Imagine a world where you were finally stress free. You could enjoy the little things, help others, and were a pro at stress management to prevent a relapse. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be a distant dream or fantasy. Anyone can learn to manage stress– even chronic stress. And your mental and physical health depends on you being able to deal with stress effectively. After all, you deserve to enjoy life. In this article, you’ll learn how to deal with stress by improving your mental health and investing in areas that’ll make you handle life’s stressors more easily.
How to Deal with Stress: 14 Ways
1. Focus on the present moment
When we want to deal with stress, we tend to focus on it and devise a plan for how to fix it.
Focusing on solving stress seems like the right thing to do – but actually, it’s creating more concepts, ideas and thoughts around the stress itself – like mental scar tissue forming over a cut.
With guided meditation, we want to focus on the present moment. Not on our story or ideas of what is stressing us out or even solutions for it. With our awareness focused on the present, our subconscious mind can slowly soften, relax and unwind from the stress naturally and in its own time. Don’t force anything – that creates more stress – not less! You can try out this guided meditation for stress to live in the present moment.
2. Use your body to affect your mind
We generally suffer most from mental stress. We worry about work, our relationships, even the environment. This constant mental worry will invariably create tension in your body – and you won’t even notice it happening.
Often, the tension in your body acts as an anchor for mental stress. Let go of the physical tension, and the mental stress dissolves by itself.
When feeling particularly stressed, take extra time to relax your body. You can make use of Declutter The Mind’s guided relaxation session any time you need.
Pay particular attention to letting go. When you scan your mind through your body, any time you find even the tiniest bit of tension or holding, just let it go. What you will find is that when you’ve managed to let go on one ‘layer’ of the body, your awareness can penetrate deeper – and you’ll discover new layers of tension to let go.
This can seem a little disconcerting at first – because it feels like the tension is endless. You let go of one tense area, only for another one to appear. But rest assured that it’s like peeling layers of an onion. As you deal with stress at ever deeper layers, you will find that you can begin to function at a much more efficient level than before.
You see, holding tension requires effort and energy. When you let go of stress in this way – layer by layer in your body – you free up all this energy and vitality that you can now use in all other parts of your life.
3. Meditate on the breath
As well as being the most common way to get into a meditative state, meditation on the breath also has a particularly beneficial effect on mental stress.
You will notice that when you’re stressed, worried or scared – that your breath will be quite different to when you’re calm and centred. It will feel more choppy, shallower and faster.
You can’t force your breath to be smooth, calm and relaxed – but if you give it your mindful attention, it will naturally become that way by itself. Not only that, but it will also help to calm the mind too.
4. Meditate regularly
By meditating regularly – letting go of layers of physical tension, being in the present moment and allowing your breath to become full and smooth, you create a deep-seated resilience in your being.
This means that not only can you let go of stress more easily when it does come up, but you’ll find that things that used to make you stressed simply don’t seem to matter so much anymore. Stress just can’t get a foothold anymore.
When it comes to understanding how to deal with stress, it’s sometimes more important to maintain regular habits that keep you in a good mental place so that when stress comes, you’re better prepared to deal with it.
The easiest way to make meditation a regular habit is to use an app like Declutter The Mind. Just follow the simple instructions, and in no time you’ll begin to see the benefits of this amazing practice.
5. Invest in your physical health
One of the things you can do to manage stress is to invest in your physical health. There are numerous physical health benefits that arise from exercise, such as getting endorphins flowing through you, making stress more manageable, it can be a form of meditation with movement, and it helps boost your mood. So, if you go for that run around the block, you’ll be able to become centered and mentally prepared to deal with the things that stress you, so you can get them off your plate faster. Plus, while you exercise you’ll be doing some deep breathing, which helps deliver more oxygen to the brain. Exercising during a flight response is what your body wants you to do. So exercise regularly to let the blood flow and help you deal with a stressful event more easily as they come up.
6. See a mental health professional
You can find a therapist or any mental health professional who will help you deal with stress. You can choose to have someone to talk your problems out with and use therapy as a sounding board to help you resolve your challenges independently. Alternatively, depending on the severity of the stress you’re dealing with, you might do formalized therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to help reduce stress. If you’re unable to relieve stress on your own, having a therapist can help you not feel stuck in your thoughts or ruminate the same thoughts repeatedly. It’s much easier to cope with stress when you have someone who will help you manage the thoughts in your head effectively to wrangle yourself out of your mind.
7. Try progressive muscle relaxation
During moments of high stress and mental health problems, our bodies begin to tense up. We might notice our fists are clenched, tightness in our stomachs, maybe our jaw is locked tight, and even our breathing patterns might become unnatural. You can reduce your blood pressure and relieve stress by mindfully trying progressive muscle relaxation. Alternatively, you can check out the Declutter The Mind app and look for a “body scan meditation.” You’ll be able to notice more mindfully where tightness is in your body and work to loosen those muscles up while breathing more naturally from the stomach. Those with a hyperactive stress response will find that relaxing the muscles will naturally help calm them during severe stress.
8. Live a healthy lifestyle
Your mental health and living a healthy lifestyle are connected. Of course, you can be a healthy person and still experience stress. But stress management becomes easier when your coping skills are healthy. For example, if you find you get stressed at work once a week, going for a run before and after work can be a great way to reduce stress. Often, when stress builds up we want to “fight or flight.” You can’t fight your boss, so running is the next best thing. Eating a balanced diet of fibrous vegetables, healthy fats, and protein are also going to help you manage stress effectively. After all, certain diets like keto can improve your sleep, mood, and more.
9. Write in a stress journal
When your blood pressure and stress levels start to rise, it’s time to let it out. While venting to someone can make us feel good, it might also leave us feeling vulnerable. Sometimes, we need to get things off our chest but not vocally. You can reduce stress by writing in a journal to let out issues with your mental health. Your journal doesn’t need to be just rants either. You could write songs about how you feel. Or poems. Or any other creative writing style to get your thoughts out. You might use your thoughts to write a future memoir on how you view your life. So not only will it help you cope with stress, but it could also be a great way to channel your creativity.
10. Strive to have a positive attitude
Chronic stress can eat away at your well being. If your perceived stress has increased lately, you need to stay balanced. Too much stress will make things so much worse. So try to laugh off difficult situations. Make lifestyle changes for physical health problems. And try to keep your spirits high, even when multiple things set you back. For instance, if you do an act of kindness daily, you’ll feel better about yourself. When you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel more mentally capable of dealing with psychological stress. So, put out good even when life throws chaos at you. In the end, you’ll become better at stress management and deal with fewer headaches.
11. Improve your sleep
Physical exercise, a good diet, and a deep breath or a few could help improve your sleep. When you fall asleep early, you’ll wake up naturally and well rested. When we don’t sleep well, the annoying alarm clock disrupts the sleep we need. Bad sleep will affect your stress hormones. It’ll also make you crave unhealthy food, which can cause serious illness if it lasts a long time. So get some physical activity to combat stress and sleep well. A relaxed nervous system at night will allow you to get the rest you need to tackle challenges that come up the next day.
12. Nip negative thoughts in the bud
You can’t control what thoughts pop into your head all the time. But you can transform the quality over time. If every time a negative thought comes into your mind, you think of a positive thought instead, you’ll naturally start thinking more happy thoughts over time. Plus, if you stop a negative thought early on, you’ll be able to stop ruminating thoughts that take you down negative rabbit holes of thinking. Stress levels start in the mind. So, if your goal is to relax the nervous system and work on managing stress, work on improving your thoughts with a therapist or on your own. Remember, doing good deeds helps your actions become positive, which also helps you think more positive too.
13. Stop drinking alcohol and avoid caffeine
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s normal to experience irritable bowel syndrome. Drinking caffeine will often make that much worse for you. To manage anxiety, reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine. If your stress levels are high, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you might need to cut out caffeine from your everyday life. Caffeine is known to make anxiety worse. And trying to cope with stress by drinking alcohol doesn’t make your problems go away. Stressful situations need to be dealt with head-on. So do the inner work with a medical professional to heal and cut out drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol.
14. Listen to relaxing music
Relaxation techniques like listening to music can help you when you feel stressed. A stressful situation can become more bearable when you belt out the words to your favorite song. Stress affects your mood and music can improve your mood. So when someone experiences stress, listen to music with them or recommend a few of your favorite tunes. You can listen to songs about anxiety, depression, or just any positive songs you like.
Stressful situations needs to be resolved. Whether it’s through therapy, exercise, talking to family members, or even journalling, there are effective ways to deal with stress. So, if you have trouble sleeping or feel muscle tension, focus on healthy ways to combat stress. The relaxation techniques you use could improve your life and stressful situation for the better. But cut out bad habits like drinking alcohol or caffeine and face your challenges head on. The key to remember is that stress is temporary, there’s always a healthy and effective way out.