Stress is the body’s response to pressures or adverse conditions. We all experience stress in our daily lives. For example, at work when dealing with deadlines, at home when dealing with difficult kids, when faced with a difficult challenge, or when you just don’t feel right. The current global challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has become a source of stress to many. Dealing with stress is important for our mental well-being, and this is crucial for our physical and social functioning. So here are some top tips to help you deal with stress.
Use stress to your advantage
During times of stress, our brains release certain chemicals called hormones which are distributed to the rest of the body to help us deal with the stress. Thus, we feel our hearts racing, which increase blood flow to the rest of the body; our breaths increase, which helps to increase oxygen distribution to the body; our minds are fixed on the issues causing the stress while we have difficulty focusing on other issues. These changes occur to maximize our capacity to deal with the stress, and this is the time we are most productive. As a result, stress can be used to our advantage by enabling us utilize our greatest potentials for organizing and planning what is necessary to solve the problem. See how to become goal-oriented for more detail.
Establish a productive routine that suits you
It is essential to have a routine for our daily activities such as work, exercise, relaxation, meals, sleep and leisure. Ensure that you include something you love and spend time on things that bring you enjoy. This will help you to become more productive and accomplished. You should also take note of the activities that cause stress and try to modify, replace or eliminate them.
Regular exercise helps keep the body healthy. Studies show that exercise relieves stress and boost our mood by causing release of mood-boosting chemicals such as endorphin. This makes us feel better, mentally alert, and boost our self-esteem. You do not need to exercise every day or engage in strenuous exercises. Studies show that an average of 150 hours of exercise when spread over 3 to 5 days per week is ideal for optimal body functioning. See exercise fitness tips for more detail.
Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill can help relieve stress and improve mental well-being by boosting self-confidence, helping to connect with others and giving you a sense of purpose. For example, you can learn to play a new instrument, learn a new language, learn to cook a new delicacy, or enroll in a new course online. If you are not sure what to do, you can start by writing down your thoughts. I have personally found this very rewarding and studies also show that writing can help relieve stress, improve problem solving and improve overall health.
Spend time with others
Spending time with people you trust such as friends, family or colleagues, can help relieve stress and maintain our mental well-being. You can spend time with others by being involved in activities with them such as games, discussions, leisure activities and chores, or by sharing your moments and challenges with them. Do not think that talking to someone is a sign of weakness. Talking to someone and being listened to, can help you to feel better during times of stress. You can also spend time with others by volunteering in the community, joining social groups or chart groups. Studies have shown that those who have such social networks live longer and deal with stress better than those who do not.
Relaxation and rest
Relaxation help us relieve stress and restore our body functions. Getting adequate sleep is essential for replenishing our brain cells and body systems. Therefore, take a break from that situation and relax with some music, laughter or other forms of entertainment. When you go back to it, you will have a renewed state of mind and see things from a different perspective. In addition, studies show that laughter can increase release of chemicals that relieve stress such as endorphins and decrease stress-causing chemicals like cortisol, thus improving mood and promoting mental health.
Good nutrition is essential for optimal body functioning. Good nutrition contains the different nutrients such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water in appropriate amounts. For example, a diet rich in fiber and low in fats is ideal for maintaining optimal body functioning. Such nutrients replenish the nervous system, improve mood and promote mental health. See nutrition tips for more detail.
Reduce alcohol and other psychoactive substances
Alcohol and other psychoactive substances ultimately cause alteration of the brain functioning which may sometimes be irreversible. Other psychoactive substances include recreational drugs like nicotine, caffeine, cannabis (in some environments). You should limit consumption of these substances as they can affect the normal functioning of the brain and can cause dependence during stress and when taken to influence mood.
Mindfulness means paying attention to the present and to the little things around you. You can be mindful by bringing your thoughts, feelings and attention to the world around you, such as the sound of birds chirping, the sound of the shower, or the presence of the sofa. Meditation and yoga are other forms of mindfulness. This helps us appreciate the things we take for granted, align our thoughts, and help reduce stress. Being mindful also helps us ward off negative emotions or negative experiences.
Studies show that giving help to others can relieve stress and improve mental health by making us feel better and improving our self-esteem. Providing help can be in various forms such as volunteering, assisting a neighbour or colleague, and donating to charity.
Being optimistic about life makes our brains to release certain chemicals that boost our mood, thereby improving our mental health. This means seeing a positive side to any citation, for example seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. Studies show that the way we think about ourselves affect how we feel and this in turn affect our productivity. So look at the bright side and be thankful for any little achievements.
Keeping a pet
Studies have shown that keeping a pet can help boost our moods, relieve stress and anxiety, thereby improving our mental health. Those who own pets already know the physical and emotional benefits derived from it. If you do not have a pet, you can visit the neighbour or friend who owns a pet or volunteer in a pet home.
If you still feel excessive stress or unwell after trying these tips, please it may be time to seek help, such as consulting your physician. This does not mean you have a mental illness, but it means you may require more therapy to deal with the current situation. We all have varying threshold for dealing with physical or mental situations. Dealing with stress or seeking help is essential for maintaining mental well-being and preventing serious consequences.
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