You need to stop letting your stress levels impact your life and learn how to control your stress levels effectively long term. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
Stress is a normal part of life. Some levels of stress are even healthy and can contribute to keeping us alert and functioning at our best. Many of us, unfortunately, have difficulty in managing our stress levels.
Of course, some stress disorders are hereditary and can be caused by imbalances of the chemicals that help the mind and body communicate. Many stress disorders are caused because what the body considers a threat and what the mind considers a threat isn’t the same thing.
For those of us who have survived accidents, combat, or other extreme and other real dangers, stress disorders can come from having a hard time adapting to life outside of high levels of stress.
Whatever the cause of your stress, whether it be a personal concern or a diagnosed disorder, stress shouldn’t control your life and there are certain things that you can try to take control of it. If you are already seeing a medical professional about your stress, these tips may help to supplement the help that you are already receiving.
If you are not talking to a medical professional, these tips may still help you, but they are not a substitute for other forms of intervention.
How To Control Your Stress Levels
Talk To A Friend
When it comes to how to control your stress levels, you need to realize that stress isn’t an unusual thing or something that only affects you.
According to the National Aliance on Mental Health, over eighteen percent of American adults suffer from a severe stress like Anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
That’s roughly one in five people.
Being familiar with these statistics may help you to feel more comfortable about talking to a healthcare provider, though you may feel more comfortable talking to a friend or community member.
Casually talking to a friend or community member can be a good way to get advice about how to deal with stress. It can also help to determine how bad your condition may actually be – or not be.
A few minutes of meditation a day can you wonders on how to control your stress levels.
In fact, research suggests that meditation daily may alter the brains neural pathways and make your more resillient to stress.
To read more about meditation, you can read this article.
Try placing a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, jaw, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage and get rid of all those stress knots in your back.
Try placing the tennis ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for up to 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure.
On a foam roller, you can lie on the roller and move the muscles up and down on the roller using your legs and arms to support you. Foam rollers are great for the outer leg muscles, upper back and shoulders, as well as knots in the buttocks.
I actually have an app on my watch that reminds me to breathe. This helps immensely, as otherwise, we tend to forget this simple, but important ritual that works so well when it comes to how to control your stress levels.
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, with your eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
By practising deep breathing, you can control your stress levels by slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.
Focus On Life Before Your Stress Problem
Whether stress comes on gradually due to life changes, or quickly due to an incident or experience, you shouldn’t let stress stop you from doing things that you used to enjoy.
It’s natural for stress or a stress disorder to make new things seem scary but they can also have this effect on experiences that we regularly enjoyed in the past. For example, gradually on-setting stress may make you not want to spend time with old friends, or a car accident may make you want to avoid driving, or even riding in or being around cars.
It’s important to remind yourself that these events went well for you in the past and that seeing them differently now doesn’t change the nature of the activity. Even if the activity did go poorly for you once in the past, as in the case of the car accident, that was only one of many incidences with most of them having gone well.
Ease Into Stressful Activities
When stress or a stress disorder leads us to fear pursuing a certain activity, doctors often recommend that we ease ourselves back into it.
To return to the car accident case, it might not be healthy for you – or safe for those around you – for you to try to face your fear by forcing yourself into the driver’s seat before you’re ready. If you froze or had a panic attack behind the wheel it could cause an accident, potentially hurting yourself or others and reinforcing your fear rather than fighting it.
Instead, try taking taxis or riding with friends and family for a while before getting behind the wheel again. At first, it may even be helpful to read a book in the car instead of paying attention to traffic.
All forms of exerise can help immensly when it comes to how to control your stress levels. Take your pick from running, yoga, walking or Pilates.
Exercise can ease depression and anxiety, as well as get rid of tightness and stress in your muscles, especially the shoulders.
Try doing some stretching exercises at your desk or even some shoulder shrugs. You will feel the difference immediately.
Listen To Music
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels.
Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping), and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece. You could also try blowing off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes or singing at the top of your lungs.
Laugh Out Loud
Last but not least, when it comes to how to control your stress leves, a good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally, it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts the chemicalsin your brain called endorphins, which help your lift your mood.
Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, read comics, or chat with someone who makes you smile.