8 ways to manage your stress daily
Here are eight ways to improve the ways you manage daily or chronic stress that is unavoidable.
1. Get enough sleep
This is the first thing to pay attention to. Not getting enough sleep is a cause of stress in itself, so it can be a perpetual cycle. It is not possible to manage stress if you are in a state of chronic sleep deprivation. Getting enough quality sleep will improve your resilience to stress during the day. Here are some basics:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, preferably 8-9.
- Avoid stress during the two hours before bed, like arguments, work, bright lights, and stressful media.
- Keep regular sleep-wake cycles, go to bed and wake up at similar times throughout the week to train yourself.
- Expose yourself to daylight first thing in the morning, or use a full-spectrum or blue light box if you can’t.
- Avoid caffeine if you have any trouble sleeping well.
- If you’re sensitive, avoid computer screens, TV screens, iPads, etc. for one to two hours before bed because they emit blue light which stimulates cortisol.
- Do something mellow and relaxing before bed. Examples include a bath, a relaxation recording, yoga or Feldenkrais, a nonaddictive book, or a funny story or book on tape.
- Get help from a functional medicine practitioner or a sleep specialist if you have trouble sleeping well. There may be a medical cause. Testing for, and treating HPA-D may be in order.
2. Move your body
Many people feel noticeably stagnant or pent-up if they don’t move, while others are more sedentary and need to work at it. Find an activity that you enjoy doing and you’re far more likely to do it. This may be outdoors or indoors, with other people or alone. Examples include sports, classes, dancing, running, walking, or swimming. Some people love going to the gym. Others use videos and exercise programs to work out at home, with their own equipment. A step counter motivates you to walk more throughout the day. The only situation where exercise will not help manage stress is if you have HPA-D, and you are over exercising and not able to recover.
3. Have fun and play
Playful adults are fun to be around. We can all be playful, at any age. Play really lightens things up! Play with kids, play sports or games with friends. Or, simply adopt a playful attitude and notice how those around you respond. This brings me to the next item…
4. Social community.
There is plenty of evidence that social connection reduces stress. A social network gives you a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth, and a feeling of security. Volunteer work, as well as helping others, are part of this.
5. Spend time in nature
Being outdoors reduces stress. It can be a hike in a national park, a stroll through a city park, or a nap on the beach. Connecting with nature tends to help us not sweat our stressors. We feel our connection to the earth, and how the small stuff doesn’t really matter.
6. Reduce stimulants
If you do feel stressed out, caffeinating yourself, especially all day long, will exacerbate it. Caffeine activates the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which floods our bodies with “fight or flight” hormones. To reduce stress we want the opposite to happen.
7. Watch comedy or go see comedy
Laughter is one of the best medicines for stress. We could all use more humor in our lives. Let funny people entertain you. Comedians have a gift to share. Hang out with the comedians in your life.
8. Listen to music
Studies have demonstrated that listening to music reduces stress hormones. It does not need to be spa music either. It can be music that does something for you. Check out this blog post on 13 Impressive Ways Music Helps Reduce Stress.
In a nutshell:
Please contribute in your comments below!
The next and last post is about getting parasympathetic, and includes a free 5-minute guided breathing meditation.