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Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Suffering from stress can be an almighty strain on ourselves both mentally and physically. It depletes a person’s quality of life and affects those around them. In a world where we are told to have it all, no one necessarily tells us how to cope with it. Stress can come from many sources whether it’s feeling too much pressure, experiencing a sudden loss or gain and not knowing how to deal with it, a change in circumstances or just generated from general anxiety disorders. How people deal with stress is very individual but the main symptoms are usually sickness, fatigue, mood swings and, if prolonged, can develop into forms of depression.

Stress management is really important to keep these feelings in check. You may not fully get rid of it but there are definitely ways to relieve stress and keep it under a certain control. What type of coping strategies you use are crucial as what you may think are healthy ways to relieve stress are unhealthy in the long run. Turning to excessive drink, recreational drugs and prescription drugs are obviously going to be detrimental to your overall health but things like sleeping too much, watching TV for excessive periods, projecting your stress onto others by lashing out are all common actions we take when suffering from stress. However, when dealing with stress we need to be proactive in fighting it rather than letting it take over.

Stage 1: Identifying the Cause of Your Stress

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    Stress can be so common that people can live their lives accepting it – they feel it so often that it’s just become a part of their life and they are unable to know how to cope with it. This is when the unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much or constantly taking it out on other people can come into play. It’s common to stress over many things but it’s key to keep your anxiety focused on real, immediate issues, and tune out imagined ones or those over which you have zero control. This will automatically reduce stress overload. It’s really important to first of all admit that you are feeling stressed and then identifying the cause. It’s only in this space that a person can start to develop a management strategy to help overcome the stress in their lives.

    • Write Down What Your Cause Of Stress Is

    Your reasons for feeling stressed may be obvious or they could be disguised in some way. Writing things down helps you clarify what is causing you the stress in your life – even the less obvious ones. One cause of stress can transcend into many causes so it’s important to find the main culprit and then you can start to think about how to deal with it.

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    •  Plan and Organise Your Day-to-Day Life

    The key to fighting stress is structure. When we’re stressed our mind can be a jumble of thoughts which then mirrors other areas of our life. Creating a plan of the day can allow your mind to cope better with the tasks you need to do. Whether at work or home make a rough schedule of what you want to achieve for that day. Remember to make it open and flexible so as to not add to any current stress.

    • Preparation Is Key

    Feeling unprepared can add to existing stress. The beginning and end of the day are key times to get prepared and control possible causes of stress. A good morning routine will set you up for a positive day. Even getting up 15 minutes earlier will help lessen any unnecessary rushing around and give you more time to organise yourself. At the end of the evening clear up anything that needs finishing so your mind is at ease for the following day.

    Stage 2: Relaxation Techniques For Stress Relief

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      Trying to relax is hard when you suffer from stress. It’s often difficult to stay still while the source of stress is still very much at the forefront of your mind. This is why some people turn to binge-watching TV shows or movies because they think this is a good way to unwind and relax. But often, this is having the opposite effect as the mind will wonder back to stressful thoughts almost straight away. Research has shown that people tend to feel worse after watching a big bout of TV as it promotes feelings of failure and procrastination. There are much more positive relaxation techniques that will help against feelings of stress.

      • Mindfulness Techniques

      Mediation is a great way to manage anxiety. There is a huge amount of research that indicates that practising mindfulness and mediation can reduce stress immensely – not only for your mind but also for your body. Reduced stress through meditation results in lower blood pressure which will lessen chances of heart attacks and other stress-related problems.

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      • Breathing Techniques

      Also related to mediation, taking long deep breathes can really help boost the amount of oxygen that the brain receives. Typically someone suffering from stress will have shorter, sharper breathes and this disrupts the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the body. When you feel particularly stressed, stop and sit down for a few minutes and just concentrate on your breathing. Feel your body relaxing and the muscles losing tension – using this technique several times during the day can help with symptoms of anxiety and clear your head.

      • Doing What Makes You Happy

      This can come in many forms from involving yourself in a hobby you enjoy, making plans with friends to planning a long weekend away. The aim here is to switch off and have fun. Often when we’re stressed, we forget to do the things that we enjoy, which can subtly add more stress to our lives. Being around people that you love and trust can really help lower stress levels, promoting the experience of safety and connection. Avoiding people who are known to stress you out will be beneficial.

      Stage 3: A Healthy Lifestyle For Stress Relief

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        When it comes to stress management nothing does the job better than exercise and diet. Keeping your body healthy will transcend through to your mind. Endorphins are magical when it comes to stress and when released through exercise, they can combat stress fast and effectively. Eating a healthy diet also contributes to stress relief as eating the right foods feeds the mind as well as the body. Finding an all-round healthy routine will help you on your way to down-sizing the stress in your life.

        • Establishing An Exercise Routine

        Exercise should be a priority. It’s important to pick something that you enjoy and you feel you can stick to. Running on a regular basis is especially known to help reduce anxiety, stress and depression but any cardiovascular activity will act as a stress eliminator. Not only will regular exercise make you more relaxed but it will allow you to sleep better. Try exercising with other people as this will encourage you to keep a routine.

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        • Adopting A Healthy Diet

        Eating healthily is a must because a well-nourished body is more prepared to cope with stress. Being mindful of what you’re eating is important as it can be easy to over-eat on the wrong foods when feeling overly stressed. Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating regular healthy meals throughout the day will stop any stressed-induced cravings. Caffeine and sugar can be a hinderance. If you suffer from tiredness and fatigue it is tempting to drink coffee or energy drinks to lift you up but it will often end in a crash affecting your mood attracting further stress. Reducing your caffeine and sugar intake will help level out your body’s reaction to stressful situations.

        • Creating A Good Sleep Pattern

        Since sleep is crucial for daily functioning, any disruption can affect our level of stress which, in turn, can stop us from getting a good night’s sleep. When we fall into this trap it can become routine and our mind and body can start feeling the effects. It’s easy to sleep too much and at irregular times which disrupts our ability to get our 8 hours of sleep a night. Make sure you stick to a good schedule and go to bed at a reasonable hour avoiding any stimulants. If you find it hard to fall asleep try more of the breathing and mindful techniques mentioned earlier – they will help to calm your mind if it’s being over-active.

        Stage 4: Changing Your Perspective Towards Stress

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          For some people stress has become a habit or our natural reactions to stress never change. Sometimes a change in perspective can help overcome stress more easily. Stress starts in the mind and it’s how we react to it that can determine how prolonged it will be. Shifting your mindset on a problem that’s causing you stress can relieve you of the worry and anxiety it creates.

          • Look At The Bigger Picture

          Try to see the bigger picture when it comes to a stressful situation. Ask yourself if it’s really worth getting upset over. Will you still care in a month or a year down the line? How important is this situation for it to cause you this stress?

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          • View Your Problem In A Different Way

          If you find yourself getting stressed then try to think of the problem in a different way. Can you benefit from the situation somehow? For example if you find your commute to work long and tiresome, try to see as it as an opportunity to listen to your favourite music or read that book. Changing the way you perceive your situation to find some benefit to it will diffuse the stress you create around it.

          • Understand That You Can’t Control Everything

          Trying to control a situation and failing will cause you to feel helpless and more stressed. It’s important to understand that you can’t control everything especially other people. Therefore, try to focus on the things you can control like the way you react to situations and other people’s actions. Our mindset is very powerful so make sure you try to shift it to a more positive perspective and you’ll reap the benefits of a less-stressed life.

          Featured photo credit: Mislav Marohnic via flickr.com

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          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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          Published on August 29, 2019

          How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

          How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

          Having a weight loss plateau is perfectly normal. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating though, and it feels like all your hard work has ground to a halt.

          Instead of seeing a weight loss plateau as a roadblock, you need to see them as speed bumps that may get in the way from time to time but, can still be navigated.

          This article will look at what causes these plateaus and how you can get through them the next time they may strike.

          What Is a Weight Loss Plateau?

          The basics of this plateau are that weight loss or fat loss has stalled after a period of progression. But what is the real reason this has happened and why does it occur when it does? Weight loss, or fat loss, has seemed to stall and the first thing to do is to recognize if this is a plateau.

          If you weigh yourself daily, you know that there are fluctuations that occur each day. If you are weighing yourself every day, you want to at least be consistent with it. Your true weight will be first thing in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom. You want to weigh yourself at the same time and also make sure your scale is calibrated properly. Even a floor that is not perfectly even can give you an inaccurate reading.

          It’s important to do this first thing as your weight can fluctuate just over one day, with people often seeing variations of 3-5 pounds. Since there are these daily changes, you want to take a different approach and look at your weekly averages week after week. This will give you a better snapshot at your progress and if you’ve actually reached a plateau or not.

          True weight loss happens over weeks and months and that’s why tracking is important. You should see a gradual decrease over this longer time period. Healthy and sustained weight loss will be around 1-2 pounds per week. It’s a linear path that will have small up and down spikes over the time period but should still move progressively downward.

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          When you see that the weight isn’t gradually dropping the way it had been over the past weeks and months, that can be your sign you’ve hit a true weight loss plateau.

          The Issues with the Scale

          A scale gives you some data but doesn’t always show the whole picture. You will not get an idea of true body composition as a regular scale will not show a balance between lean muscle and body fat. You may have lost 5 pounds of body fat, but gained 5 pounds of muscle and the number on the scale would stay the same. That body compositional change, however, would show some great physical results.

          The body fat loss would help you appear leaner and the lean muscle gain would also enhance your overall appearance. You could look significantly different while the number on the scale hasn’t changed.

          The scale is also not going to reveal issues surrounding water retention or bloating along with the hormonal fluctuations that can cause these issues. You can still check the scale, but a better indicator of weight loss will be with a tape measure.

          When you’ve lost body fat, you will notice your clothes fitting differently and tracking your body part measurements can be a great way to monitor results. If you are going the tape measure route, measure these main areas:

          • Hips
          • Right thigh – at the midrange point
          • Waist – just below your ribcage and above your belly button
          • Chest – measure under the armpits
          • Right bicep – unflexed
          • Right calf
          • Neck

          You can take measurements on your right and left appendages, but this is a good base of measurement to track progress.

          Why Is Your Weight Not Going Down?

          This may be because you are doing too much and not getting enough calories at the same time. If you are overdoing it in the gym, it can be like taking a few steps backward. Your workouts shouldn’t be over 75 minutes (30-40 may be all you need) and you want some rest days throughout the week. If you’re working out every day and exhausting yourself, your body will go into that self-preservation mode, raising stress hormones and, again, making weight loss difficult.

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          If you are involved in an adequate exercise program (3-4 days per week) and going for a reasonable amount of time, you may need to add in a little more physical activity if you’ve reached a weight loss plateau. This doesn’t have to be overly intense but some extra cardio may help. This can be another 5-10 minutes on to what you are normally doing, or one or two 20-minute walks added on to your weekly amount.

          You also want to make sure you’re eating enough and getting into a bit of a calorie deficit[1] if weight loss has stalled. You need not count every calorie but it’s a good idea to take a few days to track your nutrition intake so you at least have a good idea where you’re at.

          Many people do not understand how many calories they are taking in each day. Calorie counting is far from a perfect science but to get a rough ballpark figure, the average woman needs around 2000 calories a day to maintain. An average man will need around 2500 calories.[2] There are many factors that can alter this requirement but this is a good starting point.

          If you’re not losing weight, you’ll want to reduce that amount by around 300 calories each day and see how this is going after a week or so. If there has been no change, you might need to drop another 200 calories. You don’t want this to go lower as not enough calories can have a negative effect on your metabolism and will lead to stalled weight loss.

          Is 1000 Calories a Day Too Little?

          In a word? Yes. Your body needs more than that just to carry out its basic functions of living – and that’s not including you getting up and moving around. Even if you were just to lie on the couch all day, your body will need at least 1200 to 1400 calories just to exist. If you are not giving your body sufficient calories, it goes into panic mode. Your metabolism will drop as your body needs to hold on to every precious calorie to sustain itself. When this happens you can kiss weight loss goodbye. The other problem is eventually you will snap because you are so hungry and will eat everything in sight.

          When you flood calories into a body with a slowed metabolism, you can guess what they end up being stored as.

          Keeping yourself fed with high-quality, and nutritious foods will allow your body to run optimally and provide you with energy to be active, burn body fat, and bust through those weight loss plateaus.

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          What to Do When You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

          This is where it’s important to take a step back and have a look at what’s been going on in your life. Tracking your info can be helpful because it gives you some data to observe. You don’t have to be obsessive about it but recording your workouts, sleep, stress levels and understanding your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and basic metabolic rate (BMR) will help give you an indicator where the problems may arise.

          If you’ve noticed you’ve been overly stressed with work and life lately, this may be the culprit. When your body experiences stress, it elevates stress hormones such as cortisol. When cortisol is constantly elevated, it can slow weight loss to a crawl. Stress hormones are released in the body as a way to preserve itself. The body will be more likely to hold on to body fat as it believes some sort of trauma is happening and it needs all the backup fuel it can get. At this point, your body is not interested in burning body fat, or building muscle – it’s interested in preserving things.

          Higher stress may also lead to a lack of sleep which causes the same issues, and when you add these two together, they compound their negative effects. If you’re seeing this to be the case, it means you will have to slow things down a bit. Make getting extra sleep a priority and you may have to back off the workouts for a bit. Even better, taking some time off from the gym can be a great way to let your whole body, central nervous system, and immune system recover.

          This could be a good time to focus on relaxing, meditation, or yoga. You also want to make sure you’re keeping your diet as clean as possible as eating things like refined sugar and carbs when stressed can easily lead to weight gain.

          Listen to your body and give it a breather when needed. Doing this will allow it to come back stronger than before.

          How to Get Past a Weight Loss Plateau

          When you hit a plateau, it’s a sign that your body is becoming complacent. There is no longer enough stimulation to warrant a response from your body. If you remember back to high school biology, you’ll recall homeostasis. This is a state of balance and it’s the preferred state your body wants to be in. Your body is all about self-preservation and keeping things stable. This is an evolutionary response to conserve energy for those times when it may be more needed.

          Your body will learn to do things as efficiently as possible and therefore, you will progress with weight loss, and muscle and strength gains for a while – but then it hits a wall. Your body has figured out how to efficiently manage what you’re throwing at it, and this means it’s time to switch things up.

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          For workouts, you want to always keep your body guessing. The best workout is the one you haven’t done yet. Your body needs an ever-changing stimulus in order to get more results. The good news is this doesn’t have to be a drastic overhaul. If you’re exercising, you just want to make changes to your routine, exercise order, duration, or repetitions. At the very least, you want to do at least what you did last workout – plus a little more. If you ran for 30 minutes, go for 32 next time. If you did 10 repetitions of an exercise, go for 11 or 12.

          You can change the order of the exercises you do, perform some cardio before strength training, add in some high-intensity intervals, or shorten your rest periods between sets. The main thing is to give a bit of a shock to your body in order for it to change.

          Final Thoughts

          Weight loss plateaus will happen, it’s just all about being prepared for when they strike. Getting an understanding of why they happen is important to progress past them. What’s also important is realizing how your body works, and what it needs in order for it to respond favourably to exercise and diet.

          A weight-loss plateau can be overcome with changes in activity, addressing lifestyle issues, and keeping the diet as clean as possible. Recognizing when stress has overwhelmed you, sleep is being neglected, and you need a break will go a long way in helping combat weight loss plateaus.

          You also need to be aware of consuming enough calories per day and the issues that come from not nourishing your body properly. Healthy weight loss is all about combining exercise, diet, rest, recovery, and an overall holistic approach for it to happen.

          More About Healthy Weight Loss

          Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

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