When life gets busy, it often becomes more stressful. All those everyday worries—making it to work on time, paying the bills, helping the kids with homework—can build up over time.
Then there are the bigger worries, that may come on suddenly or are always in the back of your mind—unemployment, sorting life or funeral insurance, or paying your child’s university fees. It sometimes seems like there’s always something to stress about!
You may already know the importance of managing stress and looking after yourself during particularly hectic times. But sometimes finding time to actively reduce stress is just another thing to add to your already cluttered to-do list. In turn, this can create more stress—hardly an ideal situation.
However, managing stress does not need to be difficult. Sometimes the simplest methods work best and can easily become part of a morning routine, lunch break or nighttime ritual.
Here are 8 easy ways to help relieve your stress when life gets a little crazy.
We’re big fans of this practice!
Meditation is still not well understood by many people in Western nations, and they may discount meditation’s effectiveness because you can’t physically see how it would make a difference.
However, research has shown that mediation can improve the symptoms of stress related conditions and therefore overall stress levels. Even simple meditation practises that can be done in a matter of minutes can help you manage stress levels and increase your mindfulness.
Often going hand-in-hand with meditation, yoga has long been promoted for its ability to strengthen both body and mind. This practice combines body movement with breathing and awareness that can be effective for managing your stress levels.
While some people see physical benefits from practicing yoga—such as increased flexibility and muscle tone—the mental aspect is also something that can come with time. Participants often sleep better, says Harvard. And many people find that yoga makes concentrating on tasks easier and makes them feel less stressed.
Make sure you find a yoga style that best meets your needs and practice at least once or twice a week to help reduce your stress levels.
Exercise can get your heart pumping, which may not seem like the best way to combat stress. However, it’s actually a great way to relieve stress because it releases endorphins that can help boost your happiness, says WebMD.
Exercise is also helpful for managing stress because you may find it easier to focus on something other than your worries, such as the movement of your body or the sound of your breath. Refocusing your mind in this way works similarly to meditation, giving your brain time to recalibrate and hopefully negate whatever is causing you stress.
We live in an overly connected society. Which can be great—particularly if you are happy and content in life and not feeling stressed out! But, that’s not always the case.
Sometimes social media can be anything but social, bringing more stress into an already stressful day. Practicing active avoidance is a way to switch off some factors that may impact your mood and lead to increased stress:
Turn off the news while you’re making dinner and listen to music instead. Read a book on the train instead of flicking through Instagram. Make a conscious decision to check emails only between certain hours.
Restricting these outside factors before they start to impact you negatively can give you the opportunity to control the amount of stress that may be building up in your mind.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Being prepared can often help lessen the stress you may feel in certain situations. This may be easier said than done at times, but managing the things within your control could help eliminate some of the stress.
Whether it’s planning a trip or putting together a presentation for work, planning ahead could create less chances for things to go wrong and in turn, a bit less stress and anxiety for you.
Often small bits of preparation, such as leaving early to make a meeting on time or writing a packing list a few weeks before a trip, can do wonders to help minimise stress.
Find time for laughter
It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine, and when it comes to stress relief that really could be true, says Mayo Clinic.
Laughing overwhelms the body with a sudden joy that can turn stress into a distant memory.
Think about it—it’s hard to feel stress when your whole body is shaking from laughter!
It’s not always easy to “turn a frown upside down” but purposely seeking laughter is a great way to relieve the triggers of your stress responses. Plan lunch with a friend who always puts a smile on your face, watch a funny movie or simply browse jokes online until you find something that tickles your fancy. No matter how the laugh comes, just enjoy it when it arrives!
Learn to say ‘No’
Stress often comes from feeling overwhelmed. Whether at work, home or just in day-to-day life, feeling stressed out is often caused by taking on too much.
Learning to say no can have a profound impact on your stress levels. This may be difficult at first, especially if you’re someone who wants to help others or are known as the person who’s always able to lend a helping hand. But you may not be doing yourself a favour by always doing favours for others.
By restricting the amount you take on, you could create more time for self-care where you can better manage your stress levels.
Sounds simple, but when was the last time you stopped and focused on your breathing? Breathing is vital, not only for life but for calming your mind and body.
Focusing on your breath—the flow of air going in and out of the lungs, the speed, how deeply you’re breathing—can help centre the mind and move thoughts away from whatever is causing you stress.
Each time you breathe in, think of it as bringing positivity into your body. As you breathe out, image your stress being blown away.
These eight techniques and tips could help relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety. While these steps are great for helping you find calm, if you begin to feel overwhelmed or out of control seek advice from a GP or support service. They may be able to offer even more ways to help manage your stress beyond those listed here.