We all live stressful lives these days, and we need steps to manage it. We can’t wish it away. So in this article, we show you six ways to combat stress and how to convert them into lifelong habits that will keep your heart and mind happy.
Stress is part and parcel of daily modern life. If you’re wondering why people of previous generations did not go through stress, they most likely did, but mental health studies were not so advanced back then as they are now, so there was much less awareness among general public about stress and its side effects.
The same is true of more serious illnesses such as depression and anxiety, which are now treated with more empathy and seriousness than they used to be before. Where a depressed person in a previous generation would have been called lazy or asocial, now more people are coming forward with correct appraisals, and are therefore being treated better.
Here are six ways you can manage stress in your daily life.
- Parenting Classes: Whether you’re a parent or not, taking a parenting class will help increase empathy levels, and will reduce stress. The act of giving birth to and raising a child forces you to put your child’s life before yours and can act as a perspective setter. While not all of us can become parents just for the sake of combating stress, a parenting class is a good simulation of the process and can help you bring down those stress levels.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): For people with depression, anxiety, and other woes, cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to replace self-destructive habits and negative thinking with improved coping skills. This is not dependent on medication but seeks to instill in the patient good, consistent habits. For instance, a sleep study in which older people with insomnia were randomly assigned CBT – and were given instructions to set right a few habits in their lives – they reported less pain and a better quality of sleep than the control group.
- Yoga and tai chi: these practices, which focus attention on posture, positive thoughts, and breathing, can unwind stress at both clinical and molecular levels. Researchers in Germany scanned 44 trials in which healthy people were randomly assigned to do yoga or not and found the practice knocked nearly 6 points off their top blood pressure number. In breast cancer survivors, three months of tai chi reduced the inflammatory agents IL-6 and TNF-alpha. These ancient Eastern practices – yoga originating in India and tai chi in China – can make you sleep that much easier if you make a habit out of them.
- Real-time monitoring: When you monitor your stress levels – especially the heart rate – multiple times a day, it is more likely that you will do something about it. Whenever you see that your heart rate has gone up, you take some time out to cool it off. Just use a heart rate monitor app on your smartphone and you’re good to go for this one. Numerous studies have shown that people who monitor their stress levels on a real-time basis are better equipped to deal with their stress.
- Have pets: There is nothing that compares to the unconditional love of a pet. Cats are good, but dogs are better at this. A cat may ignore you and treat you like furniture once it’s been fed and cuddled, but a dog will love you no matter what and will slobber you with all that love. It’s impossible to be stressful when being licked enthusiastically by a dog.
- Meditate: Meditation is the act of emptying your mind of thoughts and focusing on simple things, like the sound of water, or the smell of freshly cut grass. Performing a solitary creative art – like painting and writing – is often termed to be meditative. Include this into your daily life for an hour and see your stress levels recede.