Stress is a common physical reaction to the pressures we face in daily life. The effects of stress vary from person to person and may include headaches, chest pain, fatigue or insomnia. You cannot avoid stress completely, but there are ways to manage it. In honor of Stress Awareness Month, here are nine tips to reduce stress.
Cut back on caffeine
Coffee is a popular choice when you need the focus and alertness caffeine provides. However, because caffeine is a stimulant, too much caffeine results in nervous, jittery behavior that can fill your mind with worried thoughts. Doctor and author Roberta Lee says caffeine can make you edgy, and if you're already anxious, make matters worse.
Avid coffee drinkers should not nix caffeine altogether as this could cause headaches and stomach pains. To ween off the java, it's safest to drink fewer cups daily or mix caffeinated coffee with decaffeinated until you feel less stressed.
Get some sleep
The Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association found 43 percent of adults say that stress keeps them from restful sleep. Avoid stress before bed by turning off the television early enough to decompress. This will give you time to relax and limit the television's energy consumption.
Another technique to clear your mind at night is to write down your thoughts on a piece of paper, then throw that paper in the recycling bin. The physical act of throwing away your cares before bed could be a soothing ritual.
Take a bath
Dr. Kathleen Romito says stress is known to make your body respond as though you are in danger – this causes your heart rate to accelerate, followed by a burst of energy. This effect of stress could make it difficult for you to relax your mind and body.
To combat stress that disrupts a quiet mind, add essential oils to the bath. An aromatherapy bath with the scent of lavender oil could reduce stress-induced restlessness and anxiety.
Engage in positive self-talk
The American Heart Association recommends you repeat positive phrases such as "I'll do the best I can" in place of negative self-talk like "I can't do this" to reduce the control of stressful situations over your thoughts. Make positive self-talk a habit and you can systematically turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
Even if you only spend a few minutes to clear negative thoughts, it can prove effective. Whether in your car or at your desk, meditate with deep breaths and focus your attention on the present. This may help you relieve tension and carry out a stress-free day.
Reach out to friends
Friends are a great resource for a fresh perspective on stressful situations. If you speak out your troubled thoughts, friends may have a solution that had not occurred to you. Also, if there's a situation you need help with, like moving, a friend might be able to help tangibly, which eases the strain.
Often we commit to more tasks than we can realistically complete. Learn to say "no" when the task is more than you can handle. If answering a friend or colleague's request with a "no" triggers stress, practice responses you can use in various situations.
Should you find yourself in a stressful position, feel free to take a moment and step away. This could reduce stress and ensure you return with a clear outlook.
Keep a schedule
When stress makes you feel powerless, follow a schedule to take back control. For instance, try to get to bed at a consistent time every night to fight insomnia.
Regardless of intensity, exercise can help relieve stress thanks to the supply of endorphins. Exercise can also help regulate sleep by releasing unused energy and promote long-term calm.
Get involved in a form of exercise you enjoy, like yoga, to stay motivated and make it part of your routine you look forward to.