- Stress Management Activities
- What Now?
Stress is a part of life and inevitable. For most people, stress is bad and can lead to depression and anxiety if not properly handled. This is where stress management activities are helpful.
For some people, stress is nothing more than just a spice of life and when handled accordingly, it does not affect negatively. Instead, this can lead to new opportunities that can make life better.
Well, the latter seems to be very difficult to achieve, right? Wrong! I’ve learned this technique from Kelly McGonigal, an author of several books on stress and willpower who also speak at TED Talks with a topic “How To Make Stress Your Friend?“.
Strange, right? But I want you to watch the video… and after watching we’ll move on.
You may not agree with her, but take a second to pause and give thoughts on how stress can make you healthier? Hmmm… now even more, weirder. So, just watch the video and you’ll see.
Stress is really bad if you don’t handle it appropriately. It does not mingle with your sexual life harmoniously.
Stress Management Activities
Stress is inevitable, but handling stress appropriately can bring desirable results in life instead of nightmares. These stress management activities naturally relieve and dissipate stress. It keeps stress at a minimum without negatively impacting health and well-being.
With that in mind, here are a few stress management activities that are helpful during stressful situations. Do one of these, or a combination of these stress management activities regularly.
At the end of the day, you’ll find yourself handling stress with poise and ease. Highly successful people particularly business people are doing these activities. This is the reason they’re confident in handling any stressful situation whether personal or business matters.
1. Do Regular Exercise
Exercise is free, boost brain functions, safe and naturally potent antidote to anxiety and depression.
Doing regular exercises have instant and long-term positive effects on stress as it provides a healthier feeling, and boost self-esteem. Experts suggest, one of the major consequences of stress and anxiety is an illness.
One can feel worried about money, and other numerous reasons, but when it reaches to a stressful point, it can lead to illness. When you’re physically fit and healthy including mentally strong, all these worries can dissipate easily.
You don’t need a regular gym membership to exercise. Do it at home if you don’t feel like going outside.
Use body weight, high-intensity interval training, or if you don’t have any idea how to start exercising, read this page to learn more about short full body workouts using bodyweight.
In YouTube, you’ll find a lot there. Most of those exercises are complete and free. Hence, there’s no reason not to workout regularly. After all, sedentary especially excessive long hours of sitting has been linked to unhealthy consequences.
2. Utilize 21-Minute Therapy
It takes about 21 minutes for exercise to effectively reduce stress or anxiety based on studies conducted.
Here’s a tip, if you feel anxious and stressed about something you don’t know how to handle, and it seems the world is falling on you, hop on the treadmill and run.
If you don’t have a treadmill put on your shoes and run outdoors. Once you start sweating, it feels a lot lighter, and after 21 minutes of doing the exercises, or make it 30 minutes, observe and compare how you feel before the exercise and after.
Certainly, you have this feeling of calmness, and if you take it as a positive compliment, something might pop up in your mind whether it’s an information or direct solution to what’s stressing you out.
This is the power of exercise. If you are not exercising, right now… try it. Experts in running told in an interview, running is a least prescribed antidepressant.
Start exercising today and step up your heart rate. If you’re in the office, take the stairs instead of the elevators. You could be sweating, but you’ll definitely be feeling relieved. Even brisk walking is considered a good exercise.
3. Deep Breathing Exercise and Routine
Inhale, exhale!!! Yes, the type breathing employed in both meditation and yoga are very helpful and effective in lowering stress and anxiety level.
This is one of the simplest among the stress management activities. Although beginners may find it difficult. But with practice, it will be effortless after a few tries.
Best-selling book “Spontaneous Happiness“ written by Andrew Weil, MD… he introduced a classic technique used in Yoga known as 4-7-8 breath.
This breathing technique works because a person cannot breathe deeply while feeling anxious at the same time. If you’re skeptical on this, you better try it yourself.
I’ve embedded Andrew Weil’s demonstration on how to do the breathing technique he recommended.
It’s very basic, and simple to do. Inhale through your nose while counting up to 4 counts, then hold it for 7 seconds, and slowly exhale it through your month counting up to 8 counts.
You can repeat the process up to few minutes at a time, and repeat the entire process twice a day. When I first started doing this, I can only do it a few times, but through constant practice, I can do it up to 10 minutes, pause for a few minutes and do it again for 5 to 10 minutes until I can reach a total of 30 minutes.
I do it twice per day and sometimes 3 or 4 times. Once it becomes habitually, it’s easy to do, you just have to practice it initially.
4. Quickly Eat Something
According to Dr. Ramsey author of the book “The Happiness Diet“, it’s very common to majority of people to feel anxious when hungry.
He added, during the feeling of anxiety, it could mean the blood sugar is dropping and one way to get back on track is through quick snacks.
Diet has a long-term effect of anxiety, but it’s important to choose healthier kinds of snacks including but not limited to a small piece of dark chocolate, a glass of water for hydration purposes, nuts including walnuts and cashew nuts both are good source of Magnesium.
Basically, maintain eating snacks that are whole foods including plant-based dieting along with carefully selected sea foods and meat, green leafy veggies for folate source like kale that also contains phytonutrients helpful in reducing anxiety.
In other words, always eat and snack on foods that have proper nutrients and avoid highly processed foods.
5. Eat Healthy and Well-Balanced Breakfast
Again, let me mention Dr. Ramsey of The Happiness Diet as he recommends not to starve yourself as most people who suffer from anxiety disorders skipped eating breakfast. But is skipping breakfast really that bad? Maybe when food choices are right.
Lack or low levels of choline is linked with increased level of anxiety.
From time to time, you can do intermittent fasting, but don’t forget to include healthy fats in your drinks in the morning like coffee, or tea blended with unsalted butter, coconut oil, and cinnamon powder, but without sugar.
Make your breakfast sugar-free, and avoid processed carbohydrates as this makes you hungry early even if it’s not yet time for the next meal.
6. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Your Diet
Oils for fats from fishes are heart-friendly, and perhaps helpful in protection against depression and anxiety.
A study conducted on students who were given 2.5mg of mixed Omega-3 fatty acids per day for a period of 12 weeks experience less anxiety prior to an exam compare to students who were instructed to take a placebo.
Health experts including doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians recommend to eat Omega-3 from any foods possible, but it can be found rich on fishes like tuna, salmon, sardines, and halibut.
There are also fish oil supplements with Omega-3 available, but in my personal opinion and experience, if you can get it through natural and whole foods, do so rather than relying on supplements.
7. Avoid Catastrophic Thinking
When a person is under panic or anxiety attack, thinking catastrophically is a very common occurrence.
Quickly, the mind switches into terrible and horrifying thinking about things that might happen. For instance, a person under pressured or stressed would think or say “My God! If this could happen, it can ruin my life entirely!” Others are even swearing when they get stressed.
Fortunately, swearing according to science is not bad at all, and it has some benefits.
However, there is a more effective way of reacting to a stressful situation like doing deep breathing, taking a short walk around the block, and perhaps consider thinking the other way that things won’t happen as you think, but go as planned. Most of the time, what we think and worry are 99% won’t happen.
So, think positive and be optimistic instead, and stop thinking catastrophically.
8. Take A Hot Bath
I know there are huge benefits on taking cold showers, but if you’re stressed, it might be a good idea to switch to a hot shower or go for sauna as it heat can help relax the muscles in the entire body.
If you can’t go to a sauna, enjoy the bathtub, instead if you have one. A warmth sensations may alter certain neural circuits that control mood such as those affecting serotonin, a neurotransmitter.
9. Forest Bath
The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku. This particular remedy has been observed by Japanese researchers as they measured body changes on individuals who took a 20-minute walk into the woods within a beautiful forest with sounds of streaming water and smells of fresh leaves from the trees.
Forest bath does not necessarily mean you have to take a bath, but experience and connect with nature. People who are doing forest baths more often have lower stress hormone after taking a short walk into the woods compare to people who are in the urban areas.
10. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Buddhist originally practice mindfulness meditation, but nowadays it is a mainstream form of therapy for people suffering from anxiety disorders.
Hopefully, this list of stress management activities could provide you a good starting point. You don’t have to start with the first one but begin with anyone of these.
The best thing is to get started. Take action on it and do any of these stress management activities. Once you make a habit of doing one thing, you can begin doing another.
Soon, you’ll be able to do a combination of these stress management activities with ease and able to maintain stress very minimally.