Updated: Feb 14, 2021
Welcome back to part 2 of this series!
Now that you’ve identified and categorized your stressors, I hope to offer you 15 ways to cope with them. While these 15 techniques are handy, these tips won’t address your stressors directly. That means you still need to understand your stressors first before trying any of these stress-relieving techniques. If you want to learn more about how to understand your stressors, check out part 1 of this blog series here.
15 Quick Techniques to Handle Stress
Stress is about worrying about what might happen, which doesn’t let you live in the moment. Meditation is about focusing on the present. If you have time, we recommend reading a book called The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment that explains this in more depth. If you like watching videos, there are videos by the author explaining his ideas.
With that, I conclude this point with one of my favorite quotes:
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.”
2. Talk to people about your stress
Talking about what makes us stressed calms us. Our friends and family are our greatest support network; most of the time, they help us feel better after we have a chat with them. We encourage you to talk with these people in your life to deepen your relationships with them if it’s appropriate.
While chatting with people you trust is helpful, sharing problems all the time may potentially harm those listening to you. Your family and friends care about you, but they too have their own stressors that they are trying to deal with, and they may not have someone to talk to about them.
Friends and family are not always trained to know what’s the right thing to say. Sometimes, their response may also be out-of-place when listening as their comments may sound judgemental or critical -- and this is normal if they’ve received no training. In some circumstances, you may find it harder (and awkward, honestly) to talk to them if they are the ones causing your stress.
Because we had the same problem, we created Talklet. That way, we can talk to people who are qualified without worrying about safety or competency issues.
3. Try Yoga, Tai chi, and Qigong
Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong are exercises that will also help relieve stress. They are forms of exercises based on simple physical structure - the basic principle of movement and the use of the mind. These exercises will strengthen your muscles and help you develop concentration and focus, thus helping you relax. If you’re stressed, it may help to practice one of them daily. If you are new to these exercises, be sure you have the proper guidance to protect yourself, whether by reading instruction books, watching instructors do them on Youtube, or even taking classes.
Exercising helps you feel less stress. It does that by increasing the brain chemicals that make you feel good called endorphins. So, exercising will help you stay physically and mentally fit!
Even a 20 minute run every day makes a great difference. If you don’t enjoy working out and exercising, you can do planks because it only takes a few minutes for you to exert a lot of effort. You can also do the 30-day plank challenge to help you reach the 5-minute target at the end. There are many routines available online to help you with the plank challenge, just pick the one you are most comfortable with. My advice is to don’t overwork yourself or make the exercise incorrectly because you may end up injuring yourself (speaking from personal experience).
Interested in creating art? Drawing can be as effective as meditation. If you aren’t good at drawing, you can just color in pictures or mandalas. In fact, a study on Art Therapy shows that coloring on a mandala design is more effective at relieving stress than on a plaid design or on a blank paper.
6. Deep breathing
One tip people forget is to breathe. People who have stress and anxiety find it hard to breathe properly, which increases stress. To ease stress, these are some effective breathing techniques you can practice that only takes a few minutes!
7. Guided imagery
Are you more of a visual person? Guided imagery means that you imagine calm places or situations to relax. You can picture yourself sleeping at the beach or hanging out with some friends. There are videos on the internet that help you get in the mood, accompanied by quiet music and a narrator within the video that is helping you feel better.
8. Listen to some Binaural Beats
Who doesn’t like music? In your day-to-day, you may enjoy Pop, Country, or even Jazz. But you may have one song or tune which you listen to in particular when you’re feeling down or under pressure (like the title of the song by Queens!).
There is a specific type of audio called Binaural beats that can make you feel less stressed. Binaural beats produce different sound waves and have different frequency patterns; each one of these unique frequencies has specific benefits that it achieves. While researcher are still trying to fully understand its effectiveness, there are studies that support their ability to calm us down. But no harm in trying right? Check these beats out next time you need a tune to calm your nerves!
9. Take charge of your train of thoughts
Martin Luther once said:
“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair”.
It is important to learn how to manage your thoughts when you are experiencing stress. If you learn how to relax your mind, you find that you can reduce or eliminate some effects of stress. Whenever you feel you are overthinking or are giving in to stress, you need to say “STOP” then try to shift your thoughts to something more productive and/or more positive.
10. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
This is another effective tip. The key is to tense and relax some muscles until you reach a relaxed state. This can reduce stress and has other benefits like relieving insomnia. Read more about this technique here.
11. Eat food that decreases your stress levels
As weird as that sounds, what you eat can help lower your stress levels. A review article published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences explains this in more detail. Examples of food that’ll make you feel calmer are chocolate, fish, bananas, walnuts, and eggs. If you are a stress-eater, be sure that you don’t eat too much. Stress-eating is a solution that many people resort to, but it leads to other health problems which makes your stress levels higher. Interested in learning more about what food you should be eating?
Check out our article on having a Stress-Reducing Diet.
12. Organize your work
It is very easy in the Zoom era to forget when you clock in and when you leave work, making your work take up most of your time. For your mental health, you need to make a schedule and respect it as much as possible. It’s also important to dedicate specific places for your work if you are working remotely to separate work from personal life. The worst thing you can do is to feel that you live in your own workspace.
You can also try to use a few of the productivity apps such as RescueTime and Evernote. These apps will help you set priorities for your tasks and remind you when you need to do them. Also, you should follow the Pomodoro Technique where you get to work for intervals of 25 minutes with complete focus then rest for 5 minutes. It is very effective, but just know that it is difficult to do them more than 5-6 times a day.
13. Hobbies and activities:
When you get stressed, participate in activities and hobbies. These activities can be sports (even if you do them solo and indoors, which may not be easy), participate in virtual activities, or even learn a new skill. At least one of your friends will become the next MasterChef, why don’t you try to learn from them?!
14. Reach out to old friends:
Catch up with a friend you care about! Just talking to someone you haven’t talked to for a while helps you remember the good old memories. Everyone feels nostalgic from time to time, and nostalgia is a powerful positive emotion that can overcome stress.
15. Watch funny TV shows:
You guessed it, folks! When you watch a funny video or show, it gives your mind a temporary break from the outside world and you get to be part of the funny lives of the characters. With all the bad news we hear from everywhere, it’s healthy to have a good laugh every now and then.
As you can see from the chart, The Office is the top show (because literally every character is hysterical) followed by other famous shows. If you have finished the series, you can always replay it as many times as you want. These shows never get old.
No one technique will instantly solve all your problems, but these 15 tips can put your body and mind at ease so you can face your stressors one by one.
I’ve shared many tips with you today, but there are also many more out there that may work for you too! Pick and choose which technique is most comfortable for you but don’t be afraid to try something new as well. No matter which tip you try, the first thing you need is to take responsibility for your stress and your own stress relief. This will help you take control of your life as well.
Interested in learning more tips? Check out our Instagram page @mytalklet for daily tips to improve your mental health!
By: Ragy Amin