Life is never void of different pressures. The desire to earn a living, live up to standard, experience life progress, achieve long term goals, and meet up with different financial expectations. These pursuits often result in sleepless nights, an unquenchable thirst for change, high self-imposed demand, and acute stress.
Accumulated pressures generated from the inability to provide resources capable of matching the demand often result in extreme stress. The effect of stress is far-reaching. Stress often leads to anxiety, heart problems, and other serious health conditions. It also has grievous emotional effects by damaging relationships and triggering people to making hasty decisions.
Major Factors Responsible for 70 Percent of Stress
A report released by the American Psychological Association observes that one in three Americans is faced with extreme stress. The report confirmed that more than 70percent of people reported that money and their job constituted their major reasons for stress, while a quarter of the participants reported feelings of isolation due to stress.
Heart-related issues have also become the leading cause of death in America, while extreme stress becomes the biggest cause of heart problems. While some stress can have positive effects, Americans face an extreme level of stress daily.
With the debilitating effect of stress, managing stress becomes a none negotiable activity. Although stress can be controlled through the use of some prescribed drugs, it is often better to adopt simple and natural ways of managing stress.
Here are some proven, simple and natural ways to managing stress.
Prof. Matthew Walker opens the seventh chapter of his book “Why we sleep” with the following illustration:
“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, reduces your stress, and makes you more creative. It makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off cold and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”
Rather than fight off the scientifically researched deduction by labeling it as excessive, it’s best to understand that the most effective natural way of managing stress is by having a deep sleep. Extreme stress causes a bad sleeping habit, while good sleep strengthens you to manage the daily stress effectively. Stress and sleep are tightly knitted activities. Too much stress denies you better sleep, which could weaken your immune system and become a gateway to other illnesses.
In managing stress, sleep can’t be a second option. Be deliberate about managing stress, take a break and sleep if the need arises during the day. Irrespective of the volume of work, consider managing stress with over six hours of sleep at night. Don’t ignore the opportunity to sleep during leisure if the need arises. Consider sleeping as the first option for any stress-related symptoms or body reactions. Sleeping is the most natural and simple way of managing stress.
2. Choose water over caffeine and alcohol
Water doesn’t pay your bills or ease off your daily pressures at work. The one thing it does effectively is to keep you hydrated, an activity that affects your physical and mental health and has been proven as a tool in managing stress. Though many people consider caffeine as the escape root from stress and pressures, scientific research has proven otherwise.
Caffeine obstructs the body from producing adenosine, altering the sleep process and triggering an increase in energy levels. The most consumed drug in the United States(caffeine) also increases the cortisol level, the same level of chemical increased by excess stress. If you’ve been managing stress with alcohol, you may have been solving problems with a bigger problem. On the contrary, a 2016 report by the Cambridge University found that water doesn’t just maintain body temperature. It is very effective in the functioning of over 70% of the body’s organs. The report also established that water regulates our mood and is an effective tool in managing stress.
Besides, research by the University of Connecticut found that even a low dehydration level triggers negative reactions such as anger, anxiety, tension, and fatigue. The effectiveness of water in managing stress is often understated due to its less obvious effects like alcohol and other natural drugs. However, water is just as important as any other drug or method in managing stress effectively.
Also, avoid smoking or adopting negative methods for managing stress. It further compounds the problem and creates more serious health issues.
Research published by Dr. Timothy Legg found that about 20% of people find drinking alcohol as an effective managing stress method. The research established that though alcohol is a sedative that can temporarily take you off your worries and stress. However, the research found that the body can tolerate the de-stressing effect of alcohol, which leads to a more chronic form of stress.
In addition, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 7% of Americans live with an alcohol-induced form of anxiety. Alcohol and smoking are negative ways of managing stress. Replace alcohol with water, and you’ll be managing stress better.
3. Be deliberate with your choices
The president of America’s institute of stress and psychiatry at the New York medical college, Paul Rosch, observed that life is incomplete without stress. The danger then is in maintaining control over stress and creating an effective method of managing stress.
In addition, choosing an environment to chase your goals can be as effective as any other method you adopt in managing stress. A hostile environment to pursue your goals makes you grow weary and adopt stress as a lifestyle. Your environment is then determined by the people who occupy such a sphere.
Everyone desires to enjoy a life aside from work. In reality, there is a very limited possibility that such a life is possible. If it is, the reality is that most of our lives are spent in the pursuit of our goals. Most of your time will be spent in the company of bosses and work colleagues. If you choose a path of interest, every day will be a new opportunity to explore, loaded with smiles and the quest for discovery.
However, if you find yourself on a coincidental path, learning becomes an expression of hostility, kind gestures become misinterpreted, stress assembles and become a lifestyle, and your health struggles.
If you want to be involved in managing stress or want a stress-reduced life, be deliberate about the choices you make: your choice of career, partner, and institutions. Ward off people’s influence or perceptions from your decisions, steer clear of regrets and worries, and you’ll realize you’re managing stress effectively.
4. Set simple goals
It’s okay to get drunk by those motivational and encouraging words that instruct you to dream big and see the bigger picture. The less emphasized point is how relevant, simple and realistic your goals have to be.
If you adopt a long list of methods of managing stress without reducing your long term goals to effective short term plans, frustration is inevitable.
Highlight your goals with consideration to the resources at your disposal. Sadness is a fertile ground for stress, and maintaining a balanced mood by being happy with yourself may be important. Stress is often induced by thoughts of insufficiency, incapabilities, and unfulfillment. Setting simple goals is a simple way of managing stress and eliminating factors that could trigger stress.
5. Eat healthy diets
A balanced diet is crucial to effectively managing stress levels. Every healthy meal strengthens your immune system and increases the body’s ability to regulate stress and fight off diseases. A high intake of proteins helps in managing stress levels.
Also, skipping a meal weakens your immune system and hinders your body from fighting off weakness. Avoid sugar-rich snacks or meals to keep your body healthy.
In managing stress with your diet effectively, normalize taking vegetables and replace snacks with fruits. The Vitamin C produced by these fruits limits the increase of hormones that produces stress in the body.
However, in managing stress, eating in a highly stressed state doesn’t help. It complicates the digestive process and could prevent you from sleeping. In a highly stressed state, sleeping and placing yourself in a resting position could be a better resort. Nevertheless, maintaining a stable and healthy eating habit is effective in managing stress.
You’ve probably read of the numerous benefits of exercise but still find it difficult creating time out of a busy schedule. Well! There’s no bargain about limiting stress without exercise.
Exercise produces endorphins, which makes you feel relieved. According to J. Kip Matthews, a sport psychologist,
“Endorphins are natural reward circuits related to activities such as feeding, drinking, sexual activities, and maternal behavior.” Endorphins ignite a sense of pleasure that helps in managing stress effectively.
Exercise takes your attention off your busy schedules, daily worries and empowers your immune system to fight off stress. Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, athletic, and lengthy. A short walk out after a stress-filled day at work, a heated argument, or other stress-induced activities.
You may have to draw up a new routine in managing stress. Take your activities down in a diary and include a short exercise that fits your schedule. A 20-minute walk, yoga, and other less engaging physical and emotional exercises can help reduce your stress level. In selecting your choice of exercise, consider interest as a priority.
Interest in a particular form of exercise determines consistency. Replace the time spent with alcohol with exercise and discover an effective method of managing stress.
Aside from being useful in managing different types of illnesses like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and asthma, exercise is also an effective way of managing stress.
7. Time out with friends
Talking to a friend is a highly underrated activity. It’s an avenue to communicate your stress. Taking time off to enjoy the company of friends creates a platform to share your concerns and worries whose accumulation results in extreme stress. TIME quoted a 2019 study published in the PLOS one magazine.” The research found that the strength of a person’s social circle — as measured by inbound and outbound cell phone activity — was a better predictor of self-related stress, happiness, and wellbeing levels than fitness tracker data on physical activity, heart rate, and sleep”.
Spending time and sharing thoughts with friends is a highly believing activity that eases off the accumulated stress from work or any other pressures. Despite its usefulness, very few Americans allocate very few minutes to time out with friends. Others rarely spend time with friends and barely have time for their families.
A 2020 research conducted by the United States Department of Labor found that an average American spends just 29 minutes socializing during weekdays while they spend about 58 minutes with friends on weekend days. Undoubtedly, the very little time spent with friends has a corresponding negative effect on the 70% of Americans who have reported living with stress.
In addition, withdrawing into isolation is not an effective way of managing stress. Understandably, switching off your phones to rest, staying off the social media and its hostilities, or staying off your phone mails to have a better sleep could be a great idea. However, withdrawing into isolation may cause stress to degenerate into depression.
Create time for your friends and prioritize taking time out with them. It has been scientifically established as a way of managing stress.
8. Laugh deeply
A report published by the HSE reveals that out of over 1 million cases of reported work-related illness, over 400 thousand cases were related to work stress. The high rate of work-related stress may be emotional as much as physical. A survey conducted by Gallup found that only 15% of the 1 billion workers population across the world are happy with their jobs. 85% are unhappy and find themselves doing a job that they aren’t genuinely interested in. The survey attributes the reason for the high rate of unhappy workers to a bad relationship with the boss, bad relationship with colleagues, and interest. The common effect of all these factors is that happiness is deprived, and stress becomes inevitable.
The quest for a dream job or a job of interest in a suitable location of interest can often result in a more depressed state. It is the reason why a good number of people are engaged in a particular activity.
Laughter stirs the endorphins that the brain produces. As earlier explained, under exercise, endorphins provide a sense of pleasure. It is a very effective and natural way of managing stress.
While more than half of Americans feel uncomfortable at work, a sense of comfort must be created as they remain effective in managing stress.
It has been scientifically established by hundreds of research that laughing strengthens the immune system. It further symbolizes and positively affects the mood. A positive mood is an important activity in managing stress.
Normalize spending a short time with comedy skits or any laughter-inducing activity. Regularly distract yourself from the worries of your job by developing an appreciable sense of humor. Develop laughter as an important character and factor in managing stress daily. Carefully reexamine your schedule and daily activities and deliberately create time for leisure.
9. Weigh every offer
Saying a “Yes” to every offer may be a sign of low self-esteem. It results in you burdening yourself with numerous activities. The end product of these numerous activities is acute stress. Multitasking, with all its widespread advantages, have serious adverse effects and contribute negatively to your health.
Research published by Stanford University found that multitaskers face more stress than those who simply channel their energy into one direction. When asked about the uniqueness of multitaskers from the researchers, Eyal Ophir and Anthony Wagner, they responded, “we kept looking for what they’re better at, and we couldn’t find it. They couldn’t help thinking about the task they were not performing”. It’s obvious that in managing stress, multitasking isn’t an option to consider.
The more activities you engage yourself by multitasking, the higher the probability of making mistakes and getting worried by them. The pressure to deliver under divided attention, the cost of making a mistake and starting over, and the more demand on your time management ability can have an adverse effect on your mental health.
Saying a No to some offers is a shred of evidence you prioritize your mental health. Keep yourself happy by regulating the activities you engage yourself in. In managing stress, you may have to quit multitasking and focus on a particular line of activity that is of interest.
There are different methods of managing stress. The uniqueness of human nature makes drawing a generalized opinion quite cumbersome. Positive and simple methods of managing stress have been outlined. Manage stress with the simple, natural, and less demanding methods provided.
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