Many of us find that our lives are becoming increasingly complicated and stressful. Following are some strategies to combat stress and allow you to Enjoy Life More. After all, isn't that what life is all about?
Please explore the numerous stress-reducing strategies and exercises on our Mindfulness page. In addition, here are some research-based strategies that produce many health benefits including:
- inhibiting stress related illness through immune system enhancement
- minimizing mental distress including anxiety, depression and rage
- managing chronic pain
- increasing motivation and the ability to perform under pressure
- fostering self-confidence & positive self-esteem
Accept the moment as it is
This prevents you from launching into the litany of "shoulds" that can cause stress and helps you problem solve from the perspective of what is actually happening vs. what you would like to be happening.
Plan ahead to remain calm
Use deep breathing as you picture yourself managing a typically stressful situation in a relaxed manner.
Be in charge of your body's stress reactions
Learn to recognize and release tension in your body. Practice yoga, meditation and breathing techniques to calm your body and mind. Listen to relaxation CDs, guided relaxation, guided imagery, or make your own recording.
Plan to keep track of what you eat for three days. Read the Canada Food Guide for healthy nutrition. Compare to your food intake and decide what changes you want to make.
Learn Stress Reduction Techniques
Learn more about Mindful Relaxation, Breathing Techniques, Use of Imagery, and Body excercises such as body scans, progressive muscle relaxation and shoulders and neck relaxation and much more.
Dance, run, skip, walk!
Regular exercise releases endorphins, our "feel good" hormones. Stretch your body to eliminate pent-up tension.
Listening to music can soothe and relax you. Singing can really lift your mood! The shower and car are good options for people who think their singing will cause others stress.
Cultivate a hobby
Whether it be gardening, stamp-collecting, reading, cooking or any other healthy activity, hobbies add value to our lives and take us away from stresses.
Lighten up a stressful situation. Watch a funny movie, read a funny book or laugh with your friends.
Spend time in nature
Research says that even gazing out the window at a garden plot or looking at a photo of a natural setting can reduce stress! If you can walk in nature, all the better. But you don't need to go to a forest, even strolling along a tree lined street or through a small park will do.
Talk to yourself
Instruct yourself to not get hot and bothered about the situation. Tell yourself to calm down, relax, let go. Challenge negative thoughts.
Speak up for yourself!
Allowing frustration and anger to fester is very stressful for your body. Think about enrolling in assertiveness training if this is hard for you.
A few whiffs of scents like lavender, rose and green apple can help tame tension and produce a feeling of calm.
Have a hot cup of herbal tea
Chamomile and mint can be especially calming.
Let go of having a perfect life
Not everything is going to work out perfectly, no matter how hard you want it to.
Find time to play!
Many adults have forgotten how to play. Play is active engagement in something you enjoy. It's not just for kids
Make time to connect with friends
Organize time to spend with old friends and allow time to make new friends.
Talk to a therapist, counselor or spiritual advisor
It can help restore a feeling of control when situations are overwhelming.
Get in touch with your creativity
There are a variety of ways to banish the blues through artistic expression - paint, draw, make a collage, take photos or pound clay! The important thing is to externalize thoughts and feelings causing you stress.
Write your thoughts and feelings in a daily journal
Related health benefits of journaling include lowering levels of stress hormones, decreasing use of sick days, boosting immune function, and increasing the ability to handle adversity and adjust to change.
Change your environment
Lower the lights, turn on calming music and open the curtains to let the sunshine in.
Take a mini-break
Close your eyes, and take three deep breaths while imagining yourself in a peaceful place, e.g., in a garden, field of wild flowers, on a beach, etc.
When we accept that change is inevitable it helps us be more flexible (and less stressed) when it happens.
Take a bath in water that is close to skin temperature
This is called a "sedative bath" or "neutral bath" and is documented to relieve tension. For muscle soreness or tightness, experts recommend a higher water temperature, but not too hot. You should be able to easily enter the water.
Research says there is a powerful link between facial expression and emotion.
( adapated from Jennifer Pearson, ResilienC, Spring 2008)
Sponsored by the Government of Manitoba, Department of Healthy Living.
© 2009-2011 Klinic Community Health Centre • Winnipeg Manitoba Canada