10 tips to manage STRESS.
Updated: Apr 8
Stress is our body’s natural reaction to a change, demand or challenge. Stress can be mental – emotional and physical – bodily tension. Instinctive stress in short terms or short bursts can be beneficial and can help us avoid danger. Such short term stress is an evolutionary trait and is called acute stress. Acute stress is unlikely to cause health issues. But, when we are under perpetual stress for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, we risk suffering from the adverse effects of stress. Such long term stress is called chronic stress. Chronic stress is linked to numerous health issues and has the potential to cause or intensify a free radical attack. Let us look at 10 tips for managing stress.
#1 Practise Deep Breathing:
Stress can make us breathe heavier and in extreme cases cause hyperventilation and panic attacks. When we practise deep breathing, our body starts calming down. The blood pressure drops and the heart rate lowers. In a few minutes, the brain calms down and relaxes by limiting thoughts that trigger stress. Here are the steps to practise deep breathing:
Inhale slowly through the nose into your abdomen.
Gradually start exhaling through the mouth - feeling the gust of air on the lips.
Repeat the steps above for about 10 minutes and we should start feeling the difference.
Practise deep breathing daily to manage stress.
Research shows that meditation helps lower anxiety especially in those people who suffer from high anxiety levels. When we meditate, the brain gets a chance to go into a state of deep relaxation. It also helps reduce thoughts that provoke stress. For most people it is difficult to sit in one place and meditate but, practice makes us perfect. Here are simple steps to start meditating:
Sit upright on a chair with your feet touching the ground.
Close your eyes and observe the way you are breathing. Continue to breathe normally and try to focus on each inhale and exhale cycle.
You may feel the urge to open your eyes, look around or think of something. The goal is to surpass this urge and keep focusing on each breath.
Continuing focusing on each breath for 10 to 15 minutes and then open your eyes to feel the difference.
Make meditation a part of your daily routine to control stress.
#3 Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule:
Sleep is critical for both, survival and performance. When we sleep the body repairs itself. Having a regular schedule to go to bed and to wake up, lowers stress. Research has shown that adults who sleep 8 to 9 hours a day have lower stress than adults who sleep lesser than 8 hours a day. Sleep also gives us a chance to escape from stress provoking tasks and thoughts which helps the brain relax. Follow a regular sleep schedule to reduce stress.
#4 Listen to Music:
Music influences mood and emotions. Just like listening to fast, thumping music charges us up for a workout similarly, a slow tempo, soulful music helps relax the mind and body. Listening to calming music of about 60 beats per minute invokes alpha brainwaves which promote sleep. It’s a good idea to use an app. that produces music or which are tuned to help us relax. Listen to such music or sounds to lower stress.
#5 Laugh more:
Laughter invokes the release of happy hormones and suppresses the release of stress hormones. Research has proved that laughter provokes serotonin release which has effects similar to painkillers and antidepressants. So, remember to laugh more often to manage stress.
#6 Eat Right:
It is important to eat a wholesome diet. To function efficiently, we should be eating good quality and enough quantity of micronutrients and macronutrients. Consumption of micronutrients and macronutrients has to be calculated basis age, gender, lifestyle etc. It’s critical to consume supplements if good quality/ enough quantity of nutrients can not be obtained from diet alone. This highlights the importance of eating right to combat stress.
#7 Avoid Alcohol, Tobacco and recreational Drugs:
Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs may temporarily take us away from our stresses and worries but have serious adverse effects on our body. Consumption of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs is highly toxic and triggers a release of stress hormones. It also causes a free radical attack and inflammation. It’s best to avoid the consumption of alcohol, tobacco or recreational drugs as they cause more stress and worsen the adverse effects of stress.
#8 Take Breaks:
It’s important to take breaks while doing stressful tasks. When we take a break, stress reduces and our body tries to get back to normal. It’s best to take multiple breaks that allow sufficient time to recover or recuperate and then get back to doing the stressful task(s). Studies have shown that taking breaks while doing stressful tasks enhance overall performance. Remember to take enough number of breaks to handle stress.
#9 Relax more:
When we relax, our body gets a chance to normalise and recover. Relaxation also releases mood-enhancing happy hormones. Take a relaxing deep tissue massage, read a book that calms you down, listen to sounds of waterfalls, waves, chirping birds etc. that help you relax or maybe take a power nap. Find out what works best for you but, make it a point to relax more often to control stress.
#10 Speak Up:
In many cases, chronic stress leads to panic attacks and anxiety. Talk to family members and friends. If we are not able to control stress even after actively undertaking measures for the same, it’s best to speak up and seek medical help. See a psychiatrist or a psychologist for help.
Now we know the 10 tips to manage stress.