5 Less Common Tips for Stress Management
A Guide to a Happier Life
A loud buzzing enters the air as you respond frantically, attempting to find the source of the disturbance. You come to your senses, realizing it’s your phone’s alarm clock that you set. You ask yourself why Mondays exist. As you exit the warmth of your bed your body clenches and your thoughts begin to circulate like a tornado hunting for Dorothy’s house.
Does this sound familiar?
I bet it does. That tornado is what we call “stress,” unfortunately, it’s something we all experience.
Stress can be a necessary villain and hero in our lives. Stress is essential to manage because, over time, it can take a severe toll on our mental and emotional health. As seen in the image above, that house symbolizes us and as you can see — it isn’t in good shape. I’m pretty sure that’s how some of us feel every day. If we don’t take control and ownership — it will wreak havoc on our quality of life.
Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, a weakened immune system, and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. For working professionals, excessive stress can hinder productivity, lower job satisfaction, and negatively impact our professional working relationships. It is crucial to address stress for the sake of our own health and success.
How do we stop it? I’m sure you’ve heard top experts claim that exercise, relaxation, self-care, a support network, and effective time management are how you “combat” stress.
I suppose running is a great thing to do, but those common steps won’t outpace stress. Today, we will learn five “unfamiliar” steps that offer unique approaches to tackling stress and achieving greater well-being.
Sound good? Okay, good. Now please turn your alarm off.
Here are the 5 tips!
1. Laughter Therapy:
Yes — that’s right! Drop what you’re doing and watch your favorite stand-up comedy performance now! Just think about how laughing makes you feel. Good, right? Laughter therapy involves surrounding yourself with people and entertainment that brightens your mood to counter daily stress.
“Lefcourt and Martin (1986) found that laughter effectively reduces stress by interrupting the stress response and facilitating a state of relaxation. This occurs through the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators, which help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.” (Lefcourt & Martin, 1986)
2. Connect with Nature:
Spending time in nature is the ultimate sanctuary from daily struggles. In early 2022, I took a solo trip to go hiking in Arizona to clear my head. As I ascended the rugged trails, each step brought me closer to a remarkable sense of tranquility. The air feels fresher as if my lungs are being cleansed with every breath. With each passing moment, the weight of stress tightly gripping my chest is gently lifted, leaving room for an overwhelming sense of calmness.
The below image is from my Arizona “Stress-free” hiking adventure. Pretty nice, right?
Another one of my favorite ways to reconnect with nature is leisurely walking in a nearby park. As soon as I step onto the winding trails, surrounded by lush trees and melodious bird songs, I feel an instant release of tension from my shoulders.
3. Practice Gratitude Journaling
Keeping a journal is a remarkable way to self-reflect and honestly assess your emotions. Speaking from my personal experience, I make it a habit to journal every evening, finding it therapeutic to review the events of the day, set goals, and express gratitude. Often, it’s effortless to focus on what we lack, but intentionally acknowledging what we are thankful for can have a transformative effect on our behavior when done consistently. To help you get started, I have included one of my most beloved gratitude journals for your consideration.
4. Engage in Creative Expression:
Engaging in creative activities such as painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument can be an effective stress management tool. These activities allow you to enter a state of flow, where you are fully absorbed and focused on the present moment. The act of creation not only reduces stress but also provides a sense of accomplishment and self-expression.
5. Embrace Imperfection:
Often, stress arises from striving for perfection in all aspects of life. Accepting that imperfection is natural and routine can significantly reduce stress levels. Embrace the mantra that progress is more important than perfection and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.
Is the tornado still there? Yes, but hopefully, you learned an unfamiliar step to managing stress that can bring about positive changes in your life — embracing imperfection, practicing gratitude journaling, engaging in laughter therapy, connecting with nature, and expressing creativity each offer unique and effective ways to alleviate stress and enhance overall well-being. Remember, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to control your life.
Thank you for your time! Happy Reading.
Lefcourt, H. M., & Martin, R. A. (1986). Humor and Life Stress: Antidote to Adversity. Springer Science & Business Media.
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