Each day can bring about new stresses, whether they’re financial, physical, or emotional. If you’re not careful, these issues can ruin your mental health. Fortunately, daily stressors can be reduced with planning, mindfulness, and determination. Here are a few ways that you can attack daily stress head-on.
1. Improve Your Money Management
The first tip for relieving daily stress has to do with your finances. These days, having a credit card is almost too convenient. And the spending that comes with unchecked credit card use can lead to stress-inducing levels of debt. Though retail therapy might temporarily relieve some tension, the cost can be incredibly detrimental to one’s credit.
It’s hard to experience moments of calm when you feel overwhelmed by debt. Instead, use a debit card to keep yourself out of financial harm’s way. Because you’re limited to your own funds, you can’t spend beyond your means without meaning to.
2. Up Your Exercise Quotient
Fighting against daily stress starts not only with a strong mind, but a strong body. With added life stressors can come unhealthy habits, like binge eating or drinking. One can also lose sleep, which doesn’t allow the body enough time to repair itself each day. Being in good physical condition can help combat these harmful effects of stress.
Exercise will increase your stamina, boost your confidence, and prevent the stress hormone cortisol from reaching damaging highs. The norepinephrine and serotonin released through exercise are also natural mood boosters and pain relievers. Even something like a short walk or jog can raise those hormone levels and make you feel less stressed.
3. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
A cup of coffee might be just what you need to make it through a long, stressful day. A reasonable caffeine intake can lift your mood and energy levels as well. But consuming excessive amounts of caffeine is probably one of the worst things you can do for stress.
When a person is stressed, their heart rate rises, which can cause anxiety. Caffeine does the same thing by dilating blood vessels and releasing uncomfortable levels of norepinephrine. While moderate levels of this neurotransmitter boost alertness, too much will create a fight-or-flight response. That’s hardly what you need when you’re already anxious.
If you love coffee, cutting back might be a problem. But there are always options when you’re feeling too caffeinated. To alleviate unneeded stress while still getting your coffee fix, try half-caf or decaf. You could even switch to tea, which is full of antioxidants and vitamins.
4. Write Everything Down
If you’ve ever felt a fog settle over you when you’re anxious, you’re not alone. It can be incredibly difficult to remember things when you’re stressed out. Memories have a hard time forming, as short-term memories don’t get encoded into the brain. This means that when you’re under mental strain, you might remember something for a few minutes or hours. But the next day, that memory is gone.
To help with the brain fog created by stress, start making lists. Writing down both important and unimportant things will be key to lessening your daily anxiety. Without having to constantly ask for reminders, you’ll feel more independent and less scatterbrained. This will improve your confidence in yourself and reduce your stress level.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are the main cause of physiological stress. You may experience symptoms like a racing heart, clenched jaws, or chronic aches and pains. As you sleep, the body naturally lowers cortisol levels that rise throughout the day. That makes sleep a critical tool for combating stress.
Unfortunately, when you’re tense, you might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can leave you exhausted, unmotivated, or depressed in the daytime. To get the sleep you need to fight stress, develop a soothing nighttime routine. Meditating for 15 minutes or taking a warm bath might be just what you need to drift off to dreamland.
6. Set Boundaries
Another reason you might be stressed on a daily basis is that you’re stretching yourself too thin. People can begin to rely on you for all kinds of reasons. While you want to be helpful, constantly coming to the rescue of friends, family, and co-workers can drain you emotionally. This can cause resentment, exhaustion, and the feeling of being overwhelmed. It can also prevent you from caring for yourself in a reasonable way.
To lessen the stress this causes, you need to set boundaries. Tell your co-worker that your current workload prevents you from taking on their project. Or tell a friend that you can’t pick them up from the airport the night before your big presentation. Saying no might be difficult and make you uncomfortable at first. But you’ll soon be less stressed when you’re bearing less of other people’s loads.
7. Talk About Your Problems
If you’re suffering from daily stresses, you may not want to talk about them. You could feel like you’re making yourself a burden or exposing your vulnerability by sharing your feelings. But neuroscience says that talking about your stress could help make it disappear.
Researchers at UCLA found that labeling feelings shifts emotions to a different part of our brain. Putting words to our feelings reduces activation of the amygdala, the portion of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Once labeled emotions move away from the amygdala, they go to the prefrontal cortex. This is the portion of the brain responsible for deeper critical thinking and intellectualizing.
8. Take a Break
If you’re stressed out throughout the day, maybe it’s because you’re going nonstop. You could be running around taking care of kids, or maybe you’re working more than one job. You go from task to task at the office, and before you know it, it’s 3:30 and you haven’t eaten lunch. Whatever the reason, if you’re too busy, stress can pile on quickly.
If the daily stress is too much, one way to cope is to take a five-minute break. Don’t look at your phone or think about your next moves. Instead, walk around the building or the block. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea or take a moment to meditate. This kind of pause can help you recenter yourself and refocus on the next task at hand.
These eight stress management tips are just a few ways you can begin to feel better on a daily basis. By caring for your mind, body, spirit, and wallet, your stress levels may begin to decrease. By being proactive and making choices that benefit you, your stress will be lower in no time.