There are various types of stress that people are subject to throughout different periods of life. Long-term, acute, and low-grade stress can take a toll on a person, so it’s crucial to find effective ways to cope with stress to avoid negative impacts. Too much stress can lead to a higher risk of illness and disease, including depression, heart disease, stroke, and premature death. Recognizing the warning signals can enable you to cope with stress and avoid adverse outcomes.
Ways of Coping with Stress and Anxiety
If you find that you are facing feelings of stress and tension, it’s vital to take action and come up with a personal stress management plan. Ignoring stress rather than coping with it can lead to several poor outcomes, including:
- Poor sleep that lasts for extended periods
- Severe headaches
- Loss of interests in activities
- Obsessive thinking and worrying
- Weight gain or loss
- Anger and irritability
- Feelings of isolation and withdrawal
- Decrease in self-esteem
- Alcohol and substance abuse issues
- Lack of concentration
If you think you may be struggling with these effects of stress, there are ways of coping with stress and anxiety that can alleviate some of these symptoms.
1. Adjust Work-Life Balance
Sometimes people experience stress because they face a daunting work schedule or professional obligations. Re-balancing your work and personal schedules can help relieve some pressure. If you find that you are working long hours consistently, be sure to work in personal time and relaxation to your workweek. Consider limiting the hours you work each day.
Set a time each evening where you shut down your computer and shut off your phone. If you work from home, set up an office space that allows you to separate work from personal activities. At your selected time each evening, you can physically leave the office, which signals to your brain that it can shut off from work affairs for the time being.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can be an effective stress management mechanism. When you move your body regularly, it can help re-balance your nervous system, increase blood circulation, and provide healthy endorphins. It also helps to flush out stress hormones, so you feel more at ease. Even if you are pressed for time, adding a short, 15- to 20-minute walk to your day can make a big difference in relieving stress.
3. Improve Nutrition
When your body is well-nourished, it has an easier time combating stress. Improving your nutrition can be an excellent first step in coping with stress and anxiety. Simple changes can make a big difference. Consider adding more organic fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, and avoiding sugar and processed foods.
Some foods are especially good for battling stress and related symptoms, including vitamin C, Magnesium, complex carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, and more.
4. Engage in a Hobby
Setting aside time for the things you enjoy goes a long way in helping you minimize stress and anxiety. Schedule time to participate in a hobby you love each week. Whether it’s reading, gardening, playing an instrument, writing, or some other outlet, engaging in a hobby can boost feelings of joy. Research indicates that engaging in things we enjoy can reduce stress by nearly half and also contributes to a lower heart rate.
5. Limit Alcohol Intake
Some people turn to alcohol as a way to relieve stress. While it may seem like a good option on the surface, alcohol intake may have the opposite effect. Alcohol in moderation is not bad, but some people who indulge regularly may build a tolerance to the effects of alcohol, making it increasingly difficult to cope with stress and anxiety. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause negative mental and physical consequences that could make stress worse.
6. Find Outside Help
Sometimes, the best tactic for stress management is to contact a therapist or counselor who can help you manage overwhelming thoughts and implement effective changes. If you find that stress and anxiety are becoming an overwhelming factor in your life, it may be the right time to seek professional help. Consider making an appointment to speak with someone, at a minimum.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most essential factors in stress management. People who get less than seven hours of sleep — an amount considered inadequate — have a more challenging time tolerating stress and anxiety. Getting the right amount of sleep ensures that your body and mind stay healthy and up to the various challenges each day may throw your way.
When you understand what’s happening inside your mind and body during stressful times, you can learn and implement ways to cope with stress and overcome anxiety’s negative side effects.