Last week’s blog looked at what stress is and the body’s response to it. In short, our bodies are equipped to handle short bursts of stress but are not designed to deal with long term stress. Long term stress can wreak havoc on our cognitive, emotional, and physiological functions and can negatively impact our behavioral choices. If we can put into play positive strategies to care for ourselves and counteract our stress response, we can reduce or eliminate the effects of stress.
We most often feel stressed (or anxious) if we are worrying about the future. If we can refocus our attention onto the here and now, we are likely to feel a lot calmer and can protect our body (and mind) from the long term effects of stress. Below is a list of activities that can make huge difference in our stress tolerance and response. These strategies also fall under self-care. If we are doing healthy things to look after and care for ourselves, we are going to be able to handle much more on our plate.
- Exercise. Go for a walk, hit the gym. Every little bit helps.
- Meditate. If that seems a bit hokey, take a couple of minutes and focus on your breathing.
- Write your thoughts out
- Draw or do something artistic
- Put on your tunes (extra points if you have a dance party too)
- Have a nap
- Pray. If you are religious, connecting with a higher power can be a great stress reliever
- Watch your diet. Focus on fueling your body with health, nutritious food. The junk food might taste good in the moment, but you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs handle stress
- Chat with a friend
- Spend time with an animal. Animals are so calming. They don’t judge, just simply let you be who you are
- Have a hot bath or shower
- Stretch or try some yoga. While this technically falls under exercise, I think stretching or yoga deserves a special shout out because slow, easy movements can be incredibly calming and might not always be associated with exercise.
- Have sex. Sex can be a great stress reliever as it floods our body with feel good hormones and can help us to feel connected to a loved one. It can also be a great workout.
- Do something you love. Whether that be playing an instrument, doing a crossword or baking. Doing something we love feeds the soul and gives us a mini break.
What are your stress relieving strategies? Am I missing anything from the list?