For the past twenty years I have been sharing tried and true strategies for managing stress. One of my most requested topics is Stress, Time, and Procrastination Management. Even in casual conversations people will ask, “What are five stress management techniques that seem to work well with stress reduction?
One: Music. Create a playlist of music that puts you in the right frame of mind on your way to work: lively, peppy, and motivating. Create a playlist of music that puts you in the right frame of mind on your way home: calming, loving, maybe even romantic. Music will modify your mood. Your coworkers, friends, and family will appreciate it.
Two: Sing. Do we sing because we are happy? Or are we happy because we sing? Does singing relieve stress? Yes, singing relieves stress. And we are happy because we sing. Singing boosts oxygen levels in the blood, causes better circulation, and enhances the immune system. Singing releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Singing releases oxytocin, a hormone found to alleviate anxiety and stress.
Three: Deep breathe. Do some deep breathing. Several times per day inhale five seconds, hold fifteen seconds and exhale slowly for ten. Pay attention on how that feels. Take long deep breaths that help stress reduction.
Four: Smile. Smiling can help manage stress. In a recent study, researchers found that smiling, even when it is forced, can ease stress and lower your heart rate. And if you are smiling, number five will be easy.
Five: Laugh. Have a stack of joke books on your night stand and read a few pages at night before you sleep. It will lighten your mood and clear your stressful thoughts.
People often ask, “What are some stress management activities?”
One: Take a walk. Take walking breaks at work: Take a couple of laps around the building or down the hallways to relieve the stress and anxiety of your fast-paced career.
Two: Connect with nature. Some people not only go for a walk, they go out of their way to connect with nature. They make sure they get grounded. They take off their shoes and feeling the grass and the gravel and take in all of the senses; sights, sounds, and smells.
Three: Dress up a little. Dressing in clean, pressed, and appropriate clothing can reduce stress by silently affirming your importance and self-worth. Dress in a way that makes you happy and confident and you will have an abundance of energy and strength to deal with stress throughout the day.
So, here are 10 stress management skills that will help with stress and anxiety.
One: Recognize that you are stressed. Before you can reduce stress or make it work for you, you must recognize the signs and symptoms and identify the sources.
Two: Monitor yourself physically and psychologically. How are you feeling, really?
Three: Take an inventory of your lifestyle. How much stress and anxiety do you feel? Are you desperate to simply have some time for yourself? Are you always tired? Are you crabby at work? Are you irritable at home?
Four: Accept It. One of the best ways to reduce stress and diffuse a stressful situation is to simply accept it. Acceptance is an attitude, not an action. Accept the environment or circumstances you are in.
Five: Making choices that are reasonable. Set goals with realistic expectations. Prioritize your activities based upon your values. Live within your means. Having choices and making decisions helps you reduce stress. As I have always said, hope for the best, plan for the worst, accept what you get.
Six: Stop saying Yes. Don’t say yes if it will add stress to your life. Saying “yes” may avoid an awkward moment, but over time you could become angry, resentful, over-extended, and even more stressed because you feel like people are taking advantage of you.
Seven: Do some Gentle Stretching. Be gentle. Hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, neck. Quiet your mind by stretching your arms and legs. Focus on slow, purposeful movements. Repeat. Any physical activity will help reduce stress and anxiety.
Eight: Create Routines. You might want to create routines for recurring tasks to reduce the stress. Set out what you are going to wear to work. Deciding what you’re going to wear the night before can save you time and anxiety in the morning.
Nine: Reference out. For instance, if you want a change careers, or re-enter the workforce, but are afraid to take a chance, think carefully about what it is you really want, and what you’re currently unhappy with. Speak to people who have made a change. Get their advice.
Ten: Consider your mindset. Is this a problem, situation, or opportunity? Framing will be critical to assist you in re-evaluating information and drawing rational conclusions. Framing has enormous power.
The bottom line is that people want to be healthy. And the often ask, “What are four healthy stress management strategies?” My response is always the same: Be well-fed, well-rested, well-exercised, and do it with a little less salt.
Well-fed: Have a variety of smaller portions with lots of color. Try to make half your plate fruit and vegetables. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk to wash down your proteins and whole-grain choices. Cut back on fats, sugars, and salt whenever you can. Drink water often.
Well-rested: We need to prioritize getting more sleep. Adults should sleep 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
Well-exercised: Practice these five criteria to an exercise program based upon your stress level: it has to be something that causes you to move, breathe, bend, you enjoy, and is at your pace.
And Less salt: Researchers claim most of the salt we eat every day is hidden. Roughly 80% of the salt we eat is hiding in processed foods like bread, biscuits, and breakfast cereals, prepared ready meals, or take-out. Our job is to manage that 20% as well as possible because salt intake is somewhat sensitive.
Sometimes people are quite concerned for their wellbeing and ask, “What are the signs of stress response by my nervous system that I should pay attention to?” Be aware of your stress level.
There are signs of stress response by your nervous system that you should pay attention to. Stress affects your thinking ability, your emotional well-being, and physical health. Your nervous system kicks in by releasing all sorts of stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline which prepares the body for the flight or fight response. Your heart rate increases, muscles prepare for action, blood pressure spikes, beating becomes shallow and quick, and your senses become hyper-acute. Over time this can be physically and psychologically exhausting. Stress reduction strategies are critical.
People also are concerned about stress and anxiety. One of their questions is, “What are some stress reduction and relaxation techniques people can do to deal with stress and anxiety?”
Here are some thoughts about some stress reduction and relaxation techniques people can do to deal with stress and anxiety. Write it down, make a list of your worries, and identify what you are really worried about. When worries come into your mind, consciously say to yourself, “I’m going to write this down, I’m not going to worry about this now.” Later, you can turn what would have been anxiety, into energy, and take-action.
Finally, this question gets asked routinely, “How can I use physical activity to reduce stress levels, regulate blood pressure, and lower heart rate?”
Here’s my clear and concise answer. Physical activity helps you deal with stress and control your blood pressure by strengthening your heart. Physical activity can also help you manage your weight. A strong heart, a healthy weight, and a positive attitude can go a long way to reduce stress levels. Physical activity is a great remedy to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you need to find a motivational keynote speaker, plenary speaker, breakout speaker, concurrent session speaker, seminar leader, or workshop facilitator who can deliver in-person, virtually, or via prerecorded session, Kit Welchlin earned an M.A. (Master of Arts Degree in Speech Communication), the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association), the CVP (Certified Virtual Presenter Designation from eSpeakers), and is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at www.welchlin.com.