As society progresses, we get more stressed every day. Check out the infographic below to find out how to overcome stress in 13 simple hacks.
Manage your time, schedule your tasks and shortlist your priorities.
A lot of avoidable stress at work and life is due to improper time management. This leads to worries, deadlines, but at the end of the day, we’re often left feeling helpless. What’s the secret to good time management?
Rate the time you would spend on a task, for example, doing your taxes might be an ‘A’, and washing the dishes could be a B plus.
Use a time tracking tool (there are plenty online), and when you’re done, fill out how much time you spent on a particular job (this will help you to reflect on how you are spending your time.
Organize yourself: be sure that you start to organize your work/home space. Anything that you have to waste time to look for, has to be organized (checkbook, keys, etc.
Be aware of your distractions: Note them down in your daily life. As you are more aware of them, allot them less time, and a lower priority, so that you can do them, but not at the expense of more important things.
Remember that your time is your most valuable resource. You’ll never get it back. Choose how you spend your time wisely.
Find time to exercise: get active!
Various Psychiatrists and Psychologists recommend a bit of exercise, which can be equal to effective in anti-depressant medicines. Start small, and do more every day. Yoga, for example, focuses on breathing. Deep breathing can help to reduce anxiety when practiced regularly, as it has a direct impact on mood.
Running causes positive changes in neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine (feel-good hormones). It helps us think, and get us into a near-meditational state.
Open up: be social, laugh, sing, be yourself!
People need people. It doesn't matter whether they identify as introverts or extroverts - everyone needs someone. Social support (or the availability of intimate personal relationships) protects us from stress. The oxytocin (a hormone that helps decrease anxiety and works with the nervous system to reduce stress levels). This same hormone pushes us to seek out social support and draws us closer to people who are important to us. In short, everything in our body is drawing us closer to the society of fellow human beings to reduce our stress levels. Sometimes our body rules our actions to further its own interest.
Laughing helps to lower your stress levels. With every laugh, your tension levels come down, and blood flow and heart health go up! Just remember, it has to be a sincere effort, not one of those strangled dinner party sounds that die in your throat.
Singing has such a large number of benefits, that if more of us were aware of them, more of us would probably sing! Endorphins and oxytocin, which make us feel good are released when we sing. Singing stimulates the vagus nerve, which impacts the way we relax.
Eat nutritious food.
The worst thing you could do for yourself when you’re feeling stressed is comfort eating. If you have to stress-eat, make a meal of these foods instead:
The carbohydrates in whole-grain bread will help synthesize serotonin, the feel-good hormone. They also contain B-vitamins, which are naturally good at fighting stress.
Sometimes we get the munchies to distract from whatever’s happening around us. This would result in us reaching for candy, chips, chocolates, things we feel we want, but will actually just pass the time. They’re rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which delivers a powerful punch to blood pressure, and general infections like coughs and colds. They involve a bit of chewing as well, and they smell really good. Dip them in a bit of cream if you’re feeling decadent.
Citrus fruits, in their many hues of yellow and orange, are chock-full of vitamin C. They’re also full of fiber: they’ll keep you regular, and keep you chewing.
Tryptophan is an amino acid in turkey, that converts to serotonin, which makes you feel good, and also melatonin, (which is a hormone instrumental in helping you sleep). That’s also why you feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner!
In the midst of taking care of your health, vitamins, and minerals, magnesium often gets neglected. Beans, especially pinto, lima, and kidney have a lot of magnesium. So what if you neglect magnesium levels anyway? Well, your levels of C-reactive proteins might go up: which have been linked to higher stress levels and a higher incidence of depression.
Pasta is, by most standards, a comfort food. Making it whole wheat makes it less-refined, and more guilt-free. The carbohydrates in it will help generate serotonin, which will keep you worry-free, or atleast make you feel better.
Raw bell peppers
Any food that comes in bright, happy colors will probably make you bright and happy too. The vitamin C in this food will reduce Cortisol levels. It’ll also fight your infections when you’re feeling low on immunity.
Edamame is no mere bar snack. As a steamed alternative to stodgy pretzels and fried nuts, it’s a super-powerhouse of B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Why is it on this list of stress-busters? The serotonin it produces will make you feel good!
What tastes like chocolate, is a nutritional treasure chest, and makes you feel amazing? Carob! Why? It has magnesium and calcium, which govern muscle contraction and relaxation. As a bonus, magnesium controls adrenal function and reduces stress by inhibiting the release of ‘fight or flight’ hormone adrenaline.
Almonds are tasty, crunchy, can be flavored in a variety of ways, and are a great source of magnesium- which contributes to its stress-controlling qualities.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. It’s rich in Vitamin C. It strengthens the immune system and helps control blood pressure and cortisol.
Tart cherry juice
Cherry juice is low in sugar but high in melatonin. It lowers stress and helps sleep.
Salmon and other fish
Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart from the ravages of cortisol (formed during stress). They also help to shield the body from chronic inflammation. Other fish, such as sardines and anchovies are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocados are full of Pottasium, which help to control blood pressure, which is desirable when controlling stress. They also contain vitamin B6, which is instrumental in the functioning of the nervous system by lowering stress levels.
Take time to enjoy the little things in life.
There’s no one best way to live your life.
Of course, there are big goals we have to go after, and we have to work hard to achieve them. The process can be stressful at times. In the meantime, there are little things we can do to slow down the arduous pursuit of our goals and appreciate life a little more:
Have a game night with friends.
Have a movie night with your friends and family.
Enjoy a great book or an old show.
Go out for some fresh air and sunshine, and enjoy it.
Spring-clean your house.
Enjoy a kind gesture, or do something nice for someone.
Spend time with a pet
Try out a new recipe
React wisely: not everyone (or everything) deserves your response
There are things that happen in our lives that are usually non-events. However they stress us out, and they add to our daily quota of unnecessary stress. According to Mayo Clinic, there are some common physical reactions that tell us that stress is getting the better of us. They are reactions to everyday situations, and we all do them almost every day:
You get angry/start cursing in a traffic jam
You have an argument and have a headache/neckache/upset stomach later
You have an urgent deadline, and suddenly you get a stiff neck/a backache
You cry for no immediate reason
You start seeing food as the answer to all your problems
You have a fight at work, and much later, when you’re with your family you shout at them for a trivial reason
It’s a long list, but I think you get the idea. There are a couple of ways you can handle this stress:
Get enough sleep
Plan for things in advance, so you’re not under pressure when you have to go somewhere.
Try to cut down on the things that make your life hectic
Reach out to family and friends about what’s bothering you.
If you’re afraid the stress will overpower you, seek professional help (Psychologists and Psychiatrists have made it their life’s work to help you work out your issues and seek better mental health.
Stay hydrated: It really helps!
According to science, being dehydrated can increase levels of stress hormone, cortisol, in your blood. What’s the easiest way to combat dehydration is to drink water. The amount of water you have to drink depends on your age, activity levels, gender, and other factors, but by the rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to drink at least a liter of water a day. Water is necessary for most of our body’s processes, so it’s not surprising that we cool down both literally and figuratively when we have enough of it to drink.
Don’t get addicted to electronic devices: prioritize!
Most of us use electronic devices at work and then relax by spending time on our phones/laptops. What’s wrong with this picture? So much exposure to electronic devices isolates us from human contact, and the world around us.
The blue light emitted from these devices interferes with healthy sleep patterns, and behavior (an increase in depression, obesity, violent behavior, decreased academic performance and decreased creativity).
Here are some ideas to reduce electronic device-related stress:
Play with your pets
Give someone a call instead of texting
Pick a hobby
Go out for a movie or a meal with your family and friends
Check your emails at scheduled times, and disable notifications if you can
Get some fresh air, go out
Get lost in Nature’s beauty.
According to many studies and research, being closer to nature can relieve us of much of our stress.
Even looking at scenes from nature can evoke feelings of love and empathy in us. Why stop at pictures when you can take a walk outside and be closer to the real thing?
When communities are surrounded by more greenery and trees, they become more hospitable and connected with each other. Who doesn't want to live in a place like that?
Being deprived of nature can increase our feelings of isolation and depression. In fact, most studies have reported that participants felt less anxious and depressed, and more positive, well, and full of vitality. Step out once in a while and relax in nature.
Be creative, nurture your talents.
Creative pursuits and hobbies have been likened to meditation when it comes to relaxing, and reducing stress levels.
Writing, reading, sewing, coloring, knitting, and drawing are all great ways to release stress. There are even coloring books for adults nowadays. Find out what makes you relax.
Reading a book is a great stress-reliever.
Just 6 minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%, according to the University of Sussex. Reading is a great way to escape to a new world. I’m sure that as kids when we were happier and less stressed, we all loved a good story. Reading stops us from thinking about our immediate worries. It often transports us to another world. If paperbacks aren’t your thing, you could try audiobooks or e-books. Make a little time to read every day. You might learn something new in the process.
Keep a joy journal of things that make you happy.
Journaling, or keeping a diary helps us to organize our thoughts.
Maybe it’s something that harks back to an easier time, but an open notebook is a great place to unload your thoughts and worries. It’s almost like a psychologist writing down your thoughts on a visit.
You’re in control here, and free to write down whatever you choose without threat of judgment.
As you write your thoughts you can cleanse yourself of your worries, and negative feelings, and get some closure, or emotional release.
It could remind you of things you’re grateful for, which is a great way to counteract the stress of a bad day.
Never compromise on a good night’s sleep.
There are many things that can interfere with a good night’s sleep: too much excitement, stress, illness, insomnia. A good night’s sleep can help you combat the challenges of a day, and fight stress. Sleep immediately reduces your cortisol levels (the stress hormones). levels can reduce melatonin (which is responsible for good sleep).
There’s a world of great remedies to help you get a great night’s sleep:
A dark bedroom (with no electronic devices nearby)
Eating dinner early
Exercising more than three hours before bedtime.
If it’s still not working, try a doctor, or sleep therapist. It’ll really change your outlook on life.
Life is stressful. There are things beyond our control. What we can control, however, is our reaction to stress-triggers. If stress has got you down, try some of these life hacks to relax, and live a better life!