Tips on How to Reduce and Re-Channel Stress
For adults in today’s world, daily stress is a certainty. Regardless of your background or situation, you will experience stress at one point or another throughout your day. The real question isn’t whether or not we will be stressed; it’s what we will do to deal with it. Learning how to reduce and re-channel your stress can make all the difference in the world.
Many circumstances in your life change based on how you perceive them. Stress does not have to become a negative in your life; it can provide you with an opportunity to strengthen your resolve and grow. As the saying goes, a smooth sea does not make a skilled sailor. Let’s talk a few tips on how to reduce and re-channel that stress and turn it into something great!
A Primer: Your Body’s Response to Stress
Stress is your body’s reaction to harmful situations. When you perceive a threat, your body will react in a manner that allows you to act to prevent injury. This reaction is called the “fight or flight response.” The fight or flight mechanism causes your heart rate to increase, you begin to breathe quickly, your muscles tighten up, and your blood pressure will rise. Your body takes these steps to prepare you to act.
Stay Active – Use That Impulse!
When the stress mechanism is activated, your body is energized and ready to take on challenges. Put this reaction to good use by remaining active. Certain forms of exercise like boxing training work very well for this, as it is very cathartic by nature. Boxing allows you to unleash all of those negative emotions and pent up stress that has been piling up within you.
Engaging in physical activity makes great use of your energized state, but it also helps calm your nerves and create a sense of well-being. When you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins, which make you feel good and reduce stress. Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? Yep, endorphins. The release of endorphins works to combat the effects of stress and even acts as a pain-reliever. When you’re overstressed, you are likely to lose sleep also. You’ll be happy to learn that regular exercise and endorphins help to promote regular sleeping patterns.
As you see, exercise creates a great opportunity to use stress and channel that drive into something positive. Just be sure to consult with your physician or fitness professional before starting a program. Also, make sure you have the right gear to train properly. If, as in our previous example, you decide to take up boxing, choose the best boxing gloves to prevent hand and wrist injuries—the idea is to feel better, not worse!
Some stressful situations cannot be avoided, and you must learn how to deal with them. There are certain situations that aren’t worth the hassle, however. Some common situations that can increase your stress include:
- Your job – Long hours, tension with other employees/your boss, etc.
- Financial obligations.
- Self-perception and expectations of yourself – It’s important to be reasonable with yourself.
When these aspects of your life are mismanaged, they can become very stressful. If your work situation is causing you undue stress, it may be worth your time to voice your concerns to your supervisor. If you cannot make progress on that end, consider finding another employer. Financial obligations can be stressful as well. Be sure to carefully consider each purchase in an honest manner. Sure, an 80” flat-screen television in the living room seems like a great idea, but can you afford the $2000 price tag without creating any headaches?
Last, we tend to create a lot of our own stressful situations by expecting too much of ourselves. It’s okay to admit that we are made of flesh and bone and that we need help sometimes. Delegating to others around you can help you maintain reasonable expectations and a positive outlook. If you think you’re alone, you’re wrong.
Get Enough Sleep
Most of us need an average of eight hours of sleep per night, but this can change, depending on many variables such as your work schedule or even your exercise schedule. The harder you work, the more rest your body requires. Without enough sleep, you will experience sleep deprivation, which causes physical and mental fatigue. Sleep deprivation also exacerbates the effects of our innate stress response, as it is clinically proven to increase our heart rate and blood pressure. Sleep deprivation also hinders cognitive function and can increase your perception of stress. By securing a good night’s sleep each and every night, you position yourself to be able to handle stress more effectively.
Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol
If you’re facing very stressful times in your life, you might be tempted to reach for any of these. Unfortunately, they don’t improve situations. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. They exaggerate that fight or flight mechanism that we discussed earlier. If anything, your best bet is to aim for something that calms you down (yoga, exercise), as opposed to amplifying that response. Alcohol is a depressant in larger quantities and a stimulant in smaller amounts and can cause a number of health issues if consumed in excess. Click here to find out how alcohol can affect your quality of sleep.
At the end of the day, your body and mind will be happiest if you simply stay active with exercise, avoid stressors, get enough sleep, and avoid large quantities of stimulants and alcohol.