Coping With Stress: 18 Highly Effective Strategies For Stress Relief
- Stress makes your body need more oxygen, vitamins, and minerals.
- Vitamin C reduces stress hormones and improves immunity.
- Healthy food and exercise can reduce stress.
- Setting realistic goals also helps to beat stress.
Oh no! I think I lost my valuables on my way back home! Ahh! My assignment deadline got preponed! Oops! I need to redo this entire piece of work again! Sounds familiar? All of us at some point in our lives face this situation where something goes wrong or not as we had planned, and it gives us the jitters. That's stress.
Stress is your body's response to a challenge or demand. Anybody can experience stress and everybody does experience stress at some time in their lives. However, with the right strategies for stress relief, they can be managed well too!
Stress and us
Claude Bernard (1865/1961) noted that the maintenance of life is critically dependent on keeping our body's internal environment constant in the face of a changing environment. Cannon (1929) called this "homeostasis."
Selye (1956) used the term "stress" to represent the effects of anything that seriously threatens homeostasis. The actual or perceived threat to an organism is referred to as the "stressor" and the response to the stressor is called the "stress response".
Various stressors can have a major influence on mood, our sense of well-being, behavior, and health.
How food can relieve stress
Stress creates greater physiologic demands. More energy, oxygen, circulation, and therefore more metabolic cofactors are needed (eg, vitamins and minerals). People under stress need a nutrient-dense diet.
Foods can help relieve stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, can boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. And a healthy diet can counter the impact of stress, by stimulating the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin. Good choices include whole-grain breakfast cereals, bread, and oatmeal. Research shows that calcium eases anxiety and mood swings linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Oranges provide vitamin C. Studies have demonstrated that this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. These stress relief foods are a must if you are not feeling yourself lately.
Keep moving to beat stress
Exercising is not just good for your physical health but also works wonders for your mental health. Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever.
Even if you are not a professional sports person or even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.
Exercise and stress
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being. Physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.
Exercise can provide stress relief for your body while imitating the effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response, and helping your body and its systems practice working together through those effects.
Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, improve your mood, and help you relax. It helps you shift your focus from any stressful situations that you might be facing.
Even 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking, and jogging or 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can act like stress relief exercises for you. Aim to walk at least two miles a day, or do the equivalent amount of another activity.
Add a little strength training like weight-lifting and stretching two to three times a week, and you'll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction.
Breathing exercises for stress
These can be done anywhere and take only a few minutes. If you're sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
If you're sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you're in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
- Then let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again if you find this helpful.
- Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes.
Strategies to take the stress away from you
If you are still figuring out how to relieve your stress, check out these 18 highly effective strategies for stress relief:
1. A healthy input for optimal health: Eat a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, oily fish, and whole grains.
2. Get active: Exercise regularly to stay physically and mentally fit. Try aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, weight-lifting, Tai Chi, etc.
3. Stop using tobacco or nicotine products: Nicotine places more stress on your body by increasing physical arousal and reducing blood flow and breathing, and can worsen chronic pain.
4. Avoid unhealthy habits: People under stress often turn to excess coffee, alcohol, or smoking. All these are known to damage your health.
5. Practice relaxation techniques: Try relaxing your mind and body daily. You can choose from deep breathing exercises to mindful breathing. Just focusing your attention on your breaths can be a great way to start.
6. Yoga: It has a series of postures and breathing techniques to relieve stress.
7. Reduce triggers of stress: Practice time management and learn to ask for help to minimize the unnecessary stress in life.
8. Laugh more: Laughing may not completely cure your problems but can relieve your stress. So tell more jokes, and spread some joy.
9. Connect socially: Reach out to family and friends as they can offer support and guidance in times of stress.
10. Assert yourself: You might want to do it all, but you can't. So learn to say no.
11. Live by your values: The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you'll feel. Use your values when choosing your activities.
12. Set realistic goals and expectations: It's also okay and healthy to realize that you can't be 100% successful at everything all at once. Be mindful of the things you can control.
13. Pat your own back: Build a healthy sense of self-esteem, and appreciate yourself first.
14. Try biofeedback: This behavioral technique helps you learn stress reduction skills by providing information about muscle tension, heart rate, and other vital signs as you attempt to relax. It's used to gain control over certain bodily functions that cause tension and physical pain.
15. Sleep well: Stress can give you sleepless nights. Make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
16. Start journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise stuck emotions.
17. Music to the rescue: Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can provide a mental distraction, reduce muscle tension and decrease stress hormones.
18. Seek counseling or therapy: If you are a victim of sexual violence, or have been in the past, it is advised to seek counseling or speak to a therapist about it. Sexual violence can impact long-term mental health and cause immense stress. Talking to a registered counselor or therapist can help you overcome your struggles and walk towards a stress-free life.
Stress has become a common global epidemic. However, coping with stress can be easy if you follow the right strategies like eating and sleeping well, journaling, listening to music, and seeking professional help.
Improving your social connection with people can also help you overcome your stress. Learn to accept your situation and take conscious steps to address it. Here's wishing you a stressful life.
Did you like our Article?
- 10 Ways you can relieve stress right now are available from Cleveland Clinic
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- Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress available from Mayo Clinic
- Exercising to relax available from Harvard Health Publishing
- Breathing exercises for stress available from NHS
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- Yusuf MA, et al. International Journal of Educational Administration and Policy Studies. 2018 Nov 30;10(10):123-7.
- Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress available from Mayo Clinic
Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Aug, 01 2023