Stress is difficult to define. In reality, there is bad stress (distress) and good stress (eustress). Stressful events (stressors) lead to different responses in different people (see figure below). Take a roller coaster for example. There are those of us who sit in the back gripping tightly out of pure fear. Then there are those others sitting in the front hands in the air, loving every minute of the adrenaline rush. Same stressor… different response. Another example is the average work week. A recent Gallop Poll found that the “average” American works 47 hours/week. Some people can put in over 60 hours/week with no apparent stress affecting them at all, while others feel as though they cannot handle a traditional 40 hour work week. Whether its work, financial or health issues, more often than not, life every day can become stressful. Stress is all around us and unfortunately, it is something every human encounters.
So what are some things we can do naturally, without anxiety medication and depression medication, to help us manage or control our stressful, everyday lives?
Prioritize what means the most to you. For some, family and friends and their jobs mean the world to that individual. Maybe it’s hobbies like arts and crafts or going on hikes, or something as simple as reading a book. In order to prioritize our lives, we need to first create a list of what makes us the happiest. For me, family and friends, my hobbies that involve being outside, and my work in helping people make me the absolute happiest. There are just simply not enough hours in the day to fit everything in. Some people would argue and say ‘just plan your entire day out’…but have you ever tried that? Who wants to live their days going from one plan to the next? Honestly, that does not sound fun. First step in managing our stress is saying no to things that are not a priority. Prioritize those things that fulfill you and bring you joy. Being happy will ultimately bring the stress in your life lower.
Take. Care. Of. Yourself. Let me repeat that again-take care of yourself. Stress can overtake our lives without us knowing it and overtime, we begin to suffer for it-both mentally and physically. Ways to combat stress can be as simple as going for a walk/run, focusing in on your breathing patterns, listening to some calming music, get a massage, or get adjusted by your chiropractor. Massage and chiropractic care don’t just feel amazing, they boost circulation, increase immunity, relaxes the nervous system and reduces stress hormones like cortisol. Now massage and chiropractic are not instant fixes, meaning you can’t do them yourself, but one thing you can do by yourself is breathing in a specific pattern called, 4-7-8 breathing. Medical News Today wrote an article that talks about the benefits of this kind of breathing and why it is beneficial. This type of breathing pattern can be done anywhere, anytime! Self care is the most important thing someone can do to help manage their stress. If time is the biggest issue, trying doing one thing per day to make your life healthier. By doing this, stress will inevitably go down.
Ask yourself, why am I worrying about this? Does it really matter?
There are instances in people’s lives that can totally change their
perspectives on their own life. Two times that this has happened to me was serving on a mission trip to India, where I got to see true hunger, true suffering, true poorness. Going somewhere like that makes you realize that the little things in life do not matter. You hit every red light on your way to work which made you a few minutes late, you forgot it was your turn to make cupcakes for your child’s classroom, the list can go on and on. At the end of the day, will these little things matter? We need to look at the little instances in our daily lives and ask ourselves if these things are worth wasting our time worrying over. At the end of the day, choosing to control what we worry about will decrease our stress levels. Every thought, action, and reaction in this life is OUR CHOICE. Choose to stop, take a breath, and act (not react) about the little stressors.
Get off of social media and gaming systems.
We spend too much time on our phones or computers and gaming systems. What does this do to us? It forces us to see anything in just a touch of a screen-tap, it steals time away from those sitting right next to us and it robs us of things that can decrease our stress-our loved ones, our friends, our hobbies that we should be prioritizing. Social media portrays ‘an ideal life, an ideal image, etc’ and all of us stress about not being like what social media portrays. I could get on a soapbox about social media, but I won’t. Long story short, get off your screens and back into reality. By separating what the media thinks our lives should be like and being grateful for the life we have, will help us decrease stress and increase happiness.
There are many ways to decrease the stress in our daily lives, these four just being some of them. Prioritize yourself and the ones and things that make you happy and less stressed, get off social media, choose to change how you view the stressful situations and learn how to control your life. Choose what is a true crisis where stress can be helpful and choose to learn what is not. Learning to do this and to slow down and appreciate the small things in your life will help get instant stress relief and instant happiness.