10 Simple Things You Can Do Every Day To Minimize Stress
When we think of stress, we often think of it in the negative sense.
What many people don’t know, though, is that stress is neutral — even beneficial. It’s a demand for change, adaptation, and growth.
Our body’s stress response is both automatic and biological. The key here is that this response is meant to occur in acute situations — we react to the stress, fight or escape it, and return to our normal, relaxed state. Problems with stress arise when it becomes chronic. When we don’t effectively manage the stressors in our lives, their effects pile up and begin interfering with our health and happiness.
While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives completely, we can manage it. Here are some simple but powerful ways to do so:
Identify your sources of stress.
You can’t address your stress without knowing where it comes from. This can be an eye-opening exercise! Set some time aside and grab a pen and paper for this. Do a brain dump of everything that stresses you out — whether it’s mentally, emotionally, or physically. It may seem like a lot at first, but the next few tips will help you get a hold on everything.
Create a plan.
Take a look at your list. What can you control or even influence? What is completely out of your control? It’s time to find a way to let go of what you can’t control.
For the things you can control — make a plan for how to make some changes. Stop chasing perfection, ask for help, break projects up into smaller tasks. Do what you can to chip away and make your list smaller and smaller.
Shift your mindset.
The way you think about stress greatly influences how it impacts your health. Stress is a reaction, after all. Whenever you say or think something like “I’m so stressed out,” pause for a minute and reframe it. Take a deep breath. Find a silver lining if you can. Remember that challenges make us stronger and more resilient. You may not be able to get around the fact that you have a lot on your plate, but can you choose how you view it.
Find what relaxes and rejuvenates you and make it part of your routine.
The opposite of the stressed state is one of restoration and rebuilding. Counterbalance your stress with activities that help put you into this kind of state. Identify some activities you can easily implement like meditation, yoga, drawing, getting out in nature, or calling a friend.
Own your morning.
Start your day in a way that makes you feel empowered, in control, and calm. This will help you feel ready to tackle your day.
Set yourself up with a morning routine. This will look different for everyone, but some powerful practices you can use include: journaling, meditation, making a to-do list, going for a walk, exercising, or even just making your bed!
Nourish your body with foods that make you feel good.
Certain foods can actually be stressful to the body if they aren’t high in nutrients and if they fuel inflammation. Identify what foods don’t leave you feeling your best and focus on the ones that do — especially those that are whole, unprocessed, and nutrient-rich.
Stress is an active, charged state that needs to be balanced. Sleep is one way to do this. Build a nighttime routine that helps you wind down. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night (7-9 hours a night is ideal). This is the time when your body fully restores and re-energizes, and it’s crucial if you want to tackle the stress in your life.
Lots of the stress we have is self-imposed. It could be that we’re thinking about the past — what we said in an email this morning, the argument we had with a friend yesterday, the break-up we went through last month. Or, we’re worrying about the future — tomorrow’s meeting with our boss, next week’s dentist appointment, how we’re going to look in a bathing suit next summer. But if we just stay present, in the current moment, we have much less to stress about. We only need to focus on the here and now because it’s truly all we have.
Make sure you’re taking care of your own needs. Stress often piles up when we’re focused on taking care of everything and everyone else but ourselves! This doesn’t need to mean bubble baths and massages (although it can).
Most of the time it means setting boundaries and saying “no” to what doesn’t feel right, eliminating unhealthy habits that are weighing you down, ending toxic relationships, and doing more of what makes you happy.
One of the most powerful ways to calm your body is to take slow, deep, intentional breaths. It’s like a massage for your insides! Remember, you are a human being, not a human doing. When you’re feeling stressed out, just stop, breathe, and do nothing else. Focusing on the inhale and exhale helps you get back into the present and tune the outside noise out. If you need help with this, we like the Breathe2Relax app.