Unfortunately, stress is too common in our lives and can be caused by many things including your career, your academics, your finances, and your personal life.
Just when you get things in order in one area, stress rears its head again in a different form.
Stress is not only draining mentally but has actual consequences to your health. Some research estimate that 90% of disease and illness is stress-related. In a world that is focused on moving 100 miles per hour, it is easy to become overwhelmed fast.
In this post, we’ll share 15 actionable tips you can implement to help you reduce stress. No single tip is a quick fix to an entire problem, but each of them combined can greatly reduce your stress levels and help you manage.
Consequences of stress
A little stress here and there is nothing to worry about and can actually be beneficial. Think of your muscles and working out. Working out puts a strain on your muscles and as a result, your muscles adapt and grow back stronger.
Periods of stress in other areas can have the same effect.
A minor stress at work because you don’t know how to do something will put pressure on you to level up, leaving you more experienced and skilled on the other side.
However, ongoing stress can lead to serious health issues.
This can include mental health issues like depression and anxiety as well as physical health issues like high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeats, heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases.
These problems won’t develop right away but will develop over the long run.
With the reality of these consequences, it is essential to nip stress in the bud and manage it the best you can.
Let’s walk through what you can do to overcome stress.
15 Ways to Reduce Stress
Exercise is a common solution to many of the topics I write about on this blog. It’s beneficial in so many ways and reducing stress is one of them.
Exercising provides you with an outlet to release and forget about your worries for the moment. Getting a workout in reduces stress in the body by helping bring your stress hormones back into equilibrium.
It also produces endorphins that make you feel better. The blood flow and oxygen to your brain can give a boost to your morale and energy levels.
Another great thing about exercise is that it is something you can control. When things are in your control, it helps alleviate the stresses of things out of your control, such as the growing pile of projects on your desk at work.
Sleep is imperative for your bodily functions. When you go without sleep, you won’t be able to reduce stress. In fact, you’ll make it worse.
Make it a priority of yours to get sufficient rest to allow your body to do what it needs to do to recover. When rested, your body has a better chance of bringing down stress levels. The positive effect on your well-being alone could be enough to handle your obstacles.
Take naps as well. A short power nap can do wonders for the remainder of your day.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
Along with sleep, maintaining a healthy diet is essential to operate at your best and to minimize stress.
Everyone can probably relate to stress-eating. Whenever stress comes on, all you want to do is eat something that will take the pain away. While this may work momentarily, poor choices in food and liquids could add to your problems, resulting in you feeling worse than before.
Avoid sugars, simple carbohydrates, fried foods, and alcohol. You want to fuel your body to take on and conquer what is stressing you out.
In addition to eating well, you can also add supplements to your diet that can help combat stress. With a little bit of Google searching, you can find supplements, vitamins, herbs, and teas that are known to help put you at ease.
Typically, when you are stressed, you are in an overwhelmed state and moving fast to do things.
This generates activity in your sympathetic nervous system and puts your body in a fight or flight state, which can be damaging to your health if sustained for long periods of time.
A great thing to do when this happens is to decompress. Take a second to stop and simply relax. Stay still and take some deep breaths.
You can turn on some soothing music and light a candle or use essential oils for aromatherapy. This can help you slow down and get you out of the fight or flight state you have been operating in.
You might think that this is wasting time, but decompressing for a short amount of time of even 10 minutes will pay dividends to you.
To take your decompressing further and turn the time into a full meditation session. Meditation and mindfulness have grown in popularity, with the most successful and content individuals swearing by it.
The main thing is to be present, tune into your body, clear your mind, and put yourself into a calm state. During your meditation sesh, you can practice gratitude and positivity.
Think of what you are thankful for and what you have that others are not as fortunate to have. This can reveal to you that the things you are stressing about aren’t as big of an issue in the grand scheme of life.
6. Go outside
When you are stressed, being in your home or in the office can have you dwelling on your current problems and making no progress.
Get up and get outside. Leaving your home or office can be relieving. Enjoying the world out there will take a load off.
Sunlight is particularly beneficial to your body. It can improve your mood through the chemicals that are released when you are exposed to sun.
Get in touch with the outdoors and head to a beach or a forest. “Forest bathing” is a Japanese practice of spending time outdoors in a forest for the physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits.
It can offer a much-needed escape from the city and technology. A study from a professor at Chiba University in Japan found that walking around through a forest can decrease stress hormones 12% better than walking around in an urban area.
It was also found that forest bathing lowers your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces sympathetic nerve activity, and increases parasympathetic nerve activity.
The parasympathetic nerve activity will allow you to relax and return to homeostasis.
The best remedy for many things is to be around friends, family, and your pets!
Having company around will help ground you and relieve what’s on your mind. Friends, family, and your pup can bring a boost from happiness and laughter.
The act of talking to someone is beneficial in its own right for reducing stress. Staying bottled up can lead to you eventually blowing your lid off.
I am very grateful for the friend group I have around me. It’s always an uplifting and entertaining time when I am with them in person or over the phone.
Keep a close group of individuals (or animals) that you can rely on to go out, do things with and have conversations.
8. Put time towards the hobby you enjoy
Everyone has something that they enjoy doing in their free time: dancing, weight lifting, playing an instrument, gaming.
The thing you enjoy doing can help you forget about what’s stressing you and clear your mind. The sense of calm and enjoyment you get when you are putting time into your hobby will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the things causing you stress.
Hobbies can be therapeutic to individuals as well. This will help you decompress and reduce the stress hormones wrecking your well-being.
No matter how busy or stressful things are, squeezing in a hobby for 10-20 minutes of your time will pay off.
9. Organize your environment
Stress is a form of chaos and chaos is a lack of order. When things are out of order, you don’t feel in control and you feel like the world is controlling you.
One thing you can do to regain control and order is to organize your environment.
Clean your home and clean your desk space. The act of cleaning is therapeutic and having an organized space will help you be organized.
Never leave the house untidy. After a long day at work or school, coming home to a cluttered environment can have you feeling cluttered when you get back.
10. Say “no” more often
Saying “no” to things can help deal with stresses caused by workload as well as your finances.
When your plate is full, the last thing you want to do is add to that. Or when your finances are tight, the last thing you want to do is say “yes” to going out and making impulse purchases.
Saying no can be difficult. Many individuals are people pleasers. They don’t want to let someone down by saying no to hanging out and turning down dinners and events.
To reduce stress, you must learn to say no more often. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but will enable you to free your time or cut back on expenses. This will help dig yourself out of your stressful situation.
Once you handle things, you can begin being a “yes” person again. Just say yes to the things that are fun and beneficial to your life. Keep saying no to stressors and the unnecessary.
11. Cut out additional stressors
Think of this as cutting out the little things that add stress to your life or bring you down.
This includes watching news channels, reading toxic social media content, and even listening to depressing music.
These things are everywhere and only add to your stress, whether you are conscious of it or not.
The news channels have more negative news than positive news. You can feel the stress of others while watching.
Reading toxic social media posts and comments will end up irritating you. Keep your social media feed filled with entertainment and humor as much as you can. Refrain from following accounts that don’t uplift you.
Ultimately, filter out anything that is detrimental to your mental health. Only add things that will help you move forward during a stressful time.
12. Get a massage
A massage is something that everyone wants but few take the time to get often.
I’m a big basketball ball fan of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. I wasn’t surprised to hear that LeBron spends $1.5 million a year to take care of his body. He spends on trainers, massage therapists, chefs, and more.
Nothing I do is on the level of LeBron James, but I always admired the idea of investing in your own body.
I try to think of purchases and their return on investment. If my body and mind are the drivers to my career and my life, why wouldn’t I want to spend money to maintain peak performance?
During stressful times, I will go out and get a cheap but effective massage to help cope with stress and relax my body and mind.
The $50 spent on a massage is worth the price to me if I can get through tough projects that will lead to a bonus or a promotion. If I purchase 5 massages in 6 months, but excel in my work and get a promotion of $10,000, the ROI of those massages is multiples higher than the $50 spent on each one.
Of course, the massage wouldn’t be the only thing to land you a promotion, but the point is to invest in yourself to reduce stress and stay at peak performance.
13. Manage your time
If your stress is caused by having too many things to do at once, make it your mission to manage your time better.
Get organized and create a game plan to get things done. A little time spent on organization in the beginning will save you hours in the long run.
Structure your day in chunks of deliberate and focused work. Then divide that work up with breaks. Break time can be used for hobbies, socializing, meditation, getting a massage, or any of the other tips in this post.
By alternating from deliberate work to a break, you’ll keep from burning yourself out, which allows you to work more cumulative hours at the end of each day.
The goal is to get more done in a shorter amount of time and to maintain the energy levels and motivation for longer durations of work.
14. Control what you can control
We talked about how stress is caused by chaos and chaos is a lack of control.
Sometimes the things causing you to stress are within your control, and many times, stresses are caused by external things you have no control over.
For example, stress from workload can be self-inflicting if you procrastinate and let work pile up. Other times, you are assigned project after project that ends up overloading you against your will.
Stresses from finances can come from your own doing by spending recklessly and not being disciplined. In other cases, financial stresses are put on you from emergency expenditures like sudden car repairs.
Whatever the case may be, focus on what you can control and forget the rest. There is no point in stressing about things you can’t control because that stress will not change the matter at hand.
Forgetting those things will eliminate unneeded stress.
15. Set realistic goals to overcome what is stressing you
Tackling your stresses requires an effective plan. When you are planning what you need to do to bring things back to normal, set realistic goals and expectations for yourself.
Being overly ambitious on what you want to accomplish during a stressful period of time can end up overwhelming you. This can lead to you accomplishing less.
Create your goals and create smaller mini-goals. These baby steps forward will allow you to accomplish each mini-goal with ease. You’ll build positive momentum and will eventually achieve the overarching goal.
For example, if you have a 50 slide presentation to build at work, don’t set off to finish all 50 slides in one sitting. Tackle 5 slides at a time. Once you finish 5 slides, you can take a short break and bust out another 5 slides.
5 slides doesn’t seem too bad when you have to make 50, right?
No, it doesn’t. And that is why setting realistic goals is beneficial when handling stress. The big goal can seem unattainable, but breaking it down into smaller chunks will make each chunk attainable.
When each chunk is attainable, you’ll eventually reach the desired end goal.
Stress will always be there and will show up in many different ways.
While it can’t be eliminated entirely, it can be managed and reduced by implementing tips included in this blog post.
When your world feels like it is about to crumble, refer back to these tips and see if any of them can apply to your situation.
Every little bit can help and when this tips are combined and used consistently, you have a high chance of seeing improvement in your mental and physical well-being.