- Exercise – Move your body. Get outside and run or walk. Dance around or take a dance class. Feeling frustrated or angry? Try lifting weights. Seriously, I found that high intensity and heavy lifting to be a great way to work through tough and stressful situations without letting it get the better of me or directing it out onto others. Not only does moving your body helps clear your mind and allows you to focus on something other than your stressor, but it also gets the blood flowing and promotes the feel good endorphins to help you feel more energized and capable of taking on whatever lays ahead of you.
- Deep Breathing – Take several slow, big, deep breathes in and slowly exhale. Try closing your eyes to help bring you into the present moment. Focus on your belly and chest filling up with the oxygen, and then reversing as you exhale. This technique not only slows your breathing, but your heart rate down as well. It reduces the fight or flight reflex and allows you to become more grounded and focused.
- Yoga and/or Meditation – Like deep breathing techniques, both yoga and meditations will help you refocus and become more grounded. It slows the mind down and focuses on the here and now, the present moment. When you take the big picture out, you give your mind and body a break and allow it to be at peace. Focusing on yourself and not what is going on around you is a great way to break up the chaos in your life, and make things feel more manageable and less stressful.
- Massage Therapy - Receiving a massage is one of the least physically demanding ways, and probably the most enjoyable way, you can help reduce your stress levels. Once you find a massage therapist that you like, you book an appointment, you get on the table, and let go for 60-90-or even 120 minutes, while the massage therapist soothes away all the stress, tension, and sore muscles. You get to let go both your mind and body during the massage session, giving you that much needed break from everyday life. Massage also reduces your heart rate, increases blood flow, boosts your immune system, as well as relieves the sore and tense muscles with the aches and pains that stressful times will aggravate.
- Eat Healthy – Maintain a healthy, well balanced meal plan. We all tend to either over-eat or under-eat when we are stressed out, and it often tends to be not the healthiest of food options when we do eat. When you are stressed, it is even more important to make sure you eat complete and healthy meals throughout the day. When we eat well-balanced meals, we get the proper nutrients to fuel our mind and body to combat the everyday stressors. We need to keep our immune system up, our minds clear and focused, and our energy levels up. When we eat like crap, we feel like crap, and then we feel more out of control and unable to tackle what lies ahead. So do yourself a solid and try your best to keep eating healthy during times that you feel the most stressed. Give your body the fuel and defense to take on the stress. (Do I need to add drink plenty of water, too? Because staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of eating healthy and properly fueling your body).
- Make time to do things you enjoy – One of the best things you can do, are things that make you happy. Make sure when you are dealing with stress, that you find time to step away to do what you love. Whether that is some form of art, reading, watching a movie, playing games or playing with your pet, or even getting outside and enjoying nature with a walk or gardening. Whatever you enjoy doing, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes your smile or laugh, do it. Staying positive and remembering what makes you happy will help you tremendously in dealing with your stress levels and bring you back down to a grounded state again.
- Talking it out – Sometimes you just need to talk about it. Whether you seek a professional to talk to, a friend or family member, or even yourself - yes talking out loud is okay to do. Talking about what is stressing you is a great first step in handling your stress. Acknowledging the stress; seeing it, hearing it, will allow you to address it and find ways to work around it, or how to handle it, or even prevent the same situation from possibly happening again in the future. If you don’t like speaking out loud about it, maybe try writing it down and reading it. Acknowledging and accepting are the first steps of conquering through the tough times.
Stress, it is an everyday presence in our lives. There really is not a way to completely avoid stress. The bills will always be coming, the job and family responsibilities will always be demanding your attention, and you’ll often feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done in time. Stress will perk up its ugly little head when we feel overwhelmed, not in control of a situation, or when we are anticipating something. It is ever present in our lives. So how do we cope with stress so that it does not take over our lives and lead to unhappiness, illness, and pour health? Below are some tips that have helped me cope with everyday stress. Give them a try.
Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland,
Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and
a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.