If you are living in the United States, it might be fair to say that we have been living in a stressful state in recent months. With the ongoing pandemic, the presidential election and the economy, many people have been feeling increased levels of stress and anxiety. Quarantine and isolation have intensified the situation, making many people feel even more alone in their anxiety.
Have you been feeling more anxious than usual? Do you have feelings of overwhelm that you just can’t shake? Do you know how to manage your stress effectively so you can function in a healthy and happy way?
What is Stress?
Stress is a behavioral, emotion or psychological response to an imbalance in a person’s life. The imbalance can take many forms, from lack of a work-life balance to being pulled in too many directions. It can be impacted by one’s ability to take care of their physical and emotional health for extended periods of time and can result in noticeable ailments. Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress include:
- Poor sleep or too much sleep
- Fluctuations in weight
- Stomach and digestive issues
- Emotional irritability
- Tension in the face, neck or shoulders
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Panic attacks
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Compulsive behaviors
- Inability to focus
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Increase in alcohol or drug consumption
25 Ways to Manage Your Stress
Managing your stress is critical for many reasons. High tension and strain can have serious implications for your health, relationships and overall well-being. The first step is to identify your stressors. Then, you can choose the best stress management techniques for you. The following 25 ideas are relatively simple, but can have a big impact on your stress levels.
If your stress and anxiety feels severe, intensifying or seriously impacts your daily life, seek the help of a qualified therapist, doctor or health care professional right away.
- Get active by walking, running or taking an online HIIT class.
- Take calming supplements such as ashwagandha or green tea. Be sure to consult with your doctor first.
- Diffuse essential oils like lavender, sandalwood and frankincense for their calming effects.
- Reduce caffeine consumption. Caffeine can increase your heart rate and boost anxiety.
- Start a journal or free-write to express your feelings.
- Connect with a friend on Zoom, the telephone or on a walk.
- Laughter is scientifically proven to help you relax and reduce stress. Watch a funny movie or check out a favorite comedian on YouTube.
- Be sure to get enough sleep every night.
- Reduce some of your non-essential responsibilities. Removing these things from your schedule will give you more time to decompress.
- Schedule your day in advance so you feel prepared when you wake up in the morning.
- Practice yoga online or look for free classes in your community.
- Use breathing exercises to clear your mind and calm your heart rate when feeling anxious.
- Try meditation! There are many free apps that have extensive libraries of guided meditations and relaxing music.
- Cuddling with a loved one or your furry friend can be calming and comforting.
- Listen to music that makes you feel good. A favorite band, nostalgic high school tunes or ambient grooves can have a calming and positive impact on your mood.
- Venture outside to enjoy the wonders of nature and get some fresh air.
- Get creative by drawing, painting or learning a new craft. Crafting can be meditative.
- Make a healthy meal with fresh vegetables and high-quality ingredients to nourish your body and soul.
- Use the power of positive affirmations to get you through a particularly challenging day.
- Get off social media. Social media can make feelings of anxiety and isolation more pronounced.
- Take a break by going on a mini road trip, daytrip or weekend trip. A change of scenery can work wonders for your mood.
- Do a puzzle to zone out and focus on successfully completing a task.
- Take a warm bath and make it luxurious by including candles, calm music and fancy soaps.
- Practice visualizations that are calming and reassuring.
- Talk to someone. A therapist, doctor or even a trusted friend can give you the support and strategies you need to help you get through a hard time.