ou know, like Ghost Busters, but Stress Busters? See what I did there? (Eye-roll…OK, moving on.) As we discussed in Healthy Change #23, “Identifying Stress”, it can be lurking in the most unassuming places. But simply pinpointing areas of stress doesn’t mean we can always get rid of them. Sometimes we just need to find ways to cope with the stress. Here are eleven ways to cope with stress…the right way!
1. One Degree – One degree is a concept we practice in our lives. It’s about keeping our minds on what is true, on what we know. When we do this, it’s amazing how the “worries of the world” melt away. Most often, we find these worries aren’t based on facts but rather “what ifs”, and that causes major stress.
Not always sure what’s true? This always works for us “…whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable…think about these things…practice these things…and the God of peace will be with you.” (The Bible, Philippians 4:8-9) If you can apply this concept to your life, tips 2-11 become so much easier!
2. Breathe – The best and quickest way to lower cortisol (the hormone our body releases when stressed) is to do some deep breathing. Breathe in for 4 counts and out for 6-8 counts. You’ll notice this immediately helps calm you down in a stressful situation. I do this about a hundred times a day (#4kids). Having a hard time breathing? See tip #1.
3. Practice Gratitude – Being thankful isn’t just an outward expression. When we focus on the things we’re thankful for in our own lives, it can help take the focus off what we wish we could change. Having a journal to jot down a few things each day is a great way to keep your mind focused and to remember just how much we’re grateful for. For example: breathe in and out as mentioned in tip #1 real quick. Did you do it? No? I’ll wait…There! I just gave you something to be thankful for. Breath in your lungs!
4. Get more sleep! – Remember, a lack of sleep or a poor night’s sleep is bad for stress. Therefore, more sleep and better sleep is great for lowering stress. Read this post for more on sleep.
5. Exercise – Ok, so I know I said too much exercise when your body is overworked causes stress, but moderate and relaxing exercise is different. Take a brisk walk, go on a bike ride, stretch, do a barre3 or yoga workout. These are all great forms of exercise that will actually help lower your stress.
6. Manage your time – If you feel you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, chances are you’re either too busy, need to make some adjustments with your time, or need to get a calendar. For me, my calendar is my lifeline! Without it, I’m a forgetful wreck, and with all the smartphone technology these days, there’s really no excuse to not keeping one. It’s so freeing knowing I’ll get an email or an alert on my phone when I have a meeting to go to, baby shower to attend or bill to pay. A calendar also helps me see if there are things I can pair together to “kill two birds with one stone”.
Take a good look at your schedule and be honest, does every single thing on it have to stay? Give your commitments a good once over and prioritize them in order of importance. Which brings me to my next tip…
7. It’s OK to say “No!” – Are you a people pleaser? Yeah, me too! It’s great to help a friend in need, but not so often it costs me my health. And your kids will survive if they’re not in every sport or extra curricular activity known to man on planet earth. But, if we have our schedules in order (tip #5), then we should be able to take a quick glance and see if we can say “Yes!” or “No” to that friend in need, or that adorable child asking for oboe lessons.
8. Avoid caffeine – Yep, I said it. Caffeine is not the answer to avoid that afternoon crash. Like mentioned above, this sleepy fog has more to do with poor diet, stress, blood sugar or hormones (or all of the above). Instead of reaching for that afternoon jolt to keep you going, try a healthier alternative like kombucha or water kefir! All those good B vitamins will give you the pep in your step you’re trying to achieve through caffeine, and the probiotics will make your tummy say “thank you”.
9. Read a book – Not just any book. No “study books” allowed. I know, I’ve got about a hundred of these study books I need to read in Kindle…but what I’m talking about is a good book you get lost in. One with a great story line that takes you to another place.
While I was pregnant with my fourth child, I spent the evenings of my entire pregnancy enrapt in a fantastic book series by Karen Kingsbury…the characters in her books became my friends! So much so I talked to my husband about them and actually missed them when I finished with the series! Yes, I’m aware how pathetic that sounds!
10. Take a bath – Get yourself some magnesium flakes and your favorite relaxing essential oils and soak your stress away. Hey! Why not pull double duty and combine tip #9 and #10? Add 2 cups flakes with 10-20 drops oils and soak, soak, soak!
11. Have sex with your spouse – This isn’t last because it’s the least important…it’s last because it took me till the end of the post to get up the nerve to write it! (Are my cheeks blushing?) There are so many health benefits to sex, and my husband is doing cartwheels in excitement because of it!
The truth is, sex is a great stress reliever. Stress can be all consuming, especially in a woman’s thought-life. And sex is extremely mental (not so much for men as women). If we’re consumed in our thoughts over a stressful situation we won’t enjoy it, or even want to participate much. So clearing our minds to have some fun with our spouse is a fantastic stress buster!