Being able to identify when you’re stressed is one thing. Finding healthy ways to manage that stress is quite another.
Just as everyone experiences stress in different ways physically, emotionally and psychologically, there’s no one-size-fits-all technique for processing anxious feelings and calming nerves.
Of course, if your stress levels are constant and impacting on your life and happiness, speaking to a GP or even a counselling helpline (details at end of post) is an important first step. In general, however, finding a simple activity that helps to calm your mind is beneficial for those days and situations that are just a bit punishing on the nerves.
Earlier this week, Redditor Super C_Complex posted a question to the forum: “What do you do to manage your stress in a healthy way? Like, if work has you upset and stressed out, how do you handle it?”
Here are some of the coping strategies they suggested — and you’ll quickly notice there’s a common thread:
1. “Deep breathing, exercise, herbal tea, listen to guided meditation, things of that sort.”
2. “I go for a bike ride. Because of my location I like to go bike to a beach, but biking to any calm/relaxing area is very quaint and calms my nerves (if you don’t have a bike walking is good, or going for a nice drive).”
3. “During exams I use to love nature walks/hiking to relax, there’s some nice bliss about not being able to get a text message.”
4. “I work out. Nothing fancy. ‘These are just weights, life is heavier’.”
5. “Go for a walk – try go to a new environment or an environment you don’t visit often, it will help clear your mind, remind you whatever is upsetting you isn’t the end of the world around you.”
6. “Gaming. I frequently lose myself in some RPG. Even board games usually work.”
7. “When at home, I just put on my headphones, turn off the lights, lay on bed and close my eyes to appreciate some of my favourite songs.”
8. “Cooking. Spending an hour or two trying a new recipe does wonders for me when I’m feeling stressed, plus I get to (hopefully) eat something good afterwards.”
9. “Try and do something that’s completely different from whats causing the stress. That at least allows me to ignore it for a while before having to find the root cause of the stress and solve it.”
10. “[Keeping a diary is] very cathartic and therapeutic, especially when looking back on entries from, say, a year ago. You really do see how trivial some thing you worry about are. I’m not disciplined enough with it to do it every day – just on the times where I seem to be overflowing with feels or the stress.”
11. “Exercise definitely helps a lot, and just getting out of the house and getting as close to nature as possible. I like taking walks in the woods. I recently started listening and practicing guided meditations before bed and I’ve found it really helpful so far.”
12. “Playing guitar/piano, singing, writing songs. Really just helps get my feelings out.”
13. “Boxing. It’s amazing.”
14. “I workout. I lift, and do cardio after lifting. Nothing helps de-stress me than a squat workout. Perfect start to the weekend. I don’t drink during the week too, since that just stresses me out even more I found by being tired the next morning.”
15. “The best way is to try to limit any stress beforehand, whether that would be organising myself and setting goals for work/exams, or by taking a five minute break. It helps me a lot to realise that I can’t control everything, and there will always be times where I’m stressed out, but I’ve sorted out my stress problem before and succeeded so there shouldn’t be a reason why I can’t do it again.”
Notice how often exercise was mentioned? That’s no coincidence. According to clinical psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute, Dr Suzy Green, exercise is a non-negotiable when it comes to managing stress because it’ll help you process the adrenaline coursing through your body, allowing your to think more clearly.
“When you’re under the pump, when the curve balls come and you’ve got a number of stressors, you need to up the ante. If your regimen is three times a week, I’d be pushing it up to five,” Dr Green told The Glow.
As for number 16 on the list… well, science is on your side there, too. When you have an orgasm, your pituitary gland releases endorphins, which naturally make you feel more content and relaxed. Your levels of the stress-inducing hormone, cortisol, also come down.
Regardless of your chosen stress reliever, it’s important to remember help is out there if it all becomes too much to cope with and stress is causing you anxiety. Contact your GP or reach out to Beyond Blue for more support and information.
How do you cope with stress? Is there a particular technique you find helpful?
A version of this article originally appeared on The Glow.
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