Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, just had your first child, or are having money trouble. You may feel overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it.
We all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques, and knowledge that will allow you to learn how to relieve stress once it comes.
Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life.
1. Get Rationally Optimistic
Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.
This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily fixed by recognizing that although life might not always be going as you think it should, you can still benefit from the moment and find things to be grateful for.
In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”
Some people may find the process of going from pessimistic to optimistic difficult. To get started, try writing down three good things that happen each day. This will begin to help you realign the way you think and find moments of gratitude.
2. Unplug Through Meditation
Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind when your thoughts go into a mental tailspin.
How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.
It isn’t nearly as difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.
If you’re not quite ready to try meditation, start by trying to focus on your breath from time to time. Feeling overwhelmed? Sit down and take five long, deep breaths. See how that changes how you’re feeling.
3. Go Easy on the Caffeine
Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.
According to recent research, low doses of caffeine over time can actually improve your resilience to stress and anxiety, but high levels of continuous caffeine intake has the opposite effect. The point is that while one cup of coffee in the morning or a soda at lunch likely won’t hurt you, do your best to keep your caffeine intake low to ensure lower stress levels.
If you’re ready for it, try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. You can check out other natural ways to boost your energy instead. If that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize caffein intake. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your level of caffeine goes down.
4. Relax the Body Through Supplements
That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and they are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.
How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St. John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea.
Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a naturally-growing flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.
While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation.
5. Do Some Good Old-Fashioned Exercise
This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like getting your heart rate up. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.
The result: mental stress will diminish considerably.
If you’re not currently an active person, that’s ok! Everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re not ready for a gym membership just yet, try going for a ten minute walk each day, or find an exercise buddy to join you at the local track. Pretty soon, you may find you’re motivated to try a new sport or check out that new Zumba class at the gym.
Stress happens to all of us, but we don’t have to let it control our lives. It will naturally come and go, but you can reduce the chunk of time it takes from your happiness by tapping into the tips above and finding what works for you.
More Tips on How to Relieve Stress
- The Importance of Scheduling Downtime
- 3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Relax and Reduce Stress
- How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressed
Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com
|||^||European Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research: Reason for Health Benefits of Meditation: Self Organized Criticality Restores Regulation to Optimal|
|||^||Physiology & Behavior: Protective effect of low dose caffeine on psychological stress and cognitive function|