3 Tips to Manage Stress
Wouldn’t we all wish to have a magical vacuum that sucks up everything that causes stress? We would never have to worry about dealing with hardships because they would dissolve on their own.
Unfortunately, we do not live in that kind of world. And yes, we do have to face our “demons” in order to thrive and live life to the fullest. While it may feel impossible to persevere at times, we possess an extraordinary ability to deal with the hurdles life places in front of us. All it takes is a little reminder to motivate us to see through perceived failures so that we can move forward.
In this last post about the basics of stress, we have put together simple tips and tricks to help you build resilience. Make use of any or all of these tools and start soothing your mind right now!
Tip #1: Breathe deeply
Cultivating mindfulness around your breathing habits is an excellent way to start noticing the immediate impact of stress on your body. When under stress, our breathing gets rapid and shallow. This type of breathing does not let oxygenated air travel to the lowest parts of the lungs. Over time, “chest breathing” limits the function of the diaphragm and results in less oxygen transfer to the blood. This leaves tissues malnourished. And we get even tenser. However, you can turn on your body’s relaxation response by consciously slowing down your breath.
To practice deep breathing:
Lay down on your bed
Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly
Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth
Take a note of which part of your body is expanding/contracting with each inhale and exhale
Consciously try to fill up your lungs and feel the expansion of your belly, then exhale fully and notice the contraction of your belly
Practice for 5 minutes at minimum and build up from there.
Tip #2: Move
Recent studies suggest that exercise helps to improve psychological wellbeing through its effects on stress hormones, particularly, norepinephrine.
According to the American Psychological Association:
“[Exercise] forces the body’s physiological systems – all of which are involved in the stress response – to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system.”
Walk, run, swim, dance or practice yoga. Any type of physical activity that you like doing will help you keep stress at bay.
Tip #3: Be good to yourself
What do you say to a close friend who failed her English class?
What would you say to yourself if you failed your English class?
Dr. Kristin Neff, the author of Self-Compassion, proposes that self-compassion is crucial for personal growth and transformation. She says that “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.”
To practice self-compassion Dr. Neff offers the following exercise:
Think of a situation that is causing you stress and see if you can feel the emotional discomfort in your body.
Say to yourself:
“I’m not alone.”
Place one hand over your heart and say “May I be kind to myself”
- Stress affects everyone differently.
- Getting to know your own stress response will help you cope better and more efficiently.
- Seek support from friends and family when you need it.
- 1. Association, A. (2015). Exercise Helps Keep Stress at Bay. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 12, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/exercise-helps-keep-stress-at-bay/
- 2. Jerath, R., Crawford, W. M., Barnes, A. V., & Harden, K. (2015). Self-regulation of breathing as a primary treatment for anxiety. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 40, 107 - 115. DOI: 10.1007/s10484-015-9279-8 http://self-compassion.org/the-three
- 3. Rakal, D. (2015). Learning Deep Breathing. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 10, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/learning-deep-breathing/