12 Things You Can Do Daily to Reduce Your Stress Levels
Reduce your stress levels by adding these 12 things into your daily routine (Plus FREE Checklist)
We often talk about being stressed quite frequently in our life.
You can feel stressed-out about the school-run, the meeting with the bank manager, what to make for dinner, the house move, the new job, trying to fit in 101 tasks to your day, and the poor health of a loved one. You can even feel stressed about going on holiday, birthdays, Christmas, or even buying new shoes!
Stress comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. What causes you to feel stressed is personal to you, and also how stressed-out you feel to begin with.
For example, have you ever lost your cool with someone over something really trivial? Something that normally you wouldn’t bat an eyelid about?
Have you ever found yourself sobbing because you are so tired, or just totally frustrated with something?
Do you ever dash about so much in the day that you forget to eat lunch, or find that by dinner-time the last drink you had was your morning coffee?
If you can relate to any of these examples, read on.
What follows are 12 simple daily things that you can do to help keep your stress levels to a minimum and prevent your mind and body from total burn-out.
Good Stress, Bad Stress
Some stress in your life is good.
This 'good' type of stress will keep you on your toes and performing at your best.
If you have ever sat an exam, a driving test, or had to speak in front of an audience, you will have experienced stress.
Your adrenaline will have kicked in, and you may have had shaky, sweaty hands, shortness of breath, and a more rapid heartbeat. These are all normal reactions. If you master this adrenaline rush, it will help you perform to a high standard as your mind and body are on high alert.
After the situation is over, you will feel relieved, or even elated. Your body will start to relax again, your mind will begin to calm and gradually you will return to your normal state.
The danger with stress, however, is when you don’t return to a normal resting state, but end up going into another stress-inducing situation.
Your stress levels keep mounting higher and higher. Before you know it, every little thing that you experience in life becomes a stressful situation. You can’t cope. Your body is on constant high alert, you start to get headaches, you can’t think straight and life becomes a constant challenge.
Constant Daily Stress
In our modern lives, it is so easy to find yourself stuck in a constant loop of stress-inducing circumstances.
We have to be available 24/7 as the world is always online. Our homes have electricity so that we can turn the lights on in the dark, watch TV ‘til way past bed-time, and even quickly heat up processed foods in our oven day or night.
We call this ‘home comforts’. The irony is that these ‘comforts’ contribute to our declining mental and physical health as human beings.
So, let’s get back to some simple daily actions that you can take to help stop the downward spiral of stress.
You either love it or loathe it, but without it your health is sure to suffer.
To keep stress at bay, you need to take some regular gentle exercise. This helps to keep your circulatory and respiratory systems happy, and helps to tone and strengthen your muscles.
You don’t need to be a ‘gym-bunny’ or fitness fanatic, just try a daily walk, cycle or swim. Stretch often - do some Pilates or yoga moves.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Having a balanced diet helps to maintain the optimum vitamin and nutrient levels that are needed for your body. This in turn will help your body fight disease and improve it’s ability to heal and repair itself.
This will make you feel so much better in yourself as you are less likely to be affected by illness and weight-gain.
Stick to low fat, low sugar meals and snacks. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, consult your dietitian to make sure that you are not missing out on any essential nutrients.
3. Keep Hydrated
Basically, you need to drink water.
So many of our bodily functions require water, yet we tend to neglect this basic need.
Drinking water also helps to flush out toxins from our body so keep caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic drinks to a minimum, as these can cause dehydration and also be a stimulant to our already stressed system.
4. Get Enough Sleep
You know what it feels like to have little sleep. You feel exhausted and grumpy, and no matter how many calories and how much caffeine you consume in the day, you just can’t find the energy to keep going with a smile!
Sleep is not time wasted. You body needs this time to re-balance and repair. Your mind needs it to rest and reorganise thoughts, especially during stressful times. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.
Aim to have at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Start up a bedtime routine that means you wind down at least an hour before going to sleep. This is a habit that will make a huge, positive difference to your life.
Laughing helps to lower your stress levels and boost your natural ‘happy’ hormones within your body.
It’s such a simple stress-release technique, yet we just don’t laugh enough.
When was the last time you had a proper laugh?
I’m not talking about a snigger that lasts a few seconds. I’m talking about a long laugh that came from deep within your belly?
You don’t need to find anything funny to laugh at. Just like your body and mind find it hard to differentiate between real stress and stress on the TV, it doesn’t know if you are laughing for humour or just faking it.
Try it. Just laugh, and laugh more. Fake it until your body takes over and your laughing becomes real.
Believe me, you will feel better for it.
6. Prioritise Your Daily Tasks
Set some time aside each day to make a list of your tasks, then put them in order of priority.
Focus on these tasks in order, and make sure you take regular breaks - say 5 minutes every half hour. This will help prevent overwhelm, make sure that you are achieving your goals and the breaks will keep your mind and body recharge so that you can continue without feeling tired or run-down.
7. Learn to say ‘No’
If the requests of others don’t fit in with your own goals, or they are simply too demanding on your already precious time, then admit it, and gently say ‘no’ to them.
If they care for you, they will understand and find someone else to help them.
8. Learn to ask for help
'Man is not an island'.
Just as others ask you for help, you must start to ask others to help you.
Don’t feel over-burdened, just ask them to do some simple tasks. This includes kids and other family members. The earlier your kids learn to pick up their toys, use the washing machine, clean the dishes or do some simple gardening, the better for both you and them!
9. Be Mindful of What You Read or Watch on TV/Social Media
TV, social media and books are all about drama, as this makes great entertainment. Our body and mind, however, finds it difficult to differentiate between fiction and reality. This means that, even though it’s not real-life, our body will still release a stress response. If you are already stressed, this only adds to the pressure you are already feeling.
Try to avoid reading or watching anything emotive particularly before going to bed.
10. Choose Who You Talk To
Avoid people who you know are ‘drama queens’, those who always ask favours of you, and those who are constantly negative.
When you are stressed, you need to protect the energy that you have, and build more. These types of people will only drain your precious reserves.
11. Breathe and Count to 10 Before Reacting
Breathing and counting slowly before you react to any stressful situation, will help you to regain your composure, keep your mind clear and prevent you from initially over-reacting.
It will help stop the feeling of panic and loss of control, and also help prevent raised blood pressure.
Try to relax your shoulders down each time you breathe out.
12. Get Plenty of Fresh Air and Sunlight Each Day
Being outside helps to improve your mood, particularly if it is sunny. We need sunlight to make vitamin D3 in our body. This vitamin is essential for things such as skin, bone and cardiovascular health. It can also help improve your mood.
Even if it is not so nice outside, try to spend some time in the fresh air. UV rays travel through clouds, so you can still benefit from the sun. (Remember to wear sunscreen/cover up on clear days to prevent sunburn).
Address Your Stress Today
So there you have it. 12 simple tasks you can incorporate into your day to help keep your stress levels to a minimum and stop them from spiralling out of control.