Stress is a natural emotion and all of us will feel it from time to time. From an evolutionary perspective, stress is instilled in us so that we trigger our fight or flight response when we are in a position of danger. This can be potentially life saving, so stress isn’t always a negative thing.
However, nowadays, more and more of us are feeling stressed without a life threatening cause. This means that we experience the negative emotions and state of mind associated with stress without any of the benefits.
It’s important that if you are feeling stressed on a regular basis, you do something about it. This is for the sake of your physical wellbeing, your mental wellbeing and your emotional wellbeing.
Here are a few different things you can do to actively reduce your stress levels and lead an overall better quality of life!
4 Things you can do everyday to reduce stress
1. Practice meditation
Meditation is renowned worldwide for instilling people with a sense of peace and calm. It’s not exactly a new practice, even if it has only risen to mainstream prominence in the west over the past couple of decades.
Meditation dates all the way back to 1500BCE and formed an important part of Hindu Vedic practice. Then, between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, there is evidence of meditation becoming a part of Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist traditions too!
Nowadays, meditation is employed by countless individuals of all faiths and backgrounds as a means of achieving peace and reducing stress!
What exactly is meditation?
Most of us are familiar with how people stereotypically look when they meditate. We conjure up images of people sat cross legged or in the lotus position on the floor, hands on their knees with their eyes closed, in silence or chanting a mantra.
But what are people doing when they do this?
Well, meditation involves using a specific technique – such as mindfulness – to focus your thoughts and breathing and train your attention and awareness. It’s extremely calming.
The benefits of meditation
There are countless benefits of meditation and different people will often meditate for different reasons. If you’re under stress or pressure, meditation can help to induce feelings of calm and peacefulness, removing feelings of stress and other negative emotions.
Meditation can also consequently reduce your blood pressure, relax your muscles and boost your immune system. It can also give you a chance to instill a sense of purpose and meaning to your day to day life!
Learning to meditate
Of course, there is some skill that goes into meditation. You will have to learn it in order to get the most out of your own meditation.
There are groups out there, but you can also learn to meditate independently. There are plenty of online guides, video guides and apps that will take you through the process step by step.
What will work best for you will depend entirely on your personal preferences, so it may be a process of trial and error before you find something that suits you and seems to work. But keep up with your efforts and you will get there eventually.
2. Keep a journal
Sometimes, we’re stressed because we bottle up all of our emotions and try to sweep them under the carpet. But sometimes, you have to give these pent up emotions release.
Now, there are plenty of ways to release your emotions, but you want to focus on the positive methods. Too many people will emotionally burst, lashing out at loved ones and ending up in arguments. Instead, you can vent slowly and healthily.
Journaling is a great way to vent your emotions and release emotional build up. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Each day, or each time you’re feeling strong emotions or excess levels of stress, simply get your journal out and write down what’s happened and how you’re feeling.
This will help you to gather your thoughts, figure out what’s causing them and it will also give you an opportunity to find healthy ways to resolve the issues that are causing your stress!
Journaling may come naturally to you. But if you’re not much of a writer and don’t communicate in this way naturally or often, you may want to follow tips online detailing how to keep a Mindfulness Journal. You may be able to find prompts that will encourage you to introspect and write out things that will provide you with release.
3. Try out breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are becoming an increasingly popular means of stress management. You may have noticed that we mentioned them briefly when talking about meditation and mindfulness above, but let’s take a moment to look at them in their own right.
Breathing exercises are a coping mechanism that can help you to avoid stress-related outbursts and calm and control volatile emotions.
It may sound odd that the way you breathe can impact your emotional wellbeing, but there are many studies into the subject and most have found that breathing exercises are a brilliant tool when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety in the average person.
It’s thought that this is because specific breathing techniques can have a positive impact on noradrenaline levels in your brain – so there is some science behind it!
Put simply, low noradrenaline levels are often paired with a low and sluggish mood, while high noradrenaline levels are associated with stress. You want to be able to make a perfect balance. Breathing exercises and techniques can help you to achieve this!
The benefits of breathing exercises
As well as reducing your stress levels, a great benefit of breathing exercises is that they are subtle. They can be carried out anywhere at any time. If you feel your stress rise and peak in a public setting or scenario, you can start your breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels without anyone even noticing.
It’s important that you always get enough air in your body and don’t deprive yourself of oxygen. So, it’s best to start at a beginner level and work your way up with your breathing exercises as you increase your lung capacity and learn to better control your breath.
There are plenty of online guides and tutorials that will take you through the basics and introduce you to quality techniques! There are also Apps that can work in a similar way.
4. Reduce stress at work
Many people will report that the thing that creates the most stress for them on a day to day basis is work. This is less than desirable.
After all, the average person works for eight hours a day, five days a week. That’s a whole lot of time that we spend in this environment and if you feel constant stress during this time, you’re bound to start experiencing some negative health repercussions.
Rather than accepting that “work is stressful”, accept that it doesn’t have to be and that it shouldn’t be. Here are a few steps that you can take to reduce your experience of stress at work.
Get your day off to the best start
So many of us will press the snooze button in the morning to get those extra z’s. But this often results in us rushing, skipping breakfast and running out the door feeling less than ready for the day.
Instead, go to bed a little earlier in the evening so that you’re getting sufficient sleep and then set your alarm well in advance of your leaving time. This will allow you to get ready at a good pace and to feel relaxed and ready to face the day ahead when you leave for work.
Be physically comfortable
Being physically uncomfortable can contribute to stress and other negative emotions. So make yourself as physically comfortable as possible at work. Stock up on snacks to keep hunger at bay throughout the day. Wear comfortable shoes that don’t pinch.
Have painkillers on you in case you need them. Pack discreet heat patches or cool patches if you’re prone to chronic pain or menstrual pain. Simple steps will make all the difference and eliminate potential stressors.
Organise your desk
When you’re feeling stressed, extraneous factors can quickly make you feel overwhelmed. Clutter and junk in your immediate surroundings are likely to further your discomfort and pique your stress levels.
So, organise your desk. Remove clutter. Organise what has to be there. Throw away rubbish. This will give you a much calmer and serene work environment and can greatly improve your mood.
Sure, stress is natural. But that doesn’t mean that you have to simply accept and deal with it in day to day scenarios. Instead, it’s really important that you do combat stress head on and find ways to overcome or resolve it.
This will significantly improve your day to day life and boost your mental and emotional wellbeing. Hopefully, some of the above advice will help you along the way!
SEE ALSO: 6 SMALL WAYS TO BE HAPPY