Stress can have many causes. A major life event, Covid, a recent job change, marriage, increased workload or new baby can all lead to increased personal stress. Sometimes the causes are not obvious, such as poor time management skills, excessive worrying and ineffective coping strategies.
Here are a few strategies you can use to combat stress in your life.
Tip 1: Stress journal
Keep a daily stress journal. This will help identify how much stress you are under, potential stress triggers and ways to reduce stress in your life. Take 15 minutes a day to describe any event that caused you to become stressed and any resulting emotional or physical response. Over time, you will be able to identify patterns, which will help you develop healthy management strategies. Label your entries with the date and time and use adjectives.
Tip 2: Say no
Learn to say “no” when you have too many activities in your schedule. Saying no when you are reaching your limit can be very empowering. People will respect your boundaries and be more appreciative of your time when you do agree to take on a favour or additional responsibility. Be firm but polite. Practice saying “no” in the mirror to gain confidence.
Tip 3: Drink water
This may surprise you, but keeping your body hydrated will help you feel better, improve your mood and ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Your body produces the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Dehydration, even by levels as low as 17 oz (just over two glasses) increases cortisol levels in your body.
Tip 4: Eat well
In addition to drinking water, pay attention to what you eat. Diets high in fibre and low in saturated fat have a positive effect on overall mood. John Hopkins School of Medicine warns people against high-fat, high-glycemic loads meals, which “can make you physically feel dysfunction afterwards.” B vitamins, especially folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12 are known to help prevent mood disorders, including depression. These vitamins are found in spinach, romaine lettuce, lean chicken breasts, meats, fish, poultry and dairy products.
Tip 5: Yoga, Tai Chi and Physical Exercise
A number of studies have shown that yoga, physical exercise and tai chi can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. Practicing these behaviours can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. This means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavours or in your daily activities. Yoga can also help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure. The benefits also include decreased stress and tension, increased strength and balance, increased flexibility, lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol levels.