If you’re like the majority of the human race, you probably turn to some not-so-healthy coping mechanisms when you’re faced with stress. While this is totally normal, it simply doesn’t benefit you! Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, choose not to turn to copious amounts of junk food, substances like alcohol and caffeine, or other methods of coping that become detrimental to you over time. Instead, try out one (or a few) of these 10 healthy ways to handle stress!
Not only is exercise beneficial for your physical health, but it also releases endorphins that give you an instant mood boost. After only five minutes of exercise, your tension level will decrease! Exercise can also improve your sleep and your self-esteem. And you don’t have to turn to an intense workout to experience these great benefits; a simple walk around the neighborhood or some time spent dancing to your favorite music will do the trick! The best thing is to find a type of exercise that you truly enjoy, and turn to it when you’re not feeling your best.
2. Meditate and/or do breathing exercises
You don’t have to sit in silence to meditate; there are thousands of different guided meditations out there that can help you to relax and clear your mind. Breathing exercises are also extremely powerful in reducing stress and helping you to calm down. If the idea of meditation is foreign or strange to you, don’t worry! All you really need to do is sit down and focus on your breathing for a few minutes, or take a quick scan of your body, relaxing your muscles one by one to relieve tension and gain mental wellness.
3. Connect with nature
Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, and we tend to underestimate just how beneficial nature can be. Take a few minutes to sit in your backyard or to walk around your neighborhood. Take deep breaths of the fresh air and allow yourself to feel invigorated! If that isn’t an option for you, even pulling up nature videos on your phone or computer can be helpful.
4. Spend time with a friend or loved one
Of course, it’s not quite as simple to socialize since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but even a text, a call, or a brief video chat can lift your spirits. Nurturing a connection with another person or talking to them about what you’re feeling can help quite a bit as far as stress management. If you don’t want to share your feelings with others, ask them about their lives. This will help you to remember that the world continues to turn and life goes on, even when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed.
5. Eat healthy food
Rather than binging on junk food (we’ve all been there), choose something healthier to eat. Many foods are associated with both physical and mental benefits. Nuts, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, and veggies can all give you a boost while providing valuable nutrients to your body. If you feel up to it, you could even get out a cookbook and prepare a healthy meal!
6. Get plenty of sleep
Although it’s easier said than done, consistently getting plenty of sleep can have amazingly beneficial effects on your stress levels. Do your best to optimize your sleeping environment and to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Your body and mind need rest, so don’t deprive yourself of sleep!
7. Engage with your favorite hobbies
Maybe you already have a few hobbies that you enjoy doing every now and then, but if you don’t, look back to your childhood. What did you enjoy doing? Maybe you wrote stories, spent hours drawing, or enjoyed putting together models. Embrace your childhood interests and spend some time focusing on nothing but your hobbies! When you engage with hobbies, you bring a sense of fun and freedom into your life, counteracting the effects of stress.
8. Spend time with a pet
It hardly needs to be explained that spending time with a furry friend can have wonderful effects on your overall wellbeing. There’s just something about the unconditional love that our pets give us that can help us to feel that things really aren’t as bad as they seem. If you don’t have a pet, you could volunteer at an animal shelter, spend time with a friend’s pets, or even watch cute animal videos.
9. Talk about your problems
When we hold our feelings inside, they tend to grow larger and larger until we explode. Talking about your problems with others is one way to counteract this and keep from getting to the point where you can’t hold in your emotions any longer. Vent to a trusted friend or loved one, and observe the way your stress and tension decrease.
10 .Recognize when you need help
We all experience stress at times, but if it seems to be taking over your life, or if you’re struggling to get through your regular responsibilities, you may need additional help. This is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about! In fact, if you’ve recognized that you need help, that’s something to be proud of. Do a quick search for mental health professionals in your area, or take a look at online counseling platforms. Help is widely available, as long as you’re willing to seek it out!
The Bottom Line
Everyone has their own way of coping with stress, but some coping mechanisms are healthier than others. Exercising, meditating, and connecting with nature are a few simple ways to lessen stress and tension. Spending time with a friend or a pet, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep can also play a part in relieving stress. Having fun with hobbies and venting to others about stressful situations are still more healthy coping skills. Finally, recognizing when you need to reach out for help is a great way to deal with stress that has taken over your life.
Author Marie Miguel’s Biography:
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.