There’s no problem more universal than stress. No matter where we live, how we live, or what measures we take, stress finds a way to slip through the very same cracks that let the light in. It makes our heads pound and our stomachs churn. It makes our blood pressure rise and our hopes sink. It’s responsible for sleepless nights and silent tears and unpredictable outbursts.
We all know the standard stress reduction recommendations, and while some of them can absolutely be effective, they’re not always very accessible. Intense exercise, daily yoga classes, frequent spa days, and soaking in candlelit baths might be a little unrealistic for most of us. So we’re here to talk about a few ways to handle stress like a boss, even when you don’t have time to picnic in a field of lavender or practice Tai Chi under a waterfall every morning.
Talk about it
We’re not suggesting that you run around telling anyone who will listen how stressed out you are, and while professional therapy can be an amazing tool, especially for severe anxiety, we know that it’s not a practical option for everyone.
What you should do, though, is tell your partner when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stress of balancing a full time job and managing a busy household. Tell your best friend when you’re having an identity crisis as you make the transition from your twenties to your thirties. When you’re worried that your daughter might be getting bullied at school, talk to her teacher sooner rather than later. When something is weighing you down, just saying it out loud can be the first step in letting it go…and it also gives the people who care about you an opportunity to be part of the solution.
Write it down
If talking about a problem doesn’t make sense (or you’re just not ready to talk yet), journaling can be an amazing exercise. It doesn’t really matter how much you write or how well you write it…just putting your worries into words and looking at them there on the page puts a little bit of space between you and your stress.
If you’re concerned about falling headfirst into an inkwell of negativity, consider finishing each journal entry with one thing that you’re grateful for, just to end on a positive note. Keeping a written account of your emotions is not only therapeutic, but also gives you the powerful option of looking back at where you’ve been so you can see how far you’ve come.
Laugh at it
Laughter might not feel like the most natural response to stress, but it can be a surprisingly effective one, at least for short-term relief. A good laugh can help turn down the stress hormones (like cortisol) and turn up the happy hormones (like dopamine). Laughing because you feel happy is the best…but feeling happy because you’re laughing could be a close second.
Think about how many of the songs you hear on the radio are sad, how many plots don’t go the happily ever after route, or how many of the paintings you see on the wall of a museum are a little dark and disturbing. That’s because art is a fantastic receptacle for stress, even if you’re not necessarily an artist.
So whether you think you have a specific talent or not, get creative with your feelings! Sing at the top of your lungs, even if it’s only in the shower. Write a poem, and if it’s terrible, see above for the benefits of laughter. Throw some paint at a canvas, hang it in your living room, and see how many of your friends believe you when you tell them it’s a famous work of art.
Make friends with it
Sure, stress can make life harder, but our stress response actually serves a purpose. A little “good stress” is what helps us meet deadlines. It’s what helps us anticipate danger. It’s what motivates us to keep learning and growing and adapting instead of settling into our comfort zones.
It’s when we have a LOT of stress, and not all the stress is the good kind, that things get sticky. Remember how when you were little, your parents would invite your entire class to your birthday parties, even the kids you didn’t really get along with? Then as you got older, you started having smaller gatherings with closer friends, and it was a lot more fun. Try to take that approach when you’re faced with a stress surplus. Surround yourself with what inspires you, and if anything else tries to crash the party, politely but firmly inform it that there’s simply not enough room…and not enough cake.
We hope that these 5 tips help you find your way to a healthier, happier, less-stressed life! Since concern for the well being of our loved ones is a major source of stress for most of us, we have a 6th suggestion as well: if you’re not absolutely sure that you have enough life insurance to cover your family’s needs if something happens to you, grab a free quote from Our Life Covered℠ before you step away from whatever device you’re reading this on. Because knowing the people you love are taken care of is better than lavender fields and waterfalls any day.