn to better regulate their emotions. When I write, whether it's a blog post, book, news article, or even journaling for myself, I escape into the creative world. When words can flow and writing can captivate my attention, I flee from the world of stress.
If you're new to journaling or writing down your thoughts, here's a JOURNAL acronym to help you get started.
Jot down a list of topics.
Brainstorm as many topics that you could write about and order them by your favorites or one that inspires you at that moment.
Open your mind.
Some of these topics might feel uncomfortable to write about or bring up other emotions. Open your mind to play with words and express yourself.
Understand that there isn't one way to journal.
Each person has their unique way of "journaling". It can be a notebook, online, through a voice memo, and so on. Find a method that you prefer and know that it doesn't have to be like anyone else. You can write, draw, paint, scribble, etc.
Reflect on thoughts, feelings, and topics.
After you start writing the topics, reflect on what those topics mean to you. Do they make you think of other things? Do they make you feel sad, angry, upset, happy, nostalgic? Keep writing and reflecting.
Never judge yourself.
There's an inner critic inside each of us. "That's stupid", "why would you write that", "I'm a terrible writer", and the list goes on. Instead of judging what you are putting on the page, reflect on how it makes you feel as you write, type, or speak it out loud.
Always keep writing.
Practice writing your stream of consciousness. Don't worry about the punctuation, grammar, and if it makes sense. Keep writing your thoughts, one after another.
Look forward to the next time you write.
Embrace all the feelings you had and plan a day or moment where you will write again.
Our attitudes and perceptions of stress can impact our lives. Instead of eliminating stress, finding ways to manage it will help improve multiple aspects of your life. Walking, breathing, and writing are just a few simple examples of how to manage the stress in your life. The goal is to start small and do something you're confident in achieving.
What strategies will you use to manage your stress? Comment below.