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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

11 Simple and Effective Ways to Manage Stress

11 Simple and Effective Ways to Manage Stress

Stress can be one of the most crippling things to struggle with on a regular basis. Its debilitating nature can make it difficult to focus and immobilize our minds, bodies, and emotions.

Figuring out how to manage stress can be challenging. Anxious thoughts and feelings can’t simply be bandaged over and left to heal like a cut or scrape. The overwhelming emotions that accompany stress can make coming up with a plan of action feel like an impossible task.

But don’t despair! There are actually plenty of ways to address stress and anxiety, many of which are simple to implement and can quickly make a difference.

In this article, you will learn the effective ways on how to manage stress. But before that, let’s understand the problem more first.

What Is Stress?

Did you know that over a quarter of a billion people around the world suffered from anxiety in 2016 alone? And yet, less than half of those struggling with stress are doing something about it. Part of the issue stems from the fact that often, it’s difficult to even know where to start.

It’s important to understand the distinction between a genuine stress disorder and the mere feeling of being stressed. The latter is actually a good, honest human emotion. It’s part of what keeps us alive and kicking. If you never experienced stress, you wouldn’t feel motivated to do much of what you need to thrive in life.

However, once you start to feel afraid of those anxious feelings, that’s when you know you’ve got a problem.

Stress disorder symptoms can manifest in our lives in a variety of mental, physical, and emotional ways. Here are a few of the different symptoms you might find if you’re dealing with stress on a serious level:

  • Issues with remembering things
  • Feeling irritable
  • Depression and negativity
  • Mood swings
  • Serious headaches
  • Fluctuations in sleep patterns

While there are plenty of other symptoms, outlining all of the ways that stress can hurt you would be a Herculean task. Instead, let’s start discussing solutions.

Just remember that stress and anxiety are able to physically, mentally, and emotionally cripple us. It’s a critical part of the recovery process that we diagnose the problem when it becomes serious.

And then take steps to address it.

11 Simple and Effective Ways to Manage Stress

Self-awareness regarding your stress levels is a good first step, but it isn’t likely to resolve all of the issues. Once you have a grasp of how bad your stress and anxiety levels are, it’s time to look at ways to manage that stress.

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We’re not talking about dozens of time-consuming, expensive visits to a therapist. While therapy may be an answer for some, often the best solutions can be elegantly simple and impressively effective.

1. Take a Deep Breath

Let’s start off with one of the most easily overlooked solutions: taking a deep breath.

This might sound basic, but it truly is one of the greatest anti-stress tools that you have at your disposal. Remember, stress is an emotional response. It indicates an overload of the senses and an inability to process your circumstances properly.

When you find yourself confronted by a stressful situation and you feel that fear creeping into your thoughts, the first and best thing you can do is slow down and take a few deep breaths.

This provides oxygen for your brain and allows you to retake control over your cognitive process, which can help channel your thoughts and emotions in a positive direction. Rather than simply panicking, you’ll find that a deep breath gives you the ability to think rationally no matter how bad the situation is.

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a free, always-accessible, easy-to-implement coping mechanism you can rely on in practically any stressful scenario.

2. The Power of a Massage

If you’re literally feeling wound up by all of the stress, one of the best physical solutions available is to get a massage.

The calming effects of a good massage are an excellent way to help address the physical symptoms of stress. Further, if you consider the fact that it forces you to sit still and relax for a significant chunk of time, it can make it the perfect way to slow down and let your body unwind.

Even if you can’t afford to dish out the cash to go to a quality spa on a regular basis, you can always consider investing in something like a massage chair in order to get a similar effect. These can offer back massages, foot massages, and heat therapy, bringing the effects of a massage right into the comfort of your own home.[1]

3. Fire up That Diffuser

If you find yourself confronted with a predictably stressful situation on a regular basis — say, for example, in your workplace — it can be helpful to head off the stress by using one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Aromatherapy is an affordable and easy way to manage stress in a long-term situation. All you need to do is get a good diffuser, some water, and some essential oils.

Lavender essential oil is one of the best options when it comes to stress. Not only is it a gentle fragrance and natural air freshener (so it won’t seem out of place to pump a room full of the stuff), but it’s also excellent for promoting mental well-being and sleep quality, both of which are important factors in the fight to reduce stress.[2]

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4. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

While we’re on the topic of your mental well-being, another really important step in conquering our fear of stress is to practice having an attitude of gratitude.

Again, this may sound like a simplistic suggestion, but the concept of “watching your attitude” isn’t just helpful for curbing the negativity of a stubborn three-year-old; it’s age-old wisdom that applies to everyone.

One of the best ways to begin to gain control over our thought processes (especially those negative ones!) is to understand the cognitive behavioral therapy concept of cognitive distortions. These are classic ways that the human brain tends to warp information, all of which can quickly lead to stress and anxiety.

If you can begin to identify thought processes like “disqualifying the positive” or “jumping to conclusions,” you’re much more likely to catch yourself and focus on being grateful, instead.[3]

Here’re some ways to help you practice gratitude daily: 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude

5. Revolutionize Your Sleep

Did you know that the average night sleep for a modern American is less than 7n hours? It was over 8 hours fewer than a century ago.

The truth is, 6 hours of sleep a day just doesn’t cut it. Not only that, but sleep is a crucial part of living a healthy, happy life — and naturally, also a life with less stress.

If you’re feeling stressed, one of the first things to do is take your sleep schedule seriously. This doesn’t just include longer sleep times. Make sure to avoid screens before you go to bed, and consider implementing something like lavender essential oils in order to improve the quality of your sleep as well.[4]

6. Break out the CBD Oils

While we’ve talked about essential oils a couple of times now, another great oil that can help combat stress and anxiety is CBD oil.

CBD oil is a powerful natural supplement that, like lavender, doesn’t just combat anxiety, but promotes overall mental wellness. It can help improve sleep and relieve depression symptoms, as well, all of which are natural remedies for addressing long-term, chronic stress.

If diffusing lavender just isn’t doing the trick, or if you can’t stand the overly floral aroma, you may want to consider taking some CBD oil as an alternative to help combat the stress.

7. Get Moving

Another tried-and-true way to address stress is to get up and get moving.

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Whether you’re heading to the gym, going for a long run, or hitting up the park with your dog by your side for some company, it’s important to carve out some time to exercise. It may be preaching to the choir at this point, but it bears repeating:

Stress isn’t just a mental battle, nor is it just an emotional struggle — it affects our physical bodies as well.

Getting exercise helps release endorphins, gives you a confidence boost, gets you out in the sunlight, and helps distract you from whatever is causing you to feel anxious. In the same way that exercise is a classic anti-depression tool, it’s worth adding into the mix as you try to find relief from the stresses and strains of life.[5]

8. Get Everything off Your Mind

One of the ways stress can cripple us is by muddling up our thoughts. Between unprocessed feelings and fretting about unknown or unpredictable events, anxiety and stress can easily make a person feel like they’re drowning.

One of the best ways to clear your thoughts and regain control over your mind when you’re dealing with serious stress is to simply grab a pen and paper and write everything down. You can make a pros and cons list, organize everything by categories, or create a mind map.

However you choose to go about it, taking the time to write down and organize your thoughts can immediately ease the pressure and help take the fear and worry out of a situation.

Take a look at this article and learn more about the technique: How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

9. Grab a Stick of Gum

Did you know that chewing gum has been shown to both increase memory recall and reduce stress?

The important thing with this suggestion is to give it a decent chance. Some studies have shown that the actual act of chewing gum can be a bit distracting at first, but when implemented for the long term, it can actually be quite an effective anti-stress tactic.

It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a huge workload at school or dealing with unreasonable demands at work — keeping a pack of gum in your pocket can be a great go-to option when you feel your stress levels rising.[6]

10. Laughter Is Still the Best Medicine

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but laughter is still the number one prescription for a healthy life.

It isn’t just an old wives’ tale, either. The science really does back this one up. Laughter provides a host of different short- and long-term benefits, particularly in the area of — you guessed it — stress.

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Laughter smooths tension away, alleviates pain, helps with your mood, and even brings a flood of oxygen-rich air into your body.

If you find yourself feeling stressed out, look for a friend or two and do something fun that you know will get you laughing.[7]

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Finally, just like pausing to take a deep breath, another tried-and-true stress management tactic is developing the simple ability to say “no.”

It’s always admirable to help those in need. No one is arguing that. But in the same way that you should put your own oxygen mask on before the child sitting next to you on a plane, it’s critical to understand that if you aren’t aware of your own limits, you’re likely to end up being less effective for everyone.

If insecurities and the fear of rejection lead you to uncontrollably say “yes” every time you’re asked to do something, sooner or later you’re going to have a panic attack.

As you practice many of the things on this list and gain more control over your thoughts and feelings, begin to practice the complex and challenging art of simply saying “no” sometimes. It doesn’t mean you need to become a selfish person. Just take a moment to weigh each request against your ability to take the time and effort to help properly.

If you want to learn about how to say no, this article is for you: The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Bottom Line

There are clearly plenty of ways to cope with stress and anxiety in our lives. The important thing, though, isn’t which of the items on this list you choose to try, but rather that you understand where you’re trying to get to.

Remember, stress isn’t a bad thing on its own. It’s a natural part of life that actually has many benefits. However, letting stress itself dictate our mood, thoughts, and feelings can be detrimental to our physical and mental state.

So take some time now, pick 2 or 3 things from the list, and commit to implementing them from here forward. As you slowly mature and regain control over your stress, continue to add more things from the list.

Before you know it, you’ll be breathing easy and coping masterfully through each and every stressful situation that life throws your way.

More Stress Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

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Published on February 26, 2021

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

Need an energy boost? Don’t reach for that soft drink! Sure, the sugar and caffeine might make you feel more energized, but that feeling is only a temporary spike in blood sugar. When it wears off, you’ll crash—and feel even worse than before!

The good news is that there are plenty of natural energy drinks that can ramp up your energy levels without spiking your blood sugar. That means no energy crash and no empty calories. Many of these drinks can even be made at home, so you can easily avoid the added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Here are eight of the best natural energy drinks you can try (and make) for yourself at home.

1. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha has a long list of health properties: B vitamins, glucuronic acid (a detoxifier), and loads of antioxidant-rich polyphenols. But what kombucha is best known for is its probiotic bacteria and acetic acid, which have been shown to boost energy levels.[1]

Probiotics play a huge role in energy production. Studies suggest that by improving the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, your “friendly” bacteria will be better able to break down the nutrients in the food you eat.[2] This means you’ll get a natural energy boost from eating the right foods!

Acetic acid has even been shown to increase your metabolism, which means you’ll be using calories from food more efficiently. Acetic acid is the only short-chain fatty acid to reach the systemic circulation in significant amounts where it provides energy for muscles and other tissues. It’s also non-insulinogenic, which means it won’t give you a blood sugar spike.

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You can brew kombucha yourself at home by obtaining a SCOBY, or you can buy bottled kombucha in a store. Just make sure you buy the real stuff![3]

2. Oolong Tea

Poor energy levels can be reversed with a delicious cup of oolong tea. This ancient Chinese beverage is also known as “black dragon tea,” and it’s packed with catechins similar to those found in green tea. These catechins work by promoting your body’s ability to break down fat, which can boost energy levels.

Studies suggest that the catechins in oolong help your body to use fat cells for energy, while the mild caffeine content can give you a quick boost for getting through the day. It’s also been found that drinking full-strength oolong tea may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by 12%, which means you’ll be better able to obtain energy from food. It may even help with weight loss![4]

You can make oolong tea with tea bags or loose leaves. Try blending it with green tea for an added boost!

3. Green Tea

Famous the world over, green tea is a powerhouse of health benefits and is often included in the list of beverages used by athletes for extra energy. The caffeine content of green tea is mostly responsible for its energizing benefits. Studies have shown that a regular cup or two of green tea can boost your metabolism and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.[5]

Moreover, green tea is believed to increase fat-burning by encouraging your fat cells to release fat, then stimulating your liver’s ability to convert that body fat into energy. This is particularly helpful for weight loss! Try drinking green tea throughout the day to keep your metabolism ticking and your brain active. A cup or two before a workout could also contribute to your endurance and stamina.

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4. Kvass

Kvass is another fermented food, like kombucha—but it’s made from rye bread.[6] This traditional Slavic and Baltic drink is actually known as “black bread,” and it’s still enjoyed in many Eastern European countries.

Kvass can be flavored with fruits, such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs, such as mint. Traditionally, kvass is served unfiltered with its natural yeast content, which adds to its unique flavor. It’s a good source of B vitamins, which help your body produce energy. Kvass also contains lactic acid and simple sugars, which can be helpful for a quick boost.[7]

Like kombucha, the fermenting process of kvass allows for beneficial bacteria that may improve your digestion. This means you’ll be better able to absorb the energy content of foods you eat. Kvass can also be made with beetroot, which boosts its nutritional content and has excellent benefits you’re your gut microbiome. Beets are a good source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients. These are made more bioavailable when fermented into kvass!

5. Matcha

Matcha is one of Japan’s most revered beverages. It’s made by crushing green tea leaves into a fine, bright green powder before being mixed in with hot or cold water. This process helps to retain many of the natural antioxidants and other nutrients in the leaves.[8]

The matcha tea bushes are grown in areas out of sunlight, which delays photosynthesis and slows the growth of the plant. The result is a higher concentration of chlorophyll, a powerful detoxifier, and a good energy source.

Drinking matcha means you’re drinking the whole leaf—all the natural caffeine and antioxidants. The nutritional content is thought to be almost 10 times greater than traditionally steeped green tea! Best of all, matcha provides the energy that comes on gently, rather than the “hit” that coffee supplies.

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6. Coconut Water

Coconut water may be 95% water, but it’s still a great source of energizing minerals. Coconut water is the clear liquid found in green coconuts, and it’s a naturally sweet and refreshing drink.

Coconut water is a much healthier alternative to sports drinks—and contains more than 10 times the potassium! Potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, which is essential before and during exercise as it has less sodium—the main electrolyte you lose with sweat—than most sport’s drinks. The magnesium in coconut water also supports normal energy production and reduces cramping so you’ll be able to keep exercising for longer.[9]

Most importantly, coconut water has fewer carbohydrates than many commercial sports beverages, which is important for proper rehydration after exercise.

7. Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a type of holly native to South America. It’s a very social drink and famous throughout South America.

Yerba mate can boost your energy levels in much the same way as coffee but without the caffeine jitters! In fact, the energizing effects of yerba mate are described as gentle and calm. Mate drinkers report that they feel more alert but don’t experience the crash that coffee can produce.

It’s for this reason that many athletes use yerba mate to enhance their physical performance before a workout or event. It’s also believed to be helpful to those suffering from mental or physical fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome.

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It’s also mentally energizing—yerba mate enhances memory, boosts mood, and increases concentration. It’s said to make you feel more motivated and be productive by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.[10]

8. Carrot Juice

Carrots are a fantastic source of beta-carotene—the provitamin A carotenoid which your body can quickly convert into vitamin A. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that not only protects your body from free radicals but also bolsters energy levels.

Vitamin A plays many roles in growth and development, and it’s especially important in maintaining energy. Research has shown that vitamin A is crucial for assisting with daily energy production and physical activity.[11] Our cells create energy by first creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. To do this, our cells first need sufficient vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A will directly affect your body’s ATP production, causing your energy levels to dwindle.

Carrot juice is one of the healthiest veggie-based drinks out there, and it has much lower sugar than fruit juices! It’s also super easy to make at home.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to consume artificial energy drinks to get the energy boost you need. Try out these eight natural energy drinks that are packed full of micronutrients to keep you healthy, active, and energized. You just have to put in a little more effort in preparing them, but I guarantee it’s worth it.

More Natural Energy Drinks

Featured photo credit: Raimond Klavins via unsplash.com

Reference

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