Seven easy hacks for stress management

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Stress is a silent killer. It can affect your lifestyle in a variety of ways. Constant stress is unpleasant, and also comes with health risks. That’s because when you’re highly stressed, your body goes into flight-or-fight mode. Compiled from a blog on healthcare company Kaiser Permanente, here are some tips to try out for stress management.

1. Smile

Smiling is not only comforting to those around you, it comforts you too. Smiling naturally improves your mood and prompts the release of endorphins, your own body’s natural stress-reliever and painkiller. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, give it a try.  As meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

2. Make a plan

It’s easy to lose sight of long-term goals when you’re drained by day-to-day tasks, but keep your eye on the prize. Have a two-year plan and a five-year plan with definite goals and plans for achieving them. Make sure to set time aside for vacations too. Having something fun to look forward to can help you stay positive throughout your busy days. Try writing down these plans and goals so you can refer to them at moments when you might have lost track of the big picture. A 2011 study described in Time Magazine found that using planning to fight stress before it even starts may be the single most effective stress-management skill.

3. Let it out

While you have that pen out, you can journal about your stress. Get it all out. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing in a fancy leather-bound journal or on t-shirt cardboard. It feels good to vent your stress appropriately.

4. Visualise calm

Sports psychologists train athletes to visualize success. The placekicker imagines a 50-yard field goal splitting the uprights. The golfer pictures a hole-in-one on a par three. In the same way, you can use visualisation to calm yourself. Next time you’re stressed, take a moment for yourself and imagine that you’re in a calm, peaceful place. Construct the little visual details, listen to the sounds, smell the smells.

This is actually a form of meditation, and numerous studies have suggested that meditation, in all its various forms, promotes a calm, positive outlook

5. Rate your stress

Each time you’re feeling stressed, think about the root cause. What are you worried about? Take a breath and objectively rate the severity of your concerns on a one to 10 scale. You could find that your mind is making a mountain of a molehill. This recognition may help you let go of some of that anxiety. Rating your stress on a periodic basis can also help you gain insights about your stress and its causes.

6. Don’t be afraid to say, “No

One of the greatest causes of stress is feeling like you have too much to do. Over-committing ourselves is easy because we naturally want to please others. To keep yourself from getting overloaded, you should prepare to politely decline requests if you need to. There’s a limited number of hours in a day, and you just can’t do everything.

7. Smell the roses

Scent is the sense most closely linked to emotion. This is the basis of aromatherapy but you don’t need an aromatherapist to enjoy the pleasant mood-lifting benefit of scents. Find essential oils that you enjoy, such as eucalyptus, chamomile, rose, or lavender. Inhale their aromas deeply, careful not to ingest any or spill on your skin.

One study looked at stress in a highly frazzled group —new mothers—and found that “inhaling the scent of lavender for four weeks can prevent stress, anxiety, and depression after childbirth.” Similarly, a one-month study of hospital workers, who also are prone to stress and burnout, found that daily use of essential oils reduced stress levels from 6.3 to 5.2 on a one to 10 scales.

 

 





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