Learning natural stress relief techniques is not difficult because stress is not necessarily a bad thing. We all need some stress in our lives but what we don’t want are the nasty physical symptoms caused by too much stress. This is when stress becomes distress and can have very unpleasant outcomes such as heart disease, addictions, obesity and chronic depression.
1. Hang on to your Good Habits
When people become overly stressed they often use it as as excuse to give up on all the good habits they already have in their life. They stop exercising, replace healthy home cooked food with takeout and work into the night when they can’t sleep.
By maintaining the healthy habits that you already have and developing new healthy habits you can avoid many of the debilitating symptoms of too much stress.
To do this you will need to go against your feelings. Your feelings are the result of your thoughts and your behaviours. Feelings cannot be trusted when you are under stress because your thinking will not be at its best. This leads us nicely to our second natural stress relief habit.
The single most important thing you can do to relieve stress is to take charge of your mind. Stress is the result of how you respond to what is happening in your life. If you change your response you will relieve the stress you are feeling.
This may sound simple but unfortunately it is far from simple. It is a practice, however that once learned will serve you throughout your life.
A lot of what happens in your life is beyond your control. To manage your stress levels you need to let go of what you can’t control. There may be some things that you can do in relation to what you can’t control, e.g you cannot stop a pandemic, but you can keep yourself as safe as possible.
Take action over what you can do and then keep your thoughts as positive as possible. Affirmations, mantras and even song clips are valuable if your mind is in a very negative loop. It helps to have something positive to quickly replace the negative thoughts that increase your stress. “Every little thing’s gonna be all right,” by Bob Marley is a great choice for this, but be specific as well. Watch your thoughts and if they are not going to serve you to reduce your stress challenge them. If you’re worried about not being good enough, keep telling yourself that “I’ve got this,” and find examples to back it up so that you convince yourself that it’s true.
Exercise is an important habit to manage stress for a number of reasons. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins are your body’s natural feel good chemicals, so use them to keep stress under control.
It’s easier to stop negative thoughts from surging through your mind if you’re walking or running in nature. If you still find it difficult, stick in some headphones and play your favourite music.
Exercise will help you to sleep better and feel better about yourself. It will also help mop up excess calories from any stress eating that might creep in.
There are various kinds of meditation and they can help to manage stress by relaxing your body and giving your mind a break from fearful thoughts.
Stress is largely your fears about what might happen in the future and meditation helps keep you focused in the present. You don’t have to be 100% still to meditate. Any activity where your mind is deeply focused can be a form of meditation. Mindfully walking or running in nature, yoga, or cycling can relieve stress if your mind is firmly focused in the present
5. Keep a healthy Work/Life Balance
Unfortunately, a healthy work/life balance is often the first thing to go during a period of high stress. Keeping a healthy work/life balance is an important preventer of distress, but it is also an important thing to maintain or regain if you become overstressed. You may be suffering from having worked too hard for too long. Rebalance by taking a few days sick leave if you can, doctors are generally very open to giving you time off work for stress, and confidentiality laws mean that no one at work needs to know why you are off work, unless you want them too.
Most work goes through periods of intensity but if those periods keep going, they can become the norm and that is unsustainable. Guard your work/life balance carefully. It’s necessary for you to be able to sustain a realistic workload over the long haul. The unfortunate result of not doing this is burnout and that can be a difficult thing to come back from. Set boundaries around times of extra work and stick to them. If your job, or your business cannot work with that, something deeper may need to be looked at.
6. Food and Drink
Stress eating is common because food is often used as a comforter. If you do this you are doing yourself a disservice because keeping to a mostly healthy diet is important in maintaining healthy stress levels. Eating badly will increase stress levels because it inevitably leaves you feeling depleted of energy, unwell, overweight and unattractive.
Choose to relieve tension and other uncomfortable stress related feelings in healthy ways rather than digging into a bucket of ice-cream, or drinking a bottle of wine. Have your healthy stress relieving activities ready to go so you can do something beneficial just as easily as you can head for the fridge.
7. Learn Choice Theory
Dr William Glasser was a psychiatrist who was a strong advocate of natural stress relief. He didn’t believe that stress and anxiety are illnesses but rather mistaken thinking that can be corrected by choosing better behaviours, especially better thinking.
If you would like to learn more about this head over to courses.choicetheory.org. You can learn more about Choice Theory there, sign up for regular updates or check out our online stress and anxiety course.
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Thanks so much