5 Ways to Make Stress Not Suck So Much
Believe it or not, without stress, we humans wouldn’t be around today.
Stress comes from an “ancient” part of the brain called the amygdala. It’s critical for regulating fight or flight situations. It has manufactured our fear response, crucial in keeping us safe from predators and dangerous situations.
While we no longer need to worry about a woolly mammoth barging into our homes in the dead of night, our stress levels still reach critical mass during particularly challenging periods in our lives.
Take care of your state of mind and emotions the same way you would sooth a wound, physical pain.
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That’s why it’s imperative to be aware of what self-aid one should apply in these situations. Take care of your state of mind and emotions the same way you would sooth a wound, physical pain. Too much stress, or overwhelming stress, is paralyzing. Not only does it flood our brains with negative thoughts, it can manifest in physical pain.
Lower back problems, stomach aches, and headaches are common complaints of the over-stressed.
How do we control stress before it controls us? There are many coping mechanisms, both positive and negative that could prove effective. But five stand out as tried and true methods to bust stress and restore our peace of mind.
5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Restore Peace of Mind in Your Life
#1. Get Your Body Moving
Exercise is the absolute best way to cope with crippling stress. Endorphins produced by physical activity both relax and energize us, flooding our brain with feel-good chemicals that restore order and lessen stress’ grip on our reality. Exercise leads to better sleep, a renewed sense of control and fights fatigue so we are motivated to tackle our problems head on.
Take Michelle Obama as an example!
Exercise is a cornerstone habit, one that influences other habits in a positive way. When stress hits like a sucker punch out of the blue, dust off your running shoes, unroll your yoga mat, or do as Michelle Obama does and go for a long bike ride. The former first lady swears by biking as a way to kill stress.
There’s a reason mountain biking is a favorite pastime. It gets you outside, gets the blood pumping and provides enough of a challenge to distract you and give your brain a much-needed break. Get a bike without burning a hole in your pocket. There are great MTB bikes for under $200. If you’re to spend money on something, spend it on what will help you grow, keep healthy, keep your mind sharp.
#2. Practice Gratitude
During times of strife, it’s difficult to remember to be thankful, but practicing gratitude is one of the most effective coping strategies for handling stress. Top entrepreneurs, like Tim Ferriss of “Four Hour Workweek” fame and Roberta Perry, President and Owner of ScrubzBody both practice gratitude as a way to keep themselves focused and grounded.
Even when things seem at their absolute worst, try to make a concerted effort to find gratitude. Some examples could include;
- I have people who love me
- I have a roof over my head
- I will not go hungry
- I am healthy
Gratitude is easy in good times and difficult when things are bad, but finding those silver linings mean the difference between you controlling stress and stress controlling you.
#3. Make Time for Meditation
We don’t need a well-appointed yoga studio full of incense and soft music to effectively meditate. As LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players of all time proves, meditation can happen anywhere. LeBron James has been a proponent of meditation for years, crediting it with helping him get through fast-paced, high-stakes basketball games and becoming a star athlete.
Swimming has been called meditation in water.
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Meditation is the art of mindful practice and we can easily work it into our day. We just have to grab five minutes to close those eyes and clear that head. Make our morning stroll a purposeful walk with meditation. Swimming has been called meditation in water. There is no one way to meditate. Find what works for you and put it into your daily schedule. Even in the most turbulent times, everyone has a few minutes to meditate. You’ll emerge with a clearer mind and a better sense of direction.
#4. Phone a Friend
As the Beetles say, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Our loved ones are willing to listen, support and aid us in a crisis. Sometimes we just need to spill our emotions to a trusted and sympathetic friend or family member. Don’t feel as if you’re burdening people. Those closest to you want to help and will welcome a phone call when stress becomes unbearable.
One of our most basic needs is a community.
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One of our most basic needs is a community. We need others to bounce ideas off of and validate us when things are the darkest. If you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, reach for the phone or send an email. The American Psychological Association indicates that phoning a friend is one of the best things you can do in a crisis.
#5. Explore the Great Outdoors
Nature is the great soother of woes. David Strayer a Cognitive Psychologist, hypothesizes that the simple act of being outside gives our brains a break. Whether backed by science or some other force that connects us to the planet, the importance of the outdoors to our psyche and mood can’t be overstated. In a world saturated with stimuli, unplugging and finding solace is even more vital, especially during dilemmas.
City slicker? No problem. Every major city has a park or some green space to stretch out in. Some other ideas include:
- Schedule a weekend hiking
- Volunteer to walk shelter dogs in the park
- Go to an indoor botanical garden
Take back your power. When catastrophes, emergencies or the unexpected happens use positive coping strategies and you won’t need to let stress stop your life in its tracks.
Experiment to see which is best for your lifestyle and schedule. You might find that a combination of two or three is most helpful. If you find yourself in a state of peace after a long bike ride, try biking a natural trail to get the added benefit of the outdoors. Even better, get a friend to join along for social support!
Perhaps merging meditation and mindful gratitude is what centers you. It’s important to learn to observe your state of mind, to be aware of the fact that we need regular breaks, we need movement and diversity, we need tolerance both towards others and ourselves. Find what’s most relaxing and fulfilling to you and apply that customized remedy whenever you need to! And remember to enjoy yourself no matter what!
Author bio: Amanda Wilks
Amanda is a regular guest blogger and veteran MTB rider. You can find Amanda’s MTB projects here. She supports the practice of sports arduously because her most difficult life situations have always been dealt head on with a proactive attitude and an eye on exploration and healing. You can show Amanda some support by visiting her MTB website and becoming a Twitter follower.
Dai “Coach Moose” ManuelDai Manuel: Your Lifestyle MentorJuly 21, 2017