Are you feeling jumpy? On edge? Having trouble sleeping? If the answer is yes, you may be stressed out, and stress is more than a mere annoyance. It’s dangerous and can negatively impact your health, your relationships, and even your job. Learning to manage stress is paramount to maintaining your overall health and wellbeing. Here, we’ve compiled our top five tips to help you manage stress and maximize your day.
Tips for managing stress
Prussian philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt once said, “True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” And the research agrees. Harvard Health Publications cite exercise’s unique ability to both “exhilarate and relax” as the ideal complement to any stress management program.1
Okay, you can stop rolling your eyes now. We know when you’re stressed the last thing you want to do is smile. What you don’t know though is that smiling can actually help you recover from a stressful episode faster, even if the smile is not genuine. In a study published by Psychological Science, smiling lowers your heart rate, which can help reduce stress and improve productivity.2
Practice deep breathing.
Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing is an effective technique for controlling stress. It might seem unnatural at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised at just how calming it really is. Here’s how you do it:
- Find a quiet place to sit or lay down.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, allowing your lungs to fill and your chest/belly to rise.
- Once your abdomen is fully expanded, slowly breathe out through your mouth, expelling all carbon dioxide from your lungs.
Eat less sugar.
Put down that chocolate bar! Did you know refined sugars play an integral role in blood sugar management and that uncontrolled blood sugar has the power to alter your mood? It’s true. And it’s a vicious cycle. Here’s how it plays out: You get stressed and reach for a sweet treat. That treat immediately elevates your blood sugar levels, causing you to crash later and increase the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) released into your bloodstream. The thing about cortisol? It makes you crave even more sugar. Nip it in the bud by avoiding refined sugars altogether.
Acknowledge your stressors.
Understanding what, or who, is stressing you out is the first step to beating stress once and for all. Maybe your boss is riding you harder than usual. Maybe finals are coming up and you’re worried about your chem test. Maybe you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are going through a rough patch. While these might not be something you can address directly, you can acknowledge their effect on your life. Sometimes you just need to talk it out with a friend or loved one.
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- Publications, H. H. (n.d.). Exercising to relax – Harvard Health. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
- Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372-1378.