A big part of having a happy, healthy life comes from managing your stress levels as effectively as possible. Stress affects everyone in different ways, so it’s important to find strategies that work for you personally. This list of 25 best ways to manage stress like a pro will help you find the perfect combination of tips and tricks to keep your stress in check and your anxiety at bay.
Before we get into that, let’s look at some of the benefits of managing your stress:
Now, let’s dive into the 25 best ways to manage stress like a pro:
Breathing deeply is one of my favorite stress relieving techniques because it really helps you take control of your mind and body. When you're feeling overwhelmed, stop what you're doing for a moment and just focus on taking some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Afterward, think about how much better you feel!
To learn more on breathing techniques, you can read this article posted by the NHS: “Breathing Exercises for Stress.”
2. Get Organized
Staying organized can also be a huge help. Some stress relieving techniques you can try are: making lists, prioritizing tasks, dividing your day into time blocks, and delegating certain tasks if they're too overwhelming. Doing this will provide you with a sense of control over your life.
Meditation and deep breathing are two highly effective stress relieving techniques. Take time each day, preferably before you go to bed or first thing in the morning, for a period of deep breathing. If you're not comfortable with deep breathing alone, try combining it with meditation.
Meditation is about clearing your mind and focusing on just one thing - whether it's your breath or something else like nature. Your mind will wander at first but try not to get frustrated and simply return to that one focus again and again.
After some practice, you'll find it becomes much easier. Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere without any equipment or props at all!
4. Laugh More
The secret to managing stress may be as simple as laughing more. In fact, one study found that laughter can provide an effective way for lowering stress levels and relieving tension.
Laughter is also beneficial for boosting your immune system and reducing the risk of health problems. Laughter really is the best medicine!
5. Stay Active
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that make you feel good. It also helps your body release serotonin, which makes you feel calm and happy.
So when you're feeling stressed or anxious, try going for a walk or do some yoga. You'll be surprised by how much better it will make you feel!
6. Maintain a Social Life
Sometimes all you need is a little break from the obstacles life throws at you. Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the best ways to manage stress. Spend time with people you care about, whether by meeting up for dinner or catching up on the phone.
7. Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep is one of the easiest ways to put yourself under stress. In order to get enough sleep, it's important that you establish good sleeping habits. Try not to consume caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime, sleep in a dark room, and try not to work on your computer or watch TV before bed.
Establishing these good habits will help you feel better and more relaxed when you're asleep.
8. Keep a Journal
Jotting down your thoughts in a journal can be extremely helpful, especially if you don’t feel like talking to someone. Keeping a journal has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and promote feelings of self-compassion.
It helps you keep track of your progress, provides you with an outlet for expressing your feelings, and helps you identify what triggers your stress. Keeping a journal also forces you to be mindful of the thoughts that are causing the most anxiety.
9. Manage You Social Media Time
Social Media is one of the biggest stressors in the 21st century. Mindlessly scrolling through other user’s luxurious lives, wishing you could be them. Well, I hate to break it to you. Things are never as luxurious as they might make it look on social media. Everyone has their own problems they face daily.
Try to limit your social media time every day (especially before bed) and you will see the difference it makes.
10. Eat Healthy
What you eat is just as important as how much you eat. Stress can lead to unhealthy food choices, so it's important that we are mindful of what we put into our bodies when dealing with stress. Taking care of your physical self can help relieve mental tension. Here are some tips to eat healthier:
11. Talk To Your Family and Friends
Your friends and family are the people who know you best and will always be there for you no matter what the situation is. Stress can be tough on relationships. It often feels like our partners are the ones who need us the most, but in reality it's the other way around.
When we're stressed and overwhelmed, it's easy for our loved ones to get swept up in that too, which only creates more tension and chaos. The best way to manage stress like a pro is by disconnecting from work when you're home and reconnecting with your loved ones instead.
12. Identify Professionals Who Can Help
When friends and family aren’t enough, you can always try reaching out to professionals for help. Some people might be able to deal with the stress on their own, but for those who can't, there are resources available.
Speak with your doctor, therapist, or clergy member if you're feeling overwhelmed. They might be able to provide some stress relieving techniques that will help get you through the day.
13. Challenge Yourself
When we successfully complete a difficult task, it fills us with a great sense of pride and joy. Try to challenge yourself every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. If you struggle to challenge yourself daily, then try to do it once a week.
13. Change Your Habits
Bad habits can be a large contributor to stress. We talked about social media earlier in the post and the affect it can have on you. You will be surprised how big of a difference it will make, simply by changing your bed time routine.
15. Have Some "Me-Time"
One of the best ways to manage stress is by taking some time for yourself. This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually has profound effects on your stress levels. When you take time for yourself, even if just 15 minutes in the morning or at night, you allow yourself the opportunity to recharge and disconnect from your day-to-day responsibilities.
Taking this time away from work and personal life helps you feel calmer and more able to get back into doing what needs done. Always take care of yourself first!
16. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
One of the most popular stress relieving techniques is limiting caffeine intake. Caffeine causes surges in adrenaline and cortisol, which can lead to an increase in stress hormones. Caffeine also affects sleep by causing restlessness, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Furthermore, it's common for people who are addicted to coffee/caffeine to develop headaches or withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking caffeine.
Limit your consumption of caffeine drinks (coffee, tea, soda) and energy drinks and replace them with water or other calorie-free beverages instead.
Sometimes, stress can feel like it's suffocating you. It's hard to breathe and the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Crying is often associated with good feelings, but it can also have a big impact on your mood.
When you cry, your brain releases neurotransmitters that produce feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals not only boost your mood, but they also increase the production of cortisol and endorphins that make you feel less stressed.
There are some amazing proven benefits to crying when you are stressed that will help maintain a balanced mental state.
18. Read a Book
Reading a book can help you take your mind off the things that might be causing stress in your life. Studies have shown that reading can lower levels of stress hormones and increase mood-regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
In fact, it has been shown that your brain produces more oxytocin (a feel good hormone) when you read than when you watch TV.
19. Don't Overthink
Overthinking can cause stress by making us feel like we need to solve the problem before it even happens. This causes us to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and stressed out.
Take time each day for mindfulness, or deep breathing exercises. Doing so can help calm your brain and body so that you're able to focus on what's most important at the moment.
20. Learn to say "NO"
You might be a person who wants to do everything for everyone. The fact of the matter is that this increases your load which leads to you being stressed. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do anything for the people around you, but sometimes it's good to say no.
21. Listen to Music
Music can be an excellent way to relieve stress. It is important to find music that you enjoy and that fits your mood. If you are feeling stressed, listen to music with a tempo of 120-140 beats per minute (BPM). This type of music helps calm and lower the heart rate.
22. Get to the Root of the Problem
Often times, stress is caused by something other than what you might see on the surface level. For example, you might think that your friend being extra annoying today is causing your stress, but in reality your stress is caused by your boss who scolded you earlier in the week.
Identify the root cause, then solve it.
23. Get a Hug From a Loved One
Sometimes the simplest things in life can make the biggest differences. Go up to someone you love, and ask for a hug. You don’t even have to speak. I guarantee you they won’t say no.
24. Recognize That You are Stressed
The first step to dealing with stress is to recognize that you are stressed. Never try to run away from the stressors in your life because they will keep coming back stronger and stronger. Always stand tall and deal with your stress head on.
25. Never Give Up
When the strategy you are using doesn’t work the first time, you need to realize that it is okay. Nothing happens overnight. You have to stick with it and keep doing it every day to see the best results.
I want to leave you with a reminder. There are many more ways that can help you manage your stress. Each one of us are completely different, which means that different strategies will work for different people.
If you have a strategy that you use that is not on the list, feel free to leave it in the comment section below. I would love to hear more about you!
Dream. Dare. Succeed.
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Rudo Loock is a former elite swimmer from South Africa. His journey to America started at Florida State University, where he studied and competed.
He learned valuable mental strategies during a difficult time in his career after battling a major injury. Following that, he had one of the best swimming years of his career.
Alpha Mindz is a community he created to help struggling athletes overcome the many obstacles they face everyday.