5 Simple Ways to Cope With Stress
Stress. We all have it. We all want to get rid of it. Yet about ¾ of Americans say they have had moderate to high stress in the last month alone. Half say their stress is worst this year than it was last year.
And it so much more than just annoying or frustrating – it’s unhealthy.
Stress can bring all sorts of health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Lowered sex drive
- Stomach/digestive problems
- Lack of focus
- Overeating (or over-drinking)
But sometimes dealing with your stress feels way too stressful in and of itself. That’s why I’m here with 5 simple ways to help you deal with your stress levels and bring them back down.
I’m focusing on finding methods specifically geared to you, your personality, your likes/interests, and your lifestyle.
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That way you can calm your stress, sleep soundly through the night, and keep your body healthy for years to come.
5 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress
1. Move Your Body
Science is so clear: exercise = less stress.
But there’s a catch. Studies also show that stress “impairs efforts to be physically active.” And you probably already know this to be true. When you’re stressed, you want to sit on the couch or relax in bed, not go jogging.
But overcoming that desire and actually exercising is the only to beat the “evil cycle.” The key is to find an activity you actually like to do.
When people tell you to de-stress, they probably suggest a yoga class. I would too. They’re wonderful.
But everybody is different, which means the exercises that feels right to you and give your brain a rest may not be quintessentially “de-stressing.”
- Maybe a high-intensity kickboxing class really lets you get rid of your aggression.
- Maybe long runs give you time to clear your head.
- Maybe a dance class lets you smile your way through an hour.
- Maybe hardcore weightlifting at the gym makes you feel invincible.
- Maybe joining a local sports team gets you moving and helps you connect with more people.
- Maybe training for a challenge like Tough Mudder or a triathlon gives you something to think about other than stress.
- Or maybe going on a nature trail soothes your soul as you move your body.
The point isn’t to do one particular exercise; the point is to move your body in a way that feels good to your body and your mind.
So try all sorts of different classes and different routines until you find one or two ways of movement that you enjoy. Then make yourself do them. Keep to a regular schedule; do at least 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week.
Many people still don’t think they can do this one. They don’t feel “Zen” enough or it feels too “hippy-dippy” for them.
But meditation is actually quite simple.
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You don’t have to be a guru who can sit there for 7 hours. Meditation is just a way to allow your brain to slow down and stop running over 10,382 different problems at all times.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help anxiety and stress, and it is really, really easy to start.
Here are some basic ways to begin.
- Option 1: Set a timer for 5 minutes. Take deep, slow breaths from your belly instead of your chest. Think about the path of your breath or think about a mantra (“I am enough” or “the world is not against me” are two simple ones.) If your thoughts wander, don’t chastise yourself for it. Just bring your mind back to your breath or mantra.
- Option 2: Try a meditation app. These apps will guide you through a variety of short meditations. I just did one this morning on compassion through Stop, Breathe & Think app. This is a great option for those who want to try the de-stressing power of meditation, but just don’t know where to start.
- Option 3: Follow a YouTube video. I love this video meditation on letting go; it’s only 11 minutes:
Remember that mediation doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. You don’t need a meditation corner or new age music.
It’s simply about breathing and calming your mind. You can even do it in bed before you go to sleep.
Of course a healthy diet means a healthy body. And a healthy body means a healthy mind. So eating the right foods is essential. But we sometimes need more of a helping hand.
Instead of first reaching for a prescription medication to take away the stress and anxiety, start with all-natural herbal remedies. There are lots of options, but here are 4 of my personal favorites:
- Ashwaganda: This ayurvedic herb can actually lower stress hormones. One study showed that cortisol was reduced in a group taking 600 mg of Ashwaganda each day vs. a group that took a placebo. It has also been shown to aid those with adrenal issues.
If your stress is harming your sleep (which is so common), you can actually take these four supplements in the Eu Natural sleep aid. A combo of vitamins, minerals, and herbs can naturally help you get the calm sleep you need every night without any dependency or grogginess the next morning.
4. Step Away From The Stress
Sometimes this can feel like the hardest way to de-stress. Many times people feel entirely stuck in whatever stresses them out. But there are always ways to either remove yourself from the stress or change the stressful situation. Here are 3 common examples:
- Job Stress: You may not be able to quit your job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Apply for different jobs. Talk to your employer about ways to improve the work environment. Find ways to enjoy your work breaks/lunch breaks – can you take your food outside and enjoy the sunshine? Can you bring a book? Can you listen to a podcast by yourself?
- Family Stress: You may not be able to escape your family, but you can set up healthy boundaries. Tell your parents they are not allowed to make snarky comments about the way they raise your kids if they want to continue to have a good relationship. Tell your sister you cannot keep giving her money until she finds a job of her own.
- Money Stress: You may not be able to walk away from your debt, but you can get a handle on it. Stop spending as much money. Downsize. Refuse to add anything else to your credit card. Sell things you don’t need. Pick up an extra part-time job for a temporary time.
But some stressful thing you can step away from entirely:
- Abusive relationships
- Toxic friendships
- Too many commitments
The point here is to remove the things you can remove and change the things you can change. Once the amount of things stressing you out goes down in number, it is easier to deal with what’s left over.
5. Step Into Self Care
Dealing with stress is not just about removing stressors or changing stressful situations. It’s also about adding in self-care activities. These are great for dealing with stress in the moment, but also preventing stress from overtaking your life in the long run.
Typical self-care recommendations often include things like:
- Taking a hot bath
- Doing your nails
- Getting a massage
And these are all really nice activities that may really make you feel calmer. But self-care may feel different for you. It may look more like:
- Carving out time to do your art (music, painting, writing, etc.) each day
- Making your bed, so you come home to an oasis not chaos
- Going to bed earlier so you can get adequate rest
- Saving money so you can take regular trips
- Finding a therapist to talk to
- Speaking up for yourself
- Giving yourself permission to do something you enjoy just because you enjoy it
- Spending time in nature
- Taking yourself on a date
- Going back to school
Don’t think of taking this time for yourself as selfish. These are action steps to living a life not weighed down by stress.
Dealing With Your Stress
I know it can be hard to deal with stress. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just ignore it and numb out on junk food and TV. But we know deep down that is not the answer. We have to do something about it.
But remember dealing with stress does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. None of these actions will dramatically change the course of your day.
They are just little choices you can make so you can leave a free, happy, calmer, rested, and more peaceful life.