We’ve got 10 ways to cope with stress - MP Edition 019
Just like with feminine hygiene, mental well-being is one of those taboo topics that women have been afraid to talk about. But that’s changing, and we want to help remove the stigma around talking about it. Our third post in our mental health series is about how to deal with anxiety. Read our post on dealing with anxiety here.
From traffic jams to financial woes to work deadlines, many everyday things that can cause you an extraordinary amount of stress. At a biological level, stress is your body’s response to the negative pressures you feel. Left unaddressed, stress can become overwhelming, and often lead to anxiety disorders and depression.
Negative pressures can come in the form of external stressors like work and relationships, as well as internal stressors like hunger and lack of sleep. In response to stress, your body essentially goes into fight or flight mode, a survival response that helps you face danger. In certain cases, this reaction is good, giving you the alertness and boost of energy you need to get out of danger. But long-term stress can leave you susceptible to illnesses like depression, heart disease, obesity, and much more.
Signs of stress
Stress manifests differently in everybody but some common symptoms are:
Increased heart rate
Lack of concentration and motivation
10 ways to cope with stress
How to deal with stressful situations will vary for each individual but below we’ve rounded up some ways that has proven effective in helping to manage stress.
1. Change your perspective
This involves an active mindset change, instead of letting a setback, whether minor and major, ruin your day, reframe your thoughts by reminding yourself that some things are out of your control. While you can’t control everything, what you can control is your reactions. Don't let the negative thoughts take over - reframe them in a positive way. Negative thoughts increases stress while positive thoughts can help you manage stress.
2. Make time for hobbies and interests
Doing things you enjoy will also help you alleviate stress and help take your mind off of whatever is causing you stress. Make time to hang out with loved ones, read, knit, watch TV, listen to music, whatever is your cup of tea.
3. Try these relaxation methods
Activities such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga have stood the test of time as effective methods to reduce stress and aid relaxation. Getting a massage, taking a bath, and doing stretches will all help loosen muscles and help you relax.
Exercising will release endorphins and all those feel good hormones that will help you feel better and less stressed out. Plus, taking care of your body will help take care of your mind.
5. Treat your body well
Stress levels and a proper diet and adequate sleep are closely correlated. When overwhelmed, it’s easy to forgo eating well in favor of a sugar-filled, fatty snack which in the end leaves you feeling tired and irritable after the sugar high. Instead reach for fruits, vegetables, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in small quantities, as these are stimulants and may increase your level of stress. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water or tea, which contain antioxidants that have a calming effect.
Stress leads to lack of sleep and a lack of sleep causes you to be more stressed out - it’s a vicious cycle that you need to break. Aim for the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep because you won’t be able to function properly if your body and mind are worn out. Check out our article on how to catch more Zzz’s.
6. Talk it out with a friend
When you’re feeling stressed, take the time to take it out with a friend or confidant. This will help you put things in perspective and at the very least, voicing your concerns can help alleviate some of the pressure you’re feeling.
7. Laugh it off
They say laughter is the best medicine. And for good reason because laughing releases endorphins that improve your mood and decrease hormones that cause stress like cortisol and adrenaline.
8. Take a beat
It can be easy to react in the moment when that fight or flight response kicks in but doing that may lead to more unnecessary stress. When you’re in a stressful situation, take a moment to count to 10. This will give you time to cool down, let oxygen travel to your brain, and let you assess the situation. Also, take a few deep breaths and consciously relax your jaw, muscles, and body. If you need to, remove yourself from the situation and go for a walk to give yourself the room to think. This helps you avoid doing something in the heat of the moment that you can’t take back. If you can, sleep on it.
9. Take smaller, manageable steps
Often, stress results from people trying to do everything all at once. To help mitigate, set limits and boundaries and learn to say no to asks that will cause you more stress. Get in the habit of creating to-do lists to help you keep track and organize everything on your plate. It helps to break down big tasks into smaller, digestible items.
10. Seek help
Lastly, seek professional expertise if you need it. There’s no shame in asking for help. No one knows your body better than yourself. If you feel like none of the techniques above are working and that you need additional help, seek treatment with your doctor or other professionals that are trained to help you deal with stress.