Best Way To Relieve Stress Starts With Good Habits
Strive To Relieve Stress Your Daily Routine
Stress is something we all have to deal with. It’s safe to say that life can thrust us into circumstances that may fall anywhere on a spectrum of what each person defines as stressful for themselves. Stress can refer to one’s psychological understanding of pressure. It can also refer to the body’s response to that pressure which, in turn, can affect your mental, emotional, and physical wellness. This is where stress relief management comes in. There are tons of techniques that may help you to control the intensity of your response to stress, while also promoting general well-being.
There are many psychological benefits to managing stress – including experiencing less stress, of course – like:
- Increased positive self-esteem
- Reduction in anxiety levels and risk of depression
- Improved coping skills
- Greater general optimism
- Improved concentration
And physiological benefits like:
- Reduction in high blood pressure levels
- Reduction in heart attack and stroke risk
- A significant boost to the immune system
- Increased energy levels and Improved sleep patterns
- Reduction in stress hormone levels
Stress And Habits: A Formidable Pair
When you’re stressed out, your senses usually feel a bit hazy because of the overload your body is experiencing. This has the potential to make you feel easily exhausted and agitated, which of course can lead to the experience of more intense negative stress responses. For many of us, we “combat” that cycle with things we find relaxing/calming, which may coincidentally include harmful things like binge-eating and regular bouts of procrastination.
Habits are recurrent, often unconscious patterns of behavior that are acquired through frequent repetition. These sort of habits (like binge eating, procrastination, nail-biting, etc) may actually be a trigger for some of our most common stress-related responses. Our stress is not only reacting to the initial problem but also to the new problem that our bad habits have created, e.g. running out of time to do something, weight gain, low metabolism.
Our habits allow our minds a break, using the least amount of focus necessary to complete a task, and there lies the reason we need to consider being deliberate about incorporating good habits to fall back on that will perpetuate more balance than chaos. Developing good habits can help us with our self-control which can gradually lead us to improve our quality of life.
Habits remain even, and especially, when we’re tired and happen indeliberately. So we should ask ourselves:
How Can You Form Good, Healthy, Productive Habits?
I believe the easiest answer to that is starting small. Make the new habits easy to do, easy to repeat and integrate into your daily routine. From there, we can allow the new habits to develop the ability to help ease the experience of some stressful times, gradually alleviating them altogether.
In my case, there were a lot of little things I would do that would end up being a waste of time, making me feel much less productive and super guilty afterward. Making the effort to change minute things really made the difference. In the mornings, I usually stayed in bed (way too long) surfing through Twitter and Instagram, attempting to keep up with the wave of events and moments I may have missed out on while sleeping. Most times by the end, I would feel even more exhausted from staring at a screen for so long, almost negating my night’s rest. Now, I get up, make my bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, and check-in on the items on my to-do list. I haven’t fully given up checking on social media in the morning, but I now prioritize checking my email first, which gives me some sense of responsibility and motivates me to get my day started.
At nights, I usually watch YouTube videos mindlessly, where 11 p.m. quickly becomes 4 a.m. (I’m not even kidding). These days, I end my days with an audiobook or one of my favorite podcasts. That way I feel a calm sense of satisfaction, and more relaxed because I’m not glued to a bright phone screen. Before I know it, I’m asleep and feeling pretty great the next morning. Good habits like these help me to spend my time wisely, which in turn eliminates the guilt I usually feel for not getting things done. This then makes me less stressed, which is great for overall daily satisfaction.
Most of this probably looks easier said than done. If it was this easy, none of us would have bad habits in the first place. Luckily, there’s a sort of formula, to get you started.
Forming Habits To Relieve Stress (Good ones, of course)
If/Reminder: When you think about forming habits that stick, consider having a cue. A lot of habits are triggered because of specific cues. E.g. “If it’s a Saturday morning, then I will do 15 minutes of yoga”. Setting environmental cues to trigger habits is important. This is the reminder. I’m sure it may seem easier to just start – using self-control and willpower but that may prove harder than you think. With a reminder, the “if” cue, you’re always aware of the new habit you’re trying to incorporate and more likely to do it instead of trying to remember using sheer will. Set up reminders and link new habits to existing behavior to accomplish that smooth transition without the hassle of creating a whole new routine.
Then/Routine: This is the habit itself. This is the new action you’ve decided to add to your life, for a less stressful existence. There a significant amount of options for relieving stress. Here are a few:
- Regular exercise
Becoming more physically active can provide you with a great way of relieving yourself from frustration and stress. It can also improve your mood, make you resilient to future stress, improve longevity and quality of life, and keep you calm by keeping negative thoughts at bay.
- Write it all down
This helps as a form of self-exploration. Keeping a journal will allow you to sort through your thoughts and feelings, thus giving you more insight and feedback on daily happenings and problems in your life. If writing freely scares you a bit, a guided approach may be more helpful – like using the Witted Roots Rooted Reflections Journal that provides prompts and helps to rediscover yourself while keeping you grounded in the person you already are.
- Increase the Quality of Your Sleep
We all tend to underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep. After long days – after school or work – our body needs time to rest/recharge. A lack of sleep can cause significant changes like mood swings, unhealthy eating to counter the exhaustion and lead to even more stress. Move away from your phone, relax, and make the quality of sleep help you to optimize your mind and body.
- Do Something That Makes You Happy
Lifting your mood can create a domino effect on your positivity. By regularly doing something that makes you happy, your positivity alleviates stress and allows you to stay more motivated. Like stress, it creates a cycle. When you stay positive, you do positive and it makes you feel even more positive than before. Awesome, right?
When/Reward: When you’ve achieved this task, a reward system allows you to associate the habit with good things and makes you feel more incentivized to continue. The reward doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible, it could be kind of like a mental pat on the back so that you have good feelings whenever the reminder triggers the habit.
One Less Thing To Stress About
Incorporating this short-term dedication and practice will allow you to enjoy the long-term benefits. Allow yourself to become one step closer to emotional and mental wellness. Think of these good habits as a personal investment. They should not be the only way of relieving your stress but help you to become a better version of yourself – which is one less thing to stress about.
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