Chances are when someone asks how you are, the response is ‘busy’ ‘a bit stressed’ ‘manic’ – but just because stress seems to be part of everyday life these days, it doesn’t mean it’s normal or good for you. In fact, a study at Oregon State University found that those people who obsess over everyday stresses actually live shorter lives than those who go with the flow. In fact, stress over a long period of time is bad for your health full stop – it can lead to high blood pressure, reduce your immune system and cause insomnia.
If you need help to be one of those people who just let things roll off their backs, these tips will help you stress less and keep healthier
Keep it in perspective
When stress hits, it’s time to take a step back and get a sense of perspective. Of course it’s easier said than done when stress hits but if you can see the bigger picture and realise, while your leaking washing machine is a right royal pain in the arse, it’s not going to kill you, you can breathe a little more. Once you’ve got that perspective, you can then calmly work out how you’re going to sort it out.
Forget about putting a ring on it, it’s time to put a time limit on your worry. It may sound silly but seriously, set a timer, sit down and use that time to think solely about the problem you’re worrying about. Once the timer bings, it’s time to put that worry away and get on with your day.
Write it down
Just jutting down your worries helps to clear the mind, allowing you to focus on what you really need to concentrate on. A study by the University of California found that the mere action of writing about a worry calmed down the brain and restored a mental balance.
Embrace your current situation
Whether it’s a messy house or a job you don’t really love, embrace it. Yes, you may be trying to tidy up more or find a new job, but don’t wait until it happens to live life. Once you’ve embraced the situation you’re in, you may find more impetus to change it or perhaps even fall in love with your current life once more.
Take some action
Worry not only keeps you up at night, it can also immobilise you, leaving you floundering. Worry just leads to more worry so stop the what ifs and take some action. Lost your job? Send your CV to someone. Worried about money? Write down your outgoings. It doesn’t have to solve the problem, but it’s a first step and will give you some control over the situation.
Get a pet
Perhaps a bit of a radical thing to do just to relieve stress, but research has discovered that pet owners have lower heart rates and blood pressure levels than non-pet owners. If you can’t commit to owning a pet, why not borrow one? Borrow My Doggy allows people to walk and look after other people’s dogs.
Know that this too shall past
Storms don’t last forever, nor do any bad situations. If you’re in a trying situation, remember that it will pass, so while it feels darn awful right now, this time next week, month or year, you’ll hardly remember how stressed you felt.
Make a change
There is a flip side to stress – yes, really! While stress is super bad for your health, being really stressed out about a certain situation can help you change it for the better. Stress is after all usually a sign that things aren’t working out right, so if you keep getting worried or anxious about a recurring situation, take a step back and see what you can change. Start seeing stress as a warning signal – one not to ignore.
Ditch the caffeine
OK, if not ditch it, perhaps reduce your five-cups-a-day habit to one. While it can obviously give you an energy boost, too much caffeine can increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This will increase your feelings of stress and up the grumpiness factor. Instead, try a nice cup of chamomile tea, which helps reduce stress and kicks insomnia to the kerb.
Get some chewing gum
A weird one perhaps, but research from the Swinburne University in Australia found that chewing gum helped to relieve anxiety and reduce stress by up to 16 per cent.
Do something that gives you a sense of satisfaction
Being anxious or stressed can make you feel like you’re spiralling out of control. Make yourself feel like you’re in charge, by doing something that makes you feel happy and satisfied. For some that’s cleaning, for others it might be volunteering, but whatever floats your boat, do it. It will not only take your mind off whatever is bothering you, but you’ll also feel a great sense of achievement that will help boost your mood.
Acknowledge unhealthy stress-relieving habits
When stress hits, what are you most likely to do? Hit the gym or hit the bottle? I know I’m guilty of turning to the wine when things get tough but habits like boozing, binge eating or chain smoking will actually just compound the effects of stress. Of course, we’d never tell you to ditch something you love doing for good, but when anxiety or worry is eating you up, try ditching the wine for water and the family pack of Maltesers for a bit of dark chocolate, which is actually pretty good for you.
Take a walk in the great outdoors
A walk is a great and easy way to get some instant stress relief, however, find some greenery to take a stroll in and you’ll be upping the stress relieving benefits instantly. Studies have found that walking in a natural, green environment has greater effects for stress relief than walking in a town or city.
Have you got any tips on how to deal with stress? Share the love - and help lower blood pressure levels - by commenting below!