From personal experience, most people know that stress can wreak absolute havoc on the body, leading to: headaches, stomach issues, high blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep issues, sexual issues, fluctuations in weight and appetite, depression, anxiety and panic, and much more. With some simple coping techniques and stress management help, even the most stressed out people can integrate these into their lives and begin to have a more relaxed, less frazzled everyday life.
Some ways to calm down:
1. Focus on the physical
Before trying to figure out what’s stressing you out, try to focus on your physical well-being. Getting enough rest and sleep is absolutely vital, as well as having regular, nutritious meals and drinking enough water. If everyone would do these simple things, the world would be a happier place.
In the midst of a particularly stressful moment, if you can, drop everything and exercise. Even a ten minute brisk walk can work wonders on your mood, and it can calm your body and mind so you can figure out what’s really bothering you.
If you’re willing, try relaxation and breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
2. Stay positive and be PROACTIVE!
If you haven’t yet read this book, definitely worth buying: Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People- it has insights into life and honestly is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
A quick synopsis, though: Covey presents the idea of having 2 circles: the circle of control and the circle of influence. People often ruminate and stress out about things that are, ultimately, not in their control. When you put down on paper what is and isn’t in your control, you’re better able to focus and feel empowered to do the things you can do. Feeling empowered like this leaves less room to stress out about the economy, what others think of you, or the federal deficit.
3. Make time for the people you love & your hobbies.
4. Learn how to better manage your time
In addition to developing better time management and planning skills, it is helpful to delegate when possible. Delegating is hard for many people, due to logistics, lack of money, or simply because of the “I can do it better” attitude. Realizing that we cannot do everything, however, is vital in dealing with stress.
5. Avoid sugar to the best of your ability!
This could technically fall under number 1, but I think it’s so important, it warrants its own number. When we’re stressed out, many people run to the bakery or crave sugar to quell the feelings of anxiety or overwhelm, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Studies have repeatedly shown the harmful effects of sugar on mental well-being, as well as on physical health.
When stressed, try to avoid using sugar as your medicine and focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains or protein. If you must have sugar, that’s fine, but try to eat it with some kind of protein so the physical effect on your blood sugar will be less intense (and lessen your body’s stress response).
6. Tap back into your spirituality
If spirituality plays an important role in your life, this is definitely the time to tap into it. If praying helps you relax, then by all means, pray. Other outlets may include speaking to a respected Rabbi or other spiritual leaders, focusing on inspiring quotes, or learning something that you find particularly meaningful.
7. Ask for help when you need it.
If your stress seems too overwhelming to deal with yourself or you could use extra support, don't be afraid to ask for help. Call a local therapist, your religious leader, a friend, or join a support group and do whatever works for you so that you feel supported and strong in keeping yourself sane!
Symptoms of stress may include but are not limited to:
•Muscle tension or pain
•Change in sex drive
•Lack of motivation or focus
•Irritability or anger
•Sadness or depression
•Overeating or undereating
•Drug or alcohol abuse