How To Relieve Stress: Comments From People Who’ve Overcome Stress
How To Relieve Stress: 34 Comments From Therapists, Psychologists & People Who’ve Overcome Stress
Stress is staggeringly common in the US, with an earlier study from the American Psychological Association showing that 77% of people “regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress” and 33% of people “feel they are living with extreme stress” — and in the current climate, those numbers could be even worse today.
For the many people who suffer from stress, this is a compilation of comments on how to relieve stress that therapists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals who have extensive experience treating patients with stress have sent us, as well as comments from various people who have found a method for dealing with their stress that helps them. I’ve summarized the main point in each comment below, along with a link to the full comment(s) for each point:
Practice deep breathing exercises (link, link)
Go through a process of listing your stresses, consider what has worked in the past, and examine resources, supports and resiliency skills (link)
We may hold stress in our physical bodies in addition to the mind, and you might like to consider a therapist trained things like visceral manipulation and craniosacral therapy (link)
Develop strong relationships (link) and try to let yourself be surrounded by your loved ones (link)
Stress is often a result of habitual patterns of behavior, and it’s possible to teach your brain to switch focus to a chosen new response (link)
Practice mindfulness (link, link)
Implement self-care into your routine where you schedule daily time for you to do something that makes you happy (link). It’s great if that’s something creative (link, link). And don’t feel bad
Exercise (link, link), and consider doing it outside (link)
Take a short trip in your mind with guided imagery (link)
Remember that no matter what happens, you always have a choice in how to respond (link)
Notice your stress and accept it (link). You can label your feelings (link)
Get up early and meditate (link, link)
Write every worry you have down, divide them into those you can control and those you can’t, and chip away at the things you can control (link, link)
Take cold showers (link)
Plan ahead (link)
If your stress is a result of feeling overwhelmed from having too much to do, a project management app might help (link)
Disconnect from technology when you can and focus on real face-to-face relationships (link)
Working from home might help you (if you can work from home) (link)
Find ways to laugh, and if you can, laugh at what stresses you (link)
If you can, physically remove yourself from the stressful environment you find yourself in (link)
I invite you to take some time to read through the comments below in their entirety and give them some thought. If you’re one of the millions of people suffering from the negative effects of stress, there’s a good chance there will be at least one or two tips here that will help you get on the right track to relieve your stress.
I specialize in helping millennials and Gen Z young people find peace. Stress is a common difficulty that people are facing, especially right now with the pandemic. One activity that can help decrease stress is deep breathing. I recommend that people start with 1 to 2 minutes of breathing in and out with deep breaths, allowing any thought to come up, and then moving their attention back to their breathing. Intentionally engaging your breath helps you to feel regulated and to fight overwhelm. This is also a simple way to introduce meditation into your life. Meditation expands internal space in your mind and helps to manage thoughts and emotions, including feelings of stress. People experiencing high levels of stress can benefit form seeking therapy as a way to help express and release emotion.
--Courtney L. Jewett, MS, MA, LPC, center yourself therapy
I am a psychotherapist, licensed social worker, interfaith minister, journalist, and speaker with four decades of experience in the mental health field.
Many of my clients experience the impact of stress on a daily basis, some as a result of work-related pressures, others connected with inter-personal relations. More recently, clients are aware of the ways state-of-the-world-itis is affecting them. They note increased levels of anxiety and depression, escalation in anger, turning to substances to self-medicate at times. Additionally, they see exacerbation of medical conditions.
To address these concerns,
I ask them to list their stressors and sometimes reference the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm
From that point, I inquire about what has worked in facing the stressors and what has not helped.
We then examine their resources, supports, and resiliency skills.
I suggest activities such as fitness, journaling, music (listening and creating), time in nature, time with loved ones, gardening, creating something of value to them, engaging in volunteerism, meditation, yoga, bubble baths, massage, reaching out to people with whom they haven't spoken in a while.
In this time of COVID-19 and its accompanying chaos, I suggest a news fast rather than doomscrolling, seeking information from reliable sources, steering clear of conspiracy-laden posts.
--Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW, Opti-Mystical
I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy and specialize in the physical symptoms of stress. I am trained in several specialized mind body techniques.
It is well know that we hold stress in our physical bodies so when we only address stress from the mental aspect we are missing an entire system that has the potential to more fully release that stress.
I highly recommend working with a therapist that is trained in both visceral manipulation and craniosacral therapy. Both techniques work on both the physical and energetic or emotional bodies to help you processes and release stress fully from your system.
This work was life changing for me. I wanted to be able to provide otherS with the relief I experienced so I chose to go through the additional training to become skilled in the techniques.
In addition to the physical work I find clients have even more success when they’re willing to address the mental aspect by using biofeedback during meditation. I use a tool that measures brainwaves, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body sway for both myself and my clients. I find it helps guide meditations to a deeper level and also lets you see how your body is reacting to meditation which seems to render more consistent practice.
--Dr. Sarah Vose, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS, Body And Mind Physical Therapy And Wellness
Emotional support and social interaction are of utmost importance to humans feeling connected, supported, and loved. Emotional happiness/connection increases the release of oxytocin, decreasing stress and feeling supported by others. By developing strong healthy relationships, we reduce our risk for high stress in addition to substance use as a coping mechanism. Many studies have been conducted concluding the importance of nurture and the impact on one’s mental health thus take the time to nurture yourself and each other.
--Marian Abdelmessih LPC, LCADC, CCTP, NCC, ACS, Footprints to Recovery
Stress in our lives is often the result of habitual patterns of behavior that have taught us over time to respond in a given way. As we were growing and developing, we learned through schooling or the behaviors of others around us, to react to certain circumstances in certain ways. In order to overcome the stress response that we have been conditioned to have, we have to learn to break those habitual patterns. One of the ways to do this is through bilateral stimulation.
By teaching our brains how to shift focus from a natural, or learned response, to a chosen new response, we can take control of the programmed responses and start to change our behavior. Specifically with stress, we can teach ourselves to respond from a place of calm and certainty instead of stress and panic.
To teach your brain how to shift focus, I recommend the following exercise.
Start by sitting comfortably and placing your hands in a cactus or goal post position. Turn your head and eyes to look at your right hand. Continue training your eyes on your right hand while you turn your head to the left. Hold the focus of your eyes on your right hand as long as possible, while you turn your head to the left. Once you’ve reached the limit of focus on the right, switch sides and do the same exercise on the left. Repeat this exercise, switching sides, several times.
By practicing this exercise, you can teach your brain to resist its natural response, similar to how you resist moving your eyes to focus the same direction your head is turning. Teaching your brain to resist its programmed response gives you the opportunity to create a new, more desirable response.
This bilateral stimulation exercise can be used during a stress response to call the brain in the moment, or as conditioning when you’re not in a stress response, to avoid a stress reaction in the future.
--Dr. Christopher Thoma, NeuroRedeem
I have overcome tough times in my life through the power of mindfulness. I teach, practice and recommend this to clients as well. Mindfulness is having moment to moment awareness of what is taking place in the “right here and right now.” When we have a heightened sense of awareness of the world and ourselves, we are able to use the space in between a trigger and a response by taking mindful breaths which can provide clarity to think things through. This can help us keep in control and appropriately respond to the situation at hand, instead of “exploding.” The change in our reactions to stressful situations doesn’t happen overnight, of course, which is why it’s called a “mindfulness practice.” Mindfulness helps us realize the things that truly matter and it is also supported by science which shows how it can change the way our brains respond to stress.
--Vanessa De Jesus Guzman, Licensed Counselor and Mindfulness Instructor, Free to Be Mindful
Stopping and taking a few quick breaths will quickly take the edge off. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel when you get good at it. Respect only these five steps:
With your hands in your lap and your feet on the ground, sit in a relaxed place. Or you could just lie down.
Close your eyes.
Imagine a quiet spot to yourself. It can be on the beach, in a beautiful grassy field or anywhere that gives you a feeling of peace.
Little by little, take deep breaths in and out.
Do so for 5 to 10 minutes.
--Dr. Vikram Tarugu, The Daily Meditation
From personal experience and from observing my clients, I have noticed that the most important thing for handling and overcoming stress is implementing self-care into your weekly routine. I suggest carving time into your calendar as if you would for a doctor's appointment or work. Self-care should be seen as a necessity. It could be as simple as putting 30-60 minutes aside daily for you to read, exercise, play a game on your phone, check your social media, connect with a friend, watch something on Netflix or maybe, you'd prefer to use that time to disconnect yourself from the world entirely by silencing your phone for a short break. Self-care will look different for everyone. As long as it's something you do for yourself that makes you happy and it pulls you away from your responsibilities than you are doing it correctly.
These are the things that will help you become more self-aware and help you avoid compassion fatigue and burn out. Instilling some self-care is important because too often life passes us by and we forget to just stop and prioritize our needs. This is essential so that you can perform at your best, so you can love at your fullest and so you can manage your stress daily.
--Kasia Ciszewski Ms.Ed., LPC, Charleston Counseling Services
Exercise outside! While working from home, many of us are not getting to experience the little things that a typical work day holds. A typical work day brings exposure to sunlight on the drive in, local scenery, walking around the office, and talking with co-workers. While we may be able to talk to co-workers online, everything else is neglected. This neglect leads to irritability and pent-up energy. Exercising outside allows you to boost vitamin D from sunlight, increase dopamine to improve your mood, and appreciate the joys of nature.
--Jared Heathman, MD Psychiatrist, yourfamilypsychiatrist.com
One thing that always works for me is guided imagery. Guided imagery is like taking a short vacation in your mind. It can involve imaging yourself being in your happy place. For example, it may be picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you.
Guided imagery can be done with a recording where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene. Or, once you know how to do it yourself, you can practice guided imagery on your own.
Simply close your eyes for a minute and walk yourself through a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you'd engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you're really there. After a few minutes, open your eyes and return to the present moment.
--William Taylor, VelvetJobs
Remember that, no matter what may be happening to and around us, we have a choice in how we respond. We can choose to get angry, feel frustrated, become despondent, or we can CHOOSE to step back and look at the situation calmly. What does it really mean for me? Am I directly impacted in a physical way? Do I have the ability to handle this? If not, do I have support from others who can help me?
Stress is almost always a spiral response. We tend to catastrophize. We react to one thing, and then create a stress story that includes other details until pretty soon, we're overwhelmed. It's easy to get trapped in the what if? scenarios we construct out of fear and frustration, but we always have the ability to CHOOSE to slow down, breathe, and see the reality more clearly.
Here's an example of a stress story: You're late to an important meeting. Your boss is going to be mad! Your colleagues are going to lose respect for you. Now you won't get that promotion you were hoping for. You really need that promotion! And it's all because that barista was so slow to get your coffee ready. What was his problem, anyway? Now, your career is screwed because of him. It's all his fault! Wait, you didn't really need that coffee. You should have waited. Oh, crap. This is your fault. You've ruined everything, just like you always do...
STOP! Being late happens, but you can choose to respond calmly and professionally, or burst in like a tornado, interrupting the meeting in a distracting way that is erratic and unprofessional. Take a few deep breaths before entering the room. Apologize calmly and quietly. Jump right into the meeting. Afterward, talk with the boss or those who may have been impacted by your lateness. Apologize again, assuring them that you will more than make up for this lapse. Remain calm throughout, rather than sounding frantic. Your response to being late is what reveals how professional and reliable you are.
--Maya Frost, MayaFrost.com
To combat stress the first thing I did was to acknowledge that I am stressed. For a very long time, I didn't admit that to myself and pretended that I feel ok. Noticing your stress signals and how your body reacts is the first step in accepting stress as a normal part of life. I no longer see stress as a bad thing, I see it as information that I'm doing something I care about. When I don't fight with it and accept it, I see it disappear a lot sooner. I also reflect on my patterns and notice when I'm more likely to get stressed out. The more I see it as a pattern and information, the less impact it has on my life. I recommend you start noticing when you are stress and noticing if you are judging it as a bad thing. The more you do it, the less bad it will seem.
--Anna Bartosik, Woofs and Purrs
I work two jobs and have two young boys at home. It’s not easy getting pulled in so many different directions. Luckily, I’ve found a way to cope with stress before the day even starts. Here’s what I would recommend:
Get up early and meditate.
Waking up before the rest of the family gives me some much-needed alone time. Meditating clears my mind and helps keep me balanced for the rest of the day.
A guided meditation app helps keep me on track. The app allows me to choose exactly how long I’d like my meditation to be. (I use Headspace.)
Even if you wake up only 5 minutes earlier and use that time to meditate in peace, it will be worth it.
Since waking up early and meditating, I notice a huge improvement in my mood and ability to cope with stressful situations.
--Lisa Torelli-Sauer, Sensible Digs
As a meditation teacher, I personally use a combination of meditation and mindfulness to keep a handle on stress.
I’ll start with a meditation session in the morning. Usually this will take approximately twenty minutes, and I’ll usually use a breathing method such as Anapanasati (mindfulness of breath). This is generally considered one of the best meditation techniques for relaxation because it calms the mind and slows thoughts. By spending twenty minutes meditating, I’m able to find equanimity of mind.
The second part is making sure you stay relaxed. Once you’ve relaxed by meditating, you will want to monitor your mind and emotions to prevent stress from creeping up on you. To do this, I like to take five minute mindful breaks every now and then. These are simple little practice sessions where I’ll tune in to the present moment to refocus my mind. I might do this by mindfully listening to music, practicing mindful eating at lunch, or doing some gentle mindful stretching.
Through a combination of meditation and mindfulness, it’s possible to relax the mind and stay relaxed the whole day.
--Paul Harrison, The Daily Meditation
When you are troubled by stuff, talking about them will help you raising the pain. You can talk to members of your family, friends, a trusted clergyman, your doctor or a therapist.
And you might speak to yourself, too. It's called self-talk and that's something we all do. But to help self-talk reduce stress, you need to make sure it's positive rather than negative.
So listen carefully to what you think or do while you are getting stressed out. When you send a bad thought to yourself, then transform it into a constructive one. Do not think I can't handle that, for example, to yourself. Alternatively, reassure yourself: I can do this, or I'm doing the best I can.
--Matt Scott, Termite Survey
My best tip to handle stress is to exercise.
At the lowest point of my life I didn’t know what to do. We had no money, I felt like my marriage was falling apart, and a variety of other things. It was spinning out of control really. I decided to take up running because I had heard it could help relieve stress. I’m not going to say my problems went away but I was able to manage the stress of them 100 times better. It gave me the outlet I needed to go pound the pavement and just be in my world and forget about the problems. It made them all more manageable when I got home.
I’ve done the same thing with The corona outbreak and running. It’s helped me escape ground hogs day and go out and relieve the daily stress of life.
--Michele Tripple, Confessions of Parenting
Like many business owners in these turbulent times, I have experienced a high level of stress when the pandemic hit. Our sales plunged. We had to shift to a remote work. We needed to restructure and retrain our sales team to sell virtually, find new sales channels and customers.
I didn’t know where to start. Everything seemed equally essential, so I was overwhelmed with the volume of work that I had and could not prioritize. I had thoughts like: “I can’t get out of this crisis” “I’ve got to do too much, meet too many deadlines or else”, “I’ve got to pay my employees, contractors, suppliers.”
Then, I remembered a saying, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” So I put every worry I have on paper and distanced myself from them. I wrote every issue that bothered me. Then I divided them into those that I can control and those I cant. I grouped things I can control by priority and picked up one task a day that is the most important and did it first.
I stopped feeling pressure and felt that I accomplished something meaningful every day. I documented my wins and every positive action I took. Every success made me more confident and gave me the strength to move to a new task every day.
Before using this technique, I worried about what I was not getting done. But I realized the more you worry, the less time you have to concentrate on what’s important. Now I am focused on what I am doing and what is in front of me.
--JP Brousseau, Phoneloops
My main piece of advice for handling stress is you need to carve out time to take care of yourself. So many people put themselves last and their health suffers for it. An outcome of that is more stress and less of an ability to combat it. I recommend deep power breathing and a cold shower. Power breaths are breathing in as hard as you can through the nose then out through the mouth. After about 20 breaths you breathe our and then hold your breath for as long as possible then a recover breath in for about 25 seconds.. This breath work takes about 6-7 minutes in length. After wards you can hit the cold shower. There are numerous benefits but one key piece is the mental challenge as well as putting an external stressor on the body. This process will create a ton of forward momentum in your day and help combat stress. I've followed Wim Hof for years but modified part of his method to meet what works for me, I'm 620 straight days of a cold shower or ice bath.
--Jeff Wickersham, Morning Fire For Entrepreneurs
I’ve had a lot of stress over the course of my life—though that doesn’t make me unique, most people face significant stressors from time to time. That said, at the beginning of the pandemic my clients (nonprofits needing a grant writer or those in need of compliance consultations) dried up as the sector came to a grinding halt while everyone figured out how to move forward.
My coping mechanisms focus on both the body and the mind. First, exercise: starting to bike ten miles a day really helped my mental health. Additionally, finding creative outlets has been phenomenal. Using my iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil, and the ProCreate app to create digital drawings has been great—so has dipping back into creative writing.
Those combined to allow me the energy and clarity to build an already thriving nonprofit working to end homelessness. A lofty goal to be sure, but an attainable one—especially as more and more people are empathetic to housing insecurity due to COVID-19 related economic complications.
--James Ryan, Time For Homes
After my standard exams, I got into a very competitive high school. It was difficult to compete against bright students all around the country. As my grades have always been exemplary, I was not used to suddenly not being the top student. I was starting to fail my tests and I was utterly disappointed with myself. It was truly one of the most stressful years of my life. Academic/School stress is not taken seriously these days but it is actually really serious. Especially when it happens at such a young age. Those mid-teen years was surely a dark period of my life. My mind was constantly surrounded by negative thoughts. I felt lonely and empty. But mostly I was just constantly stressed about academics and my future. How am I going to graduate? How can I get into university? But things started to get better the next year.
It was the year we have our boarding program where the cohort is required to stay in the school's hostel. That’s when I got to spend a lot of time with my friends. My best experiences were surely from that year. I studied with my friends, I played with my friends, I ate with my friends. I slowly started to not feel much stress even when it was exam period. Doing it with friends made me feel more comfortable. I even saw improvements in my grades. I was a lot happier and stress-free
So, my advice is simply to let yourself be surrounded by your loved ones. My school’s boarding program gave me that opportunity but honestly, you can do it yourself. I still do get stressed these days. And my go-to way of tackling it is calling up one of my friends for a quick lunch date. Isolating yourself only makes things worse. That was what I had been doing during that stressful period of my life. I was stuck in a vicious cycle and made myself drown in my own negative thoughts. So, do yourself a favor and spend more time with your family and friends!
--Sindhu Mohan, Highly Basic
As a mom of three kids and two pups, I found myself overwhelmed when the school shut down back in March. My husband works 60+ hours during the week and he's considered an essential worker in South Florida (car business).
Working from home hasn't been easy for me, but I found that when I plan ahead, I'm less overwhelmed with everything.
Whether it's planning meals for the week, our food shopping list or time to work around our family's scheduled -- everything seemed to fall into place when I sat down to write.
I noticed that whenever I had a stressful day, it would be on the days I didn't plan ahead/didn't have control over the day. That's when I'd throw in self-care before bed. I'd pick up a book, do my skincare routine.
As the months went by, I noticed whenever I took care of myself in the morning -- worked out, showered, had breakfast, etc. -- I felt better. The little things like spilled milk or toys on the floor didn't bother me. The more I focused on taking care of myself, the better I became with my kids, the dogs, and my husband.
--Fatima Torres, Motherhood Through My Eyes
Whenever I feel stressed whether personally or professionally, pausing gives me an opportunity to take a few deep breaths to anchor into this moment then check-in at that moment/day/week: what do I need, what is my capacity truly, what changes or shifts do I need to make to feel less stressed? I got better at saying no to taking on additional things and going to things when I was at capacity and doing less while creating extra space for when changes outside of our control happen.
Also, making time to rest and play is key to counteracting stress. We live in a society where it values overworking and filling up our schedules with things to do, which are ingredients for stress and burn out. To handle and overcome stress is to be countercultural by doing less. There are some afternoons my head and/or body feels so worn out, giving myself permission to take a 20-minute nap revitalizes me. Or putting on my favorites songs where I feel most alive and dance away and/or sing like no one is watching. Taking a hot shower or bath with scented candles and playlist on. Cuddling up to a book or film. Walking outside and feeling my feet on the grass or earth.
Now, each time life throws a curveball, instead of reacting, I pause and check-in and choose how to respond.
--Phuong Thao, The Uncaged Path
When you notice you are stressed, label the feeling. Using just a few words, you can quickly pause the stress response. Brain MRI studies (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070622090727.htm) have found that labeling our negative emotions is like turning down the volume on our stress response. Just saying, “I feel anxious” or “I am overwhelmed” pumps the breaks on our emotional reaction, making it possible to quickly return to a baseline state where you can calmly address the stressor.
--Stephanie Harrison, The New Happy
The best ways to alleviate stress aren't quick fixes, but practices that reduce stress and our reactions to stress over time. For example, instead of doing yoga/meditation once a week, do it every day. Thus you carve out a safe space in your life to recuperate from stress.
A lot of stress derives from shoulds so an antidote to stress exists within us in our own reaction to our inner voices. Many of these voices or shoulds come from childhood messaging. Be vigilant with yourself and replace shoulds with supportive language that shows you respect your own thoughts and cherish your own feelings. Sometimes we are so stressed, we can't think of anything positive. In that case, think of nothing, or visualize a blast of white light. If you can, bring that light into your body.
Sometimes we have to let stress wash over us and not attach any stories to it. In that case, take care of yourself by engaging in yin activities that make you feel better: taking a bath, getting a massage, even just starting out a window. Whatever activity is pleasurable and an end in itself is appropriate. When you feel better, you will be able to face your stressors with a clear head.
--Chloe Ballatore, chloesconsciousnesstraining.squarespace.com
As a mental health expert, I believe that if you can’t avoid a stressful situation, then try to change it. Find out the ways which you can change so that problem doesn’t appear in the future. It can be done to change the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Stress can reduce if you express your feeling instead of not sharing them up. If someone, at home or workplace, is bothering you, then the best way is to communicate your concerns openly and respectfully. If you don’t express your feelings, resentment will build, and the situation can become worse or remain the same.
Another right way of managing stress is not to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are definitely beyond our control, and we cannot change people’s behaviour, particularly. Rather than stressing out over them, try to focus on your goals and on the things you can control. Stay away from uncontrollable matters in your life, which will surely help you to stay from stress.
--Shawn Lockery, InVivo Biosystems
The main way I help my clients overcome stress is by 1) helping them uncover and learn to figure out what is the true cause of their stress and then 2) respond to it both practically and physically/mentally in the healthiest and most effective way possible.
This can involve helping them to asses what's affecting their physiology (educating them on / adjusting their eating, drinking, or sleeping habits) and then using the ability to rewire neural pathways during hypnotherapy in the ways needed to help them adjust their mindset and behaviors to improve their lifestyle. Hypnotherapy can help a client learn greater emotional intelligence skills during the consultation portion of the session and then adjust their mindset and behaviors during the integration portion to conclude the session. Our primal minds are made to react to situations we find threatening in very specific physical ways because of our history of having to survive predators. While appropriate for most of human history, these reactions are hardly useful in most current situations we face today. It can take effort and practice to teach the mind and body how to respond from our prefrontal cortex as opposed to engaging our amygdala and limbic system (the parts of the brain in charge of our fight, flight, or freeze responses). An effective guided or self led hypnotherapy session teaches the mind how to do just that. So I lead my clients in breakthrough experiences and then teach them tools or techniques they can use on their own.
--Kristin Rivas, C.Ht, Mind Talk Hypnosis
My most profound advice for dealing with stress, particularly stressful moments as they arise is to find a creative-driven outlet that is very easily accessible. For myself, it's music. I keep my headphones and an active music streaming account with me at all times when I am out and about or even dealing with stress at home or with work. Even as I write this I am jamming out to my playlists.
I use the music to help me channel stress into more positive possibilities. Sometimes I'll dance, do VCC or BFP exercises, other times, just nod my head to the beat, but regardless, my stress management all begins with music and its effects on our physical brain.
The more intense the stress, the more immersed into the music and my physical activity I become which ultimately makes me stronger physically and mentally over time. So I literally benefit from the stress every time.
--Michelle L. Vargas, Polykinetics
When it comes to staying stress-free, especially when you're working from home or in the midst of troubling circumstances, the struggle against procrastination can lead to even more stress. When the garden needs tending or you're about to remodel the kitchen, a million things can spirit you away from your daily work-related tasks. After all, you can always do it later, right? Wrong! We all know that later can easily turn into today or tomorrow, and before you know it, the project is late and your stress levels have risen exponentially. That's where utilizing a project-management app comes into play! Whether you opt for Asana, Trello, Podio or a variety of others, you'll be able to easily see your day's tasks at a glance, as well as even assign tasks to other members of your team. This can greatly reduce stress as keeping your projects organized is one more thing that can be taken off your plate. That red late due date is usually enough to remind you that business work comes first. The rest of your home improvements or closet organizing can come later.
--Alexandra Zamolo, BEEKEEPER
Exercise has shown over and over again through the years that it provides much more than just a great body when swimsuit season rolls around. The effects that it can have over your entire well-being are undeniable. Have you ever heard of someone going for a run to let off some steam? Or, what about going to the gym to clear my head? The reason that these sayings are such a part of our culture is because fitness as a form of stress-relief is a real thing, and there are a number of reasons for that.
When the body is in excellent physical shape, that can also pass over to the mind. Think of this along the lines of how cleaning your closet can help clean your mind, and free it from clutter as well. If you're taking good care of your body through exercise and eating right, then this places your mind in a totally different set than if you're sitting on the couch and eating potato chips. Healthy body=healthy mind.
Plus if you're given to anxiety over your weight or appearance, then the best way to combat that is through daily exercise. And if stress is a regular part of your life, then looking and feeling your best will at least erase the worries that come with judgement over your appearance.
Many people go straight to cardio, such as running, or perhaps swimming or walking. But, kettlebells workout routines have a very calming effect, as one allows the swinging of the kettlebells to relax the mind and relieve stress and anxiety. Whichever method works for you, just be sure to stick with it!
--Blake Sutton, Electrical Knowledge
My favorite hack is to disconnect from technology and focus on cultivating human, face to face relationships when possible. Meeting for coffee or lunch even virtually not only allows you to refuel and recharge but it also can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. and it is a great way to get to know people better, their interests, hobbies, and dreams. I have found that building relationships is what drives my business and technology supports them once they are solidified. Technology helps advance the conversation but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time.
--Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
I've been blessed at this point in my life to have found a work-life balance. It's not perfect, but I'm in a much better situation than I was years ago.
Before I started working from home, I was a software engineer. I worked long hours, lots of overtime and rarely saw my family. The straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was in the last year of my job - I was struggling with sickness, one of my kids was having a hard time, my wife lost her job and I was completely maxed out.
I didn't know what I was going to do. Therapy was a life saver, of course, but I had to do a lot of soul searching until I realized something had to give. Working from home isn't for everyone, and being an entrepreneur comes with its own stresses. But I learned that it was the best possible answer for me.
--Dave Pedley, Your Cub
Make a list of all the things that are causing you stress, no matter how massive or trivial they may seem. Once you’ve finished this list, separate it into the things you can change and the things you can’t. Next, come up with a plan of attack for addressing each of the items you have control over and begin to implement them one at a time. What I found was that by fixing the problems I was able to, my stress over the external factors was easier to manage.
--Darrell Rosenstein, The Rosenstein Group
My first tip is to find ways to laugh and if you can, to laugh at what stresses you. I have both personal and professional examples to share.
There is something ridiculous in almost every situation and an opportunity to revel in the ridiculous.
A personal example - I decided to use the initial shut-in months to learn to play the ukulele. I made two quick discoveries: 1) I am pretty terrible at the ukulele and 2) my involuntary housemates (husband and twin teenagers) do not have a finessed appreciation for the musical arts. Did I quit? heck no! I took my ukulele and practiced in our car which was parked outside our home. I even videotaped a few practices for future leverage on how unappreciated my musical talents were. Sadly, my playing has not dramatically improved but there have been many moments of laughter.
A professional example - now that I work with children and families remotely via telehealth, we've tried to lighten moments of stress with humor as well. For example, clients can now dress up for our telehealth sessions. For families, meals can sometimes become a moment of stress. So families have designated dress-up meal times as well. Turns out it's hard to be really angry with someone if you or they are wearing a clown nose or several wigs and a hat. It's easier to confront a stressful scenario if we've given it a ridiculous name that diffuses its 'power' to be seem stressful.
Studies show that when we can externalize our feelings - even feelings such as stress - we can better observe ourselves and then decide how to handle the situation in which those feelings have emerged. We all experience stressful situations, but we do not have to 'be' the stress.
Humor is a great equalizer, humble-izer, diffuser of tension and jiggles up our creative problem-solving parts of our brain that a stress response can sometimes freeze.
--Stefanie Haug, LICSW, StefanieHaug.com
The most actionable tip available for handling and overcoming stress is to physically remove yourself from the stressful environment which you find yourself in. The problem with stress is that often, when left untreated, it can compound - becoming worse and worse, until it poses a genuine threat to your health and wellbeing.
By removing yourself from the stressful environment that you're in, you not only give your mind a break from the stress you're experiencing - you're also given an opportunity to reflect. This detached reflection can help you to work on solutions to alleviate your stress that you may otherwise not be able to develop if you remain steeped in stress without a break.
For different people, removing yourself from a stressful environment could mean different things. But whether you need a break from work, home, a particular person or something else entirely - don't go too long without removing yourself from the cause of your stress.
--Jamie Bacharach, Acupuncture Jerusalem
Last Update: August 24, 2020
By Katie Holmes (freelance writer and editor)
Old article of the same autor
Lets face it: at this point in our wired, always-working culture, finding someone whoisnt regularly stressed out is a rarity.
If youve ever been wound up and totally on the edge, chances are youve tried a few tricks in order to banish those anxious emotions. Meditation and even therapy are ways to release yourself from the chains of anxiety -- but no matter how many go-to tricks you employ, they wont make a difference if you continue to practice common stress-inducing habits. Below, find 10 things not to do if you want to reduce those uneasy feelings; your well-being will be much better for it.
Stay plugged in 24/7.
Want to be on the fast-track to stressful emotions? Spend the majority of your day with your devices -- they have been scientifically proven to stress you out. According to a report released by the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, by 2015 the average person will spend nearly 16 hours per day plugged into digital media. Social media sites like Facebook have been linked to digital distress -- such as inducing feelings of loneliness among users. And staying plugged in to our devices can lead to work burnout, technology addiction and more. If youre looking to ditch the stress, disconnect from your device every once in a while.
Keep everything bottled up.
Nothing makes those uneasy feelings stick around like avoiding whats worrying you. By not letting yourself react -- like holding back those tears -- youre easily helping yourself internalize stress. If you suppress your urge to cry or dont address whats stressing you out head-on, you could be hurting your physical and mental health. "Avoidance is not a good strategy," David Spiegel, Stanford University’s associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. "Avoiding makes it like it isnt happening -- and the more you avoid it the worse it gets ... The more you deal with things that stress you out, the more mastery you have over them."
Be a couch potato.
If youre looking to keep those stressful emotions locked in, stay stationary. Studies have shown that lack of exercise can have physical and psychological setbacks. Exercise allows us to keep anxious emotions in check. Moving our feet can releasefeel-good chemicals in the brain and low-intensity exercise can even reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. Physical activity can also boost your mood and improve overall cognitive function.
Sacrifice your passions for your paycheck.
More money, more problems? Not necessarily -- but there has been plenty ofpsychological research linking the stressful effects of money and its toll on happiness.
According to behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, a connection between stress and wealth may not be hiding in what were doing to earn it, but what were giving up instead. "[B]eing wealthy is often a powerful predictor that people spend less time doing pleasurable things and more time doing compulsory things and feeling stressed," he told The Wall Street Journal in 2008. Regardless of the dollar amount, pursuing a paycheck and power over a sustainable life may have you flirting with stress and workplace burnout pretty quickly.
Aim for perfection.
Perfectionists strive to have everything just right and this drive can lead to a stressful lifestyle. Whether theyre procrastinating a task because they want it to be just the way they want it or they act on specific habits that foster anxiety, perfectionism can be extremely draining on the mind. "[The perfectionist] acknowledges that his relentless standards are stressful and somewhat unreasonable, but he believes they drive him to levels of excellence and productivity he could never attain otherwise,"psychologist David Burns once wrote in an essay on the personality trait. Instead of striving for perfect, focus on the good. Experts suggest practicing gratitude can help perfectionists manage their expectations (and, as a result, their stress levels).
When has any stressful situation ever been solved by obsessing over it? Ruminating on anxious thoughts only tends to create more anxiety -- especially in women. Research has shown that women are 42 percent more likely than men to overanalyze something when theyre feeling down. In a 2013 blog on the Huffington Post, author Bob Miglani explained exactly how this tendency to overthink can sabotage our psychological well-being -- and ultimately hold us back from living fulfilling lives. "[I]ts the overthinking mind full of chaos that holds us back from moving forward in life," he wrote. "Its the overthinking mind that makes us feel anxious and worried about the future. Its the overthinking mind that we need to better control in order to stop worrying and start living."
Shop, shop, shop.
Indulging in a little retail therapy may sound like an ideal way to burn off stress, but you may be doing the opposite. According to a small study conducted at Michigan State University, participants who scored as materialistic in the experiment had an increased likelihood of experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms and had a higher chance of compulsively or impulsively shopping. Study researchers also found that materialism seemed to intensify stresss effects.
Feed off other peoples stress.
Is your friend stressed out? The best way to increase your stress levels may be to allow yourself to get swept away in his or her problems. If youre trying to be a good friend by inserting yourself into whats worrying them, you may be setting yourself up forsecondhand stress, a feeling thats triggered by someone elses behavior.
According to Heidi Hanna, a fellow at the American Institute of Stress and the author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress, when were tapped into the stress of others, it sends a signal that we should feel anxious too. "Its important to understand that we do pick up stress from other people because the brain is so sensitive to our environment," she previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. "We notice someones breath rates or that theyre talking really quickly and we pick that up and mirror that." Hanna advised that order to find freedom from a stressful burden that is not your own, remove yourself from the situation right away and take a moment to assess whats really going on.
Make "Ill sleep when Im dead" your motto.
If you dont take issue with persistent stress, then you may also have no problem getting less than your recommended amount of shuteye. Sleep deprivation can significantly affect stress levels -- and without it, we can get irritable and have a harder time dealing with whats worrying us. In a 2013 national survey conducted by The Huffington Post, participants even cited their biggest stress trigger as a lack of sleep. If youre looking to manage those toxic, uneasy emotions, let your head hit the pillow a little longer -- youll be amazed at the difference.
Disregard your finances.
According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 76 percent of Americans cite money as a major source of stress in their lives. And struggling to make ends meet doesnt just cause a little anxiety, it could actually affect your cognitive abilities. Research conducted by behavioral economists Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir found that financial stress can cause a significant decrease in IQ. But you dont need to be wealthy to feel in control: Even if your budget is tight, there are ways to manage your money so it doesnt contribute to your stress levels. The APA suggests being mindful of your financial worries, addressing them head on and even seeking a professional for support in order to manage your economic stress in a healthy way.
Source: huffingtonpost.com (Apr. 3, 2014)