Daily Habits to Help Manage Stress: Part 1
If you are a human being living on this planet, you are probably no stranger to stress and the many ways it can affect your life. Though you might be surprised to learn that some of the medical, emotional, or behavioural issues you have are actually related to the amount of stress in your life.
Anything from your mood and irritability to the amount you sleep and even whether or not you can lose weight can come down to your stress levels. While you might not be able to completely remove all stress triggers from your life, it comes down to how you manage stress that you can’t predict or prevent.
“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” – Bruce Lee
Sometimes, life makes it difficult to “allow things to pass.” You may feel like every day is a list of things that you can’t seem to get through, or it’s possible you think that life is an endless battle against your anxieties. There are numerous studies right now about why the rates of anxiety and stress are so high. It’s been said that millennials are the most anxious generation, and Time reported that more than 90 percent of Generation Z is stressed out.
However, it goes beyond just these generations. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults.
Basically, when it comes to stress, you’re not alone. There are many ways to handle the stressful ins and outs of everyday life. These tactics have been supported by various studies and therapists who have shown that people with stress simply need to communicate to themselves what they are feeling. Oftentimes, you can use logic to see how your own stress is really just hidden fears and anxiety ganging up on you.
In this report, you will learn about some of the daily habits that can help you manage stress, from journaling and exercise, to learning about meditation.
Part One: What to Do to Manage Stress
The first thing to do if you are dealing with stress is to learn about what you can do to help manage your stress. In part 2, you will learn more about what to avoid in order to reduce the risk of stress.
Here are some excellent daily habits to start doing now that can help with your stress levels:
Do you ever write to yourself? You may think that’s something that young folks do, but everyone has their own unique ideas, thoughts, feelings, and questions. What if you could write down the things that you hope for or the things that you wish for? What if the stress you feel is just stuck in your head?
Journaling is a good way to get to know yourself better. You can start in small doses of 1 to 15 minutes, just free form writing about what’s on your mind. Perhaps you want to describe a moment in your life that was perfectly happy or maybe there is something really troubling you that you want to get out.
Your journal is a completely private place where you can detail whatever is happening right now. For those dealing with intense stress, it may help to write out your fears and concerns in chronological order. You may start to see a pattern or even develop an idea of how to handle those stresses just by writing them down.
Once you start journaling, you can go back and read what you wrote. How could things be different? What if you woke up tomorrow and those stresses were completely forgotten? What would you do instead? You should always try to argue against those stresses, so you can build confidence in taking action and developing goals. You can write these down too, and eventually, those stresses won’t seem as critical as they were before.
Have you ever seen a guided meditation on YouTube? There are thousands of videos that are dedicated to helping you breathe better, focus your mind, and relax. However, you can practice basic meditation on your own to manage your stress every day. Sometimes, the best time for meditation is right when you wake up, especially if you feel the urge to keep sleeping to avoid the day.
How to Begin a Basic Meditation
The first thing you should do is get into a comfortable position. You may want to sit in your favourite chair or just try sitting on the ground with your legs crossed. You should be able to completely relax in this position while not falling asleep. This often involves keeping your back and shoulders straight so you maintain an active posture.
Once in a comfortable position, close your eyes slowly. You don’t want to tighten your face. The goal is to relax every part of your body. Sometimes people stretch or shake out all of their limbs before they settle down to meditate.
The next step is to clear your mind. Stress tries to distract you with bad thoughts and concerns all the time. This is one of the most difficult parts of meditation, but with practice, you can shut off those thoughts.
Tip: Having trouble clearing your mind? You can try this simple mind trick: Close your eyes and picture that you are sitting in a room with four white walls. This place doesn’t recognize current time or events. It’s just the place inside your mind where you are completely free to be just yourself, at peace, and at rest. You don’t need to think about anything in this place, because it won’t affect the white room. It’s a place completely devoid of stress and belongs outside of your traditional existence.
It’s likely that several thoughts will try to push through your meditation. Each time, you can simply acknowledge and “shush” them back into the ether. The goal of meditation is to get to a point where you don’t think about any stress for a long period of time. Some people can go for a minute and others can meditate for hours.
Meditation takes practice, but the longer you meditate, the easier it will be to clear your mind. If you want to set a timer or listen to music, you can use a YouTube meditation video or several meditation apps dedicated to helping you relieve stress.
Exercise is one of the ways that the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends handling stress. For one, it helps you improve your physical condition, and you can also fight obesity, heart issues, diabetes, back problems, and other diseases. Humans need exercise, but there are a lot of conveniences in today’s world that make it seem unnecessary. In fact, why would exercise affect your mental state?
Well, studies have shown that exercise improves focus and increases dopamine levels. You get a little rush from completing an exercise, and it makes your body feel good to work muscle groups and use up your stored energy. If you are constantly feeling tired because of stress, then it’s almost imperative that you start an exercise routine. Your mind is probably tricking you into a lazy state because of fatigue.
Just 20 minutes of exercise per day can help you alleviate stress. There are even a few exercise routines developed specifically for reducing anxiety and getting through fatigue. Here are a few we like best:
- Try the 5 x 30 approach: Walk, jog, dance, or bike three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Burn calories indoors with this routine: 40 jumping jacks, 30 squats, 20 crunches, 10 push-ups. Track your progress.
- Try a 30-minute “fun” exercise routine on YouTube like this one. Sometimes my family just puts on music and has a kitchen dance party. The music is uplifting and it’s fun to be silly with dancing!
- Commit to your exercise goals by setting small daily dedications, such as “I will walk for 20 minutes today” or “I will do 40 jumping jacks before dinner.”
- Create habit chains for exercise, such as this one: “Wake up. Go for a walk or do 10 minutes of yoga. Shower. Eat breakfast. Drink green tea. Get dressed for the day, even if you aren’t going anywhere. ” Starting a healthy routine can be a great way to get yourself out of a mental rut and into a better head space.
Forming healthy exercise habits takes time, but most of all, you have to want to feel better. Part of managing your stress with exercise is hanging on to those feelings of relief and happiness after the workout that make it all worth it. By focusing your mind when you work out, you’ll start to forget why you were stressed in the first place.
Sometimes you just need a break. Whether it’s going for a walk or putting your headphones on to listen to your favourite band, you just need to pull yourself out of the funk. Everyone is different, so not every hobby is going to sync up with your personality.
Try one, or any, of these:
- Take a page from American Splendor and create your own comic about your life. Make light of the issues you’re facing by drawing out characters and scenarios with people in your life. You can keep them all private in your journal if you like!
- Start up a new book. You probably have a list of books that you’ve been meaning to read.
- Pick a trail and hike it. There’s nothing more calming than being in the wilderness sometimes. You’re surrounded by nature, enjoying fresh air, and focusing on your path, instead of your worries.
- Try a new age colouring book and get creative.
- Start cooking for yourself. Whether you want to try a subscription box or love to bake, you’ll get an incredible reward for your efforts: delicious food that you made! Seriously, there’s a sense of pride in creating dishes from scratch!
- Adopt a pet. If you are feeling alone in this world, there are plenty of dogs out there who would love to be your friend. If that’s too high maintenance, try adopting a cat. Animals provide comfort, warmth, and companionship, and studies have shown it can alleviate stress and PTSD.
- Play video games. Perhaps you want to master a game and go out on conquests. There’s no place better to do so than in the digital world of gaming. One study found that both men and women who played games were able to better manage their stress and were less depressed.
- Start painting every day. Seriously, why not? Even if you think you’re not an artist, you can let the brush and paint tell your story. The goal is that you focus on a separate canvas than yourself, painting out your feelings and thoughts, or maybe you could paint a portrait of your
The American Psychological Association recently released a report that shows constantly checking electronic devices is a significant reason for stress in Americans. That makes sense considering that emails, texts, social media, and other notifications are all messages to our brains about something. Could it be that you’re waiting on bad news?
The best way to deal with this is to just unplug. Spend time turning off your phone every night before bed and reading a book instead. There’s nothing that can’t wait, and while it may seem like everything is an emergency, this is one of the biggest reasons that you could be suffering from anxiety.
Parents are having a tough time managing their children’s addiction to technology, and it’s causing a lot of mental stress. Whether it’s checking messages constantly or playing games that keep you wired all night, long-term smartphone use can lead to extremely negative effects, like anxiety, ADD, and ADHD.
If you find yourself constantly checking your phone or email for messages, then you are actually causing more stress to your mind. Instead of focusing on your phone and notifications, take a time out and plan a day where you don’t do anything with your phone.
Think it can’t be done? The best way to find out is to challenge yourself. Once you start believing in the things you can do, the better you’ll feel overall.