Seven Simple Stress Management Activities
Orange County Christian Counseling
Studies show that people who have a regular time to pray and meet with God, as well as those who exercise and have times of quiet can react better to difficult challenges in their lives. While this makes sense, it will be your own experience and desire to live in a more balanced way that will lead you to proactively erect barriers in your life against stress and, when it does get through, to deal with it healthily.
Enjoy active habits and hobbies for stress management.
Did you know that people who regularly exercise benefit from improved moods? Active leisure activities help us to relax and improve our self-confidence while assisting to lower our feelings of anxiety and depression.
Our sleep is often vastly improved when we exercise and because this powerful stress-reducing process is often interrupted by tension and worries, exercise is a way to regain healthy sleeping habits and enjoy the benefits of being well-rested.
Besides the physical and mental benefits of leisure activities, they are also a lot of fun. It is important to take part in activities that you enjoy, and leisure is one way to do this.
Positive self-talk is powerful for stress management.
For decades science has confirmed that the way you speak to yourself, even in the privacy of your mind, has a significant impact on every area of your life. If you are harsh with yourself, full of criticism, catastrophizing events, or expressing self-doubt at every turn, you hamstring yourself and your development.
Reinforcing your doubts by repeatedly telling yourself, “This is just too difficult”, “If I was smarter, I would be able to succeed”, or “There is no hope for me” can handcuff your mind and make you hopeless.
Instead of increasing your stress with harsh self-talk, begin to learn how to be more realistic and compassionate to yourself. When you realize that you are calling yourself names or labeling yourself, reply with a kinder tone.
Contradict the things that are not true and speak hope to yourself. The childhood lesson of Thomas the Tank Engine, who thought he could and so succeeded, is a vivid example of what positive self-talk can do for every area of our life.
You will find that with practice positive self-talk is one of the most effective stress management activities.
Benefit of a balanced diet.
Emotional eating, or when you reach for comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar, does provide a brief sense of respite and serves as a pick-me-up. But this is like spending on your credit card – you have to pay back the unwise and detrimental health impact with interest.
Refined carbohydrates -think cookies, potato chips, croissants, and similar foods – cause your blood sugar levels to rise dramatically, but what comes up must come down and on the down, you will likely experience even more stress and anxiety.
A healthy diet helps your body and mind to face down and sustainably deal with stress as your mood is regulated, your energy levels are more consistent, and you take charge of your diet and its effect on the stress that you and your family experience.
Getting your heart pumping.
Humans are complex; we are spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. And just as our diet affects our heart and mind, so does physical activity.
The benefits of keeping your heart rate beating at an elevated level for at least 20 minutes each day include reducing the stress you feel and improving your mental health. It does not matter how you increase your heart rate.
Running around the neighborhood, exercising with a class or swimming are common ways to keep physically fit. Remember there are many ways to increase your heart rate, such as pushups or burpees before getting into the shower each evening.
To supersize the effect that exercise possesses to reduce your stress, look to perform it in nature. This can be a hike or trail run, a walk, or a home workout in a nature area near your home. Through the years, various studies have verified what our bodies and minds have naturally recognized: being immersed in the beauty of nature is refreshing.
During a 2018 study where participants exercised in wilderness areas, municipal city parks, and indoor training facilities, like gyms, researchers found that by visiting green spaces and being exposed to natural environments study participants reported significantly lower physical and psychological stress levels than those who visited more urbanized outdoor settings or indoor exercise facilities.
Practice an attitude of gratitude to promote stress management.
We know the meaning of gratitude as being thankful and being ready to show appreciation to others and return kindness, but did you know that by practicing it regularly, so regularly jotting down and making a note of big and small things that we are grateful for, gives our minds a healthier perspective to handle stress?
Researchers’ findings suggest that by practicing gratitude your emotional well-being is improved and it has been linked to fewer signs of heart disease.
As a person prioritizes time to feel gratitude, their emotional well-being improves, and this helps them to cope with stress. While it is only a few years old, research suggests that a daily practice of gratitude could affect the body, too. For example, one study found that gratitude was linked to fewer signs of heart disease.
Interestingly it does not matter what you feel grateful for – it could be for the kindness of a stranger during an emergency, another motorist being polite during your commute, or perhaps your first coffee of the day. As you reflect on this blessing, minimize the negative things in your life at that moment and dwell on the positive feelings gratitude brings, and simply enjoy it.
As you daily reflect on what you are grateful for, your mind actively seeks these out and increases your positive emotions. Further effects of developing an attitude of gratitude are that you are more able to remember the various resources you have to cope with stress.
Studies find that grateful people enjoy better mental health, reduced stress, and increased quality of life this brings.
Removing the stress-causing problem.
While much advice on stress management activities focuses on a person’s emotions, another method is to change the environment. Some refer to this as problem-focused coping, and this entails taking the necessary steps to ensure that the thing causing you stress is removed from your life.
In emotion-focused coping, you look at ways how you can modify how you feel about the thing causing you stress.
Building a solid support network.
Many things in life are better shared. Stress management activities are certainly one of these. Do not be shy as you reach out to your existing network to strengthen it. It may be that being honest with a family member or friend may build the relationship and give you the social support you require in this situation, and allow you to return the favor at another time.
There are formal ways to do this, such as by joining an organization, attending a support group for people going through similar experiences or even getting professional help if you do not have supportive people in your life.
Christian counseling to help with stress management.
If you’re looking for additional help with coping mechanisms for stress, and to learn how to incorporate stress management activities into your daily habits, browse our online counselor directory or contact our office to schedule an appointment. We would be honored to walk with you on this journey toward enhanced well-being and a more positive approach to life’s challenges.
“Surfer”, Courtesy of Frank van Hulst, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Jog”, Courtesy of Huckster, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Watermelon Smile”, Courtesy of Caju Gomes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading”, Courtesy of Toa Heftiba, Unsplash.com, CC0 License