Article via Organic Titanic
How To Manage Stress For Free
Stress: it’s inevitable!
Even planning a vacation creates stress. Sure, we can try to minimize stress by cutting out stressful people from our lives or switching jobs. But stress is a part of life.
You can’t run from it, so it’s probably best to just figure out ways to manage stress as efficiently as possible.
MAKE A LIST
Feel like you have a million things to do? Feel like they’ll never get done? Do you get discouraged to the point where you end up doing nothing?
Stop what you’re doing right now. Grab a notepad and write down everything you’re feeling stressed about.
Once you get that done, look over the list. Suddenly your seemingly infinite problems are sitting right there in front of you– in the form of a to-do-list!
Writing down problems makes them more tangible. It makes them easier to tackle.
Still feeling stressed? Buy a planner! Don’t use the phone-apps. Buy a physical planner where you can schedule your time and look at your whole day (or week, or month) right in front of you.
Are some problems too big to simply schedule in one day? Schedule the first step, then the next, then the next.
Physical activity is scientifically proven to not only reduce stress but help manage depression and anxiety.
Physical activity first of all helps relieve physical tension in your body which in itself helps reduce stress.
Remember, physical stress and mental stress are codependent on one another. Physical tension creates mental stress, and mental stress creates physical tension– it’s a vicious cycle.
But that’s not all, physical activity also makes your body produce endorphins– your natural painkillers– which can help improve sleep. Sleep quality is directly tied to anxiety and mental stress.
The endorphins released during moderate exercise can also help stabilize your energy levels and mood– making it one of many great ways to manage stress!
STRETCHING AND YOGA
According to the Harvard Medical Association, yoga is proven to be pretty effective in managing stress as well as certain types of chronic physical pain.
Studies have shown that yoga and stretching not only reduced anxiety in the short-term, but helps your body better adapt to stress– including your heart!
A dedicated yoga practice literally helps keep you physically and mentally balanced. This makes it easier for you to tackle stressful situations head-on as they arise.
Yoga also helps regulate breathing and has shown to be beneficial even in patients going through acute alcohol withdrawal. (Please don’t self-remedy at home for acute alcohol withdrawal– you could die!)
Once again, according to the Harvard Medical Association, meditation can be very successful for regulating mood, stress, and improving sleep.
As Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School writes, “people with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”
I feel like the quote above would hit home for many people suffering from anxiety: the weight of the world is on your shoulders, your problems are infinite, why bother solving any?
Mindfulness meditation can help you to distinguish which problems are your responsibility to solve, and which are completely out of your control.
“If you have unproductive worries,” says Dr. Hoge, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” says Dr. Hoge.
If your anxiety is overwhelming and you feel hopeless, I wouldn’t discourage you from talking to a doctor. But if you aren’t quite ready to take medications for your mental health, I would strongly encourage you to start developing a meditation practice– it might just save your life and is one of many great ways to manage stress.
TALK TO SOMEONE
This kind of goes back to the same reasoning as “write it down.” But sometimes even if we write our problems down we still feel alone and isolated.
Don’t unload your problems on someone who is going to judge you or knows too much about your personal life.
Coworkers are great as third-party listeners for venting in small amounts.
If talking to your coworkers or family isn’t a reasonable idea, go online! There’s tons of groups on Reddit and Facebook for all kinds of topics and support. Plus these people don’t know anything about you! They have no reason to lie or give you bad advice.
Just vocalizing the things that are bothering you will make them seem more tangible or finite.
LISTEN TO MUSIC OR A PODCAST
If you needed another reason, incorporating music into your life is proven to help reduce stress. Certain types of music can also help lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and discourage production of stress hormones such as cortisol.
Sometimes though, if I’m feeling particularly stressed, music just doesn’t do the trick. Sure it sounds nice, but I get bored easily and my mind might still have the tendency to wander. Enter radio shows.
Any lapse in thinking that is normally filled by anxious thoughts suddenly gets filled by the words in a podcast.
Whatever your interests are– video games, sports, history, current events, comedy, TV– there’s a podcast for that. Just search on Soundcloud or YouTube for some keywords and boom– infinite listening!
This article first appeared on OrganicTitanic.com and was authored by Randi Nord.