3 Easy Ways To Relieve Stress And What You’re Doing Wrong
Let’s face it, if you’re alive, then you’ve experienced stress in the past, or you might be experiencing stress while you’re reading this. Although all of us experience stress sooner or later, it’s important to know that it’s possible to find relief. You must manage your stress before your stress manages you. However, as with anything in life, there are good ways of coping and bad ways of coping.
Many people take the easy way out and go for the quick fix method of dealing with their stress – WRONG! Going for the quick fix is only gonna cause you more trouble later down the road. Instead consider managing your stress proactively by engaging in health stress management rituals.
In this post, first I’m going to talk about the types of quick fixes that you should avoid and then I’ll talk about 3 easy ways you can proactively find relief from stress in the comfort of your own home.
Don’t Do This! Unhealthy Stress Management Methods
Before we start looking at the healthy ways that you can relieve your stress while at home, I think that you should be first be aware of habits to avoid when trying to cope with stress. While these habits might seem like they’re helping, they’re really harming you in the long run because they increase your overall stress by taking a toll on your body and mind. Try to avoid these unhealthy coping mechanisms:
Drinking Excessive Amounts Of Alcohol
Now you may enjoy an adult beverage or two from time to time which is perfectly fine. It can help you feel like its “calming your nerves,” but when you find yourself regularly drinking to excess when you’ve had a hard day that it’s a problem.
There’s an article by livescience that talks about a study that looked at the effects of alcohol on individuals who’ve been stressed. It also goes into the dangers of becoming dependent on alcohol for stress management – the more you depend on that drink to help you manage your stress, you more you need to depend on that drink to manage your stress. Which ultimately increases your stress as you need to drink more to get those initial feelings of relaxation.
WebMD has a quick self-test that you can take to determine if you have an issue with alcohol. It asks questions such as:
"Have you had to drink more than you once did to get the same effects?"
"Have you had times when you drank more or for longer than you meant to?"
It’s a quick way to see if you might have a problem with alcohol that will lead to you having more overall stress.
Many people start smoking because they view it as glamorous when they’re younger and continue smoking as a stress reliever as they get older. However, although it may feel as if smoking helps you to relieve stress, in reality; smoking leads to a whole host of complications on both your physical and mental health.
Physically, smoking can lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke. According to NIH, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. While mentally, anytime you’re addicted to something it automatically adds another layer of stress to your life. There have been studies that show that smokers in fact have increased stress over nonsmokers. Not to mention the cost!
Binge Eating Junk Food
Most of us have been there (I know I have!) There are chips, cakes, cookies, candy or whatever your choice of junk food staring you in the face. So, you eat one, which turns into two, which turns into too many to count.
As with most things that make you feel good momentarily, binge eating junk food will eventually catch up with you. In the short run/term you may feel sluggish, bloated or down on yourself for eating in a way that’s not sustainable and doesn’t support your self-care. In the long run/term, you may encounter health problems such as weight gain, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
According to this article on Science Daily there have been studies which have shown that junk food can also contribute to poor mental health. Not the least of which would be regret or shame at having “pigged out.”
When it all gets to be too much, sometimes it feels like it may be easier if you just ignore what’s going on and the work that needs to be done.
For many people this shows up as procrastination. As one who has procrastinated a time or two, putting off until tomorrow what you can do today more often than not has negative repercussions.
For instance, if you’re a student putting off completing your mid-term paper, it might be okay for now, but in the long run, you’re setting yourself up for one or more overnighters, a paper that may or may not get done on time and more stress in your life overall.
Avoiding responsibilities increases stress levels as the pressure of responsibility hangs over the person’s head.
Instead, consider to-do lists, goal setting or other productivity techniques to help you overcome the reluctance.
Sleeping Too Much Or Not Enough
Having a major change in your sleeping patterns can be a sign of depression and can also be a sign that you’re overly stressed. Ruminating about your problems – whether it’s money issues, relationship issues – any issues at all can keep you up all night worrying – which stresses you out more and leads to a never ending cycle.
Which is why it’s important to make time for self-care. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, consider creating a bedtime ritual and making your bedroom into your sanctuary. If you’re sleeping too much also known as hypersomnia, consider – talking to your doctor, limiting alcohol and creating a bedtime ritual.
Turning To Drugs Or Pills
Using pills or other drugs to relieve your stress puts you down a similar path as the person who uses alcohol for stress management. Anytime you use substances in a way they’re not intended, you increase the chance that you will become dependent on the substance which generally magnifies the problem that originally stressed you out and adds more problems as well.
You should only take pills or other substances under the care of a trained and licensed medical professional.
Keeping Busy To Avoid Your Problems
File keeping busy under the opposite of avoiding responsibilities. Oftentimes people throw themselves into their work to avoid problems at home. Keeping busy has the same effect of being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand. It doesn’t make the stressor go away and more than likely will make it worse.
If you are going to keep busy with work projects, make sure that you’re still taking steps to be proactive in resolving whatever issues are the source of your stress.
Now that we’ve talked about the things that you shouldn’t do for stress management, let’s talk about what you should for self-care. And these 3 things are so easy you can do them in the comfort of your own home.
Move That Body!
Stress effects the body and the mind so it’s important to engage in both physical and mental activities to manage your stress.
Exercise keeps your mind occupied, releases endorphins and serotonin in your brain (the happy chemicals 😊) and can be a healthy way to temporarily distract yourself from your problems while you get fit at the same time.
Even if you’re not used to working out a lot, there are plenty of ways to ease into a new workout routine. If you have access to a swimming pool, try swimming just a few laps at a time, increasing the amount every day. Similarly you can do one of my favorite activities – walk – take a stroll around your neighborhood, or you can dance in your living room or use a website like Darebee where you can find easy exercise routines that don’t require equipment.
While it might be a bit difficult at first, meditation gets easier over time if you stick with it. You have to commit to making time to practice, but if you keep going, you’ll get better at it and will find that it’s really helpful.
When I first started to meditate, after a few minutes I’d have to stop because I couldn’t concentrate and found it hard to take my focus off all the random thoughts swirling around in my head. But I kept going - one minute at a time. Eventually, I was able to do five, then 10, then 20 minutes.
Meditation not only helps to relieve stress, but can help with anxiety, depression, and other problems you be might experiencing in your life.
If you’re a newcomer to meditation, start the easy way with visualization. Set a timer and sit in a quiet room with your body relaxed and your eyes closed. Just spend a few minutes trying to visualize something that calms you, such as white puffy clouds or waves lapping along the beach. All you think about is that scene and nothing else for those few minutes. If you find your attention wandering, put it back on whatever you’re visualizing.
Another easy way to dip your toe into the meditation pool is by trying guided meditation. There are plenty of apps such as 5 minute escapes that will take you away to another place in time by describing a peaceful scenario while set to tranquil music.
Take A Bath With Essential Oils
Baths can be quite relaxing, adding certain essential oils can be very beneficial and bump up your relaxation a notch. Lavender is one of the best known oils for relaxation and stress relief. Also helpful are chamomile and rose.
When using essential oils, safety is a must as some oils might be harmful if applied directly to skin. A great way to use essential oils is to put a few drops into a carrier oil such as coconut, olive or jojoba. Then add both oils to some bath salts like Dead Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt. You can also try store brought bath bombs or bubble bath that use essential oils for the same effect.
So there you have it! A whole list of ways you may be managing your stress that’s wrong and 3 easy ways to manager your stress that’s right.
What healthy way to relieve stress are you going to try at home? Let me know in the comments.
Bath Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In