Best 3 Ways to Reduce Stress
Since the beginning of time humanity has experienced stressors. Our nervous systems are specifically designed to perceive threats and respond. This can be healthy and good in situations where our built-in alert system protects us. However, as our world has grown, so has our exposure to perceived threats. Stressors are more frequent and it is more difficult to disengage from them. As a result, many of us stay in a heightened state of stress which takes a toll on our minds and bodies. Therefore, we must be more vigilant in our commitment to manage and even reduce our stress levels. Let’s discuss 3 ways to reduce stress that we can all fit into our routine in order to improve our wellness.
1. Talk to someone
One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is simply to talk with someone. The right person can help you feel better and take your mind off of problems. However, it's important that you choose who you talk to carefully. If possible, try talking with a friend or family member first. They may not be able to solve your problem but they can still listen and help you feel heard which is often all we need when we're stressed out.
However, if talking with friends doesn't seem like an option (perhaps because no one understands what you're going through) then consider seeking out other professionals such as counselors or therapists who have experience dealing with the feelings that you’re experiencing. Psychology Today provides a comprehensive list of mental health professionals, including their specialties, in your area along with their contact information so that you can easily connect with them and schedule some time to talk. They even offer a list of providers here in the Virgin Islands.
2. Move your body
Movement is another great way to reduce stress. It doesn’t have to be the kind of rigorous workout that leaves you sweating and breathless, either—even simple activities like dancing, walking, or gardening can help your body relax. Movement releases endorphins into your bloodstream (the chemicals responsible for feelings of happiness). It also helps you clear your mind and focus on something other than work, family tensions, or whatever else is stressing you out. In fact, studies have found that people with higher levels of physical activity report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression!
If you don't already move regularly, consider setting a goal for yourself—whether this means working out a few times per week or just taking five minutes each morning before work to go on a brief walk around the block. Midday dance breaks count too! You'll feel better when those endorphins kick in and you might be surprised how much easier it is to tackle stressful moments after a good sweat session. If you live by your calendar schedule these time blocks as a part of your day. If you’re a checklist person, include your movement goals in your to do list. Commitments to yourself are just as important as commitments that you make to anyone else and it is important to treat them as such.
3. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is an important part of good health. If you're not sleeping enough, it can cause stress, make your body feel uncomfortable and weak, and affect your mood. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Check out our recent blog, 3 Benefits of Getting Adequate Sleep, for more information on the importance of sleep for stress management and our overall wellness.
Reducing stress will look different for everyone, but if you can implement a few small changes into your routine to help mitigate the buildup of stress, you’ll notice an overall improvement in your happiness, focus, and well-being. Remember, small steps and small changes are key to improvement that doesn't overwhelm. There’s no need to go get a gym membership and try to fit a whole new routine into your schedule if that isn’t realistic for you. In fact, that would likely cause more stress. Instead, pick a few small things that you can do. For example, check in with a friend or family member once a week while you drive to the store. Walk around the neighborhood with your pet or spouse after dinner; or set a bedtime routine that helps you drift off for a good night of rest. These small changes can make the biggest difference without adding much to your existing routine.