Stress is a fickle entity. Without it, we wouldn’t feel the push to move forward in life. Too much of it, and we hit a brick wall. It’s important that we notice the warning signs telling us we’ve become much too stressed out, and take steps to alleviate the pressure building up inside of us.
1. Vent to a friend
Sometimes, you just need to let off some steam. If you choose this outlet, it’s best to find a trustworthy individual who can give you some actionable advice. Of course, you might not even need advice, and just want to share some horror story from work so a friend can commiserate with you. That’s perfectly fine once in a while, but make sure you don’t become “that friend” who constantly dumps his own burden on everyone else. Telling the story of your awful day for comedic relief is one thing, but being a complainer is a whole different story.
2. Get lost in a book
After a stressful day, it’s tempting to come home, turn on the TV, and veg out for the night. The problem with this is watching television is a passive action. You’ll most likely end up stewing about your awful day for the rest of the evening anyway. Picking up a book will allow you to relax your body, while keeping your mind actively engaged in something completely unrelated to the terrible day you just had. Depending on what book you chose, you might gain some perspective throughout your reading session. You never know, you might realize your day wasn’t all that bad in the first place.
3. Write in a journal
Growing up, I never realized how helpful and therapeutic writing could be. Since I started writing for Lifehack a few months ago, I’ve realized that I completely wasted a large amount of my life stressing out about things and thinking in circles, when I could have been writing my ideas and feelings out on paper (or a computer screen, at least) to make sense of them. Writing a bunch of self-help articles for others to learn from has (ironically) taught me a ton about how I can help myself. Truthfully, I’ve never felt as active as I currently feel. I really do believe it comes from the enormous amount of writing I’ve undertaken in the past year.
Again, I know after a tough day at the office you just want to get home to your comfort zone. However, hitting the gym for a quick bike session can do wonders for your emotional and physical health. It’s pretty obvious that working out has physical benefits, but it’s incredibly surprising how much better you’ll feel mentally after taking an hour after work to push yourself even farther. Then, when you’re back at home, you’ll most likely find you’re too exhausted to be upset anymore!
Try to remember the last time you were somewhere that was completely removed from all other stimuli. You probably can’t — and that’s okay. Honestly, today’s world is so busy that it’s almost impossible to find time to simply exist without a phone ringing, or a car alarm going off, or something to interrupt your moment of relaxation. Because of this, we must actively find time to remove ourselves from the world, sit quietly, and spend time in deep thought. Doing so will help clear our minds and find solutions to the problems we’ve been facing, so we can start the next day without carrying baggage over from the day before.
This goes along with meditation. The days of working 9-5 are all but finished, as our phones and computers keep us constantly plugged into our careers. Our phone beeps with an email from the boss at 7:00 PM, and that keeps us from enjoying our family dinner. A colleague texts you at 9:00 at night to tell you he’s calling in the next day, so you spend the rest of the night stressing out about all the slack you’ll have to pick up tomorrow. Try this: turn off your phone. Don’t check your email. If you’re not contractually obligated to do work outside of your normal hours — don’t. You’ll find you have much more time on your hands than you thought you did to do the things you enjoy.
7. Eat healthier
Ditch the typical comfort foods, such as ice cream and cookies, and begin eating foods that will benefit you in the long run. The vitamins found in fruits and vegetables, and the protein found in other wholesome foods will make you feel better physically, which in turn will improve your mental state as well. You don’t have to suffer, either. There are plenty of ways to make healthy foods taste amazing. Put in the effort to find alternatives to the usual junk food full of sugars and fats that would otherwise be your go-to snacks. Your body will thank you.
8. Reward yourself
Be kind to yourself, and give yourself a treat every once in a while. Everything is okay in moderation. So once in a while, throw all this other advice out the window. Binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. Lose track of time playing video-games like you used to as a kid. Go eat a banana split… No, eat two! You’re a hard-working adult, and you deserve to indulge yourself in some less-than-healthy activities every once in a while. Like I said, be careful to not overindulge, or you risk getting caught in a vicious cycle which will only serve to exacerbate your stress level.
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