If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably experiencing some level of stress in your life—may be a little or may be a lot! Perhaps you feel on edge but don’t even know why — exploring what stress is and what stress management tips you can use to mitigate your feelings can help you to understand the feelings you are having.
Understanding Stress & Stress-Free Living
You might be familiar with the accelerated pulse, tense muscles, and feeling of pressure, but what exactly is “stress,” and is stress-free living something that we should all be aiming for?
Stress is actually a natural burst of energy in the body that directs our efforts and helps us survive. When our hunter-gatherer ancestors were starting their work for the day, they needed a certain amount of stress to motivate them to keep going until they found enough food to eat. If a predator came along, stress helped them to escape quickly and return to safety.
When Stress Turns Bad
The problem with stress—and the reason so many are seeking stress management tips—is when this heightened state is prolonged or unfounded. For example, if you had to keep running from a lion for the entire day, you’d probably get worn out, right? Or if you constantly thought a lion was chasing you but there was actually nothing there, you’d be stressing yourself out over and over again with no productive result.
That’s a bit like what’s happening today. Constant pressure from work, financial instability and rising house prices, and the looming threats of terrorism and environmental collapse have us worrying for weeks and months on end and there’s no quick resolution in sight. Toxic relationships can also provoke feelings of emotional stress over long periods of time. Resolving the tension in these relationships is one of the first steps towards successful, stress-free living.
How Long-Term Stress can Affect our Health
Aside from making it hard to focus and enjoy the moment, long-term stress has real impacts on our bodies, including:
- Lowered immunity
- Impaired concentration
- Physical aches and pains
- Autoimmune disease
- Irritability and a short fuse
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble sleeping or staying awake
Ok, so now we know that stress is something we really want to reduce, let’s look at some stress management tips to help us work towards fruitful, holistic stress-free living.
1. Simplify Your Life
If you’re feeling stressed more often than not, then it’s probably time to lighten the load. That is the first of our stress management tips. School, work, and chores will most likely need to stay, but some of the non-essentials might need to go.
Think about your extracurriculars and groups you’re involved with. Which ones bring you the most joy? If you’re doing a whole lot of community or volunteer work or doing favors for people all the time, ask yourself “why?” If these activities aren’t your responsibility and aren’t contributing to your wellbeing, it really is okay to say “no.” After all, if you’re not okay, then you can’t really help anyone else all that much.
That is the point of these stress management tips—to help you enjoy life and feel great again! It’s like they say on every flight: “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.” You have to feel okay in yourself before you can indulge in stress-free living and be okay with the world around you.
2. Spend More Time in Nature
The second of our stress management tips is to take a step out your front door. Really, go outside! There’s a reason that animals don’t like to be caged up, and it’s because their instincts tell them that they need to move, chase birds, sniff the flowers, and roll around in the dirt. Humans aren’t that different. Too much time bound up inside four walls, and even the most indoors-y among us are liable to start going a little crazy.
Studies show that ecotherapy (spending time in nature) can help with:
- Self-focused rumination
- Lack of inspiration
- Feeling antisocial
- Feeling disconnected
- Feeling lost in life
To enjoy the benefits of our stress management tips towards stress-free living, a half-hour walk in nature is a great start. From there, you might even go for a weekend camping trip for even more profound benefits to your mood and health.
3. Exercise Regularly
The third of our stress management tips is one that most people probably know. Regular exercise boosts your endorphins (feel-good hormones) and serves as an excellent distraction from whatever worries you. Any kind of exercise will do. It could be a dance class, a walk around the block, a kickboxing session… you name it! If you’re new to exercise, make sure that you start slow and build up your fitness level gradually to avoid overdoing it and giving up!
4. Spend Time Playing
Have you ever heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy?” The same is true for adults as it is for children. We need to play! When is the last time that you pulled out a board game, enjoyed shuffling through a deck of cards, or climbed a tree?
In fact, play can help with more than simply achieving stress-free living. Play can also:
- Improve your brain function
- Boost your creativity
- Improve your relationships
- Help you to feel young and energetic
Imagine feeling more creative and energetic at home and work. By following this stress management tip and taking time out to play, you can! Find ways to incorporate play into your life and you will soon begin to take yourself a little less seriously. Good ways to start are playing with pets, playing with children, or perhaps even hosting a games night once a month with friends or coworkers.
5. Cultivate Positivity
Stress feeds on negativity. Bad news stories, critical comments from others, or sensationalist emails warning you that “your bathrobe could be killing you” add to our stress levels and trains our brains to always think the worst. For the fifth item in our stress management tips for stress-free living, our advice is to put the brakes on the onslaught of negative news and cultivate some positivity!
You can start by “detoxing” your email, mail, and social media subscriptions and eliminating any senders that simply stress you out. You can also choose the people with whom you spend the most positive time with and focus on people who nourish you, inspire you, and help you to feel hopeful about the future.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Another powerful idea to cultivate more positivity in your life is to start a gratitude journal. Every day, write down three things for which you are grateful. It won’t be long before your thoughts and feelings take a turn for the better.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
The sixth of our stress management tips is about being kind to ourselves. Just as we are taught to be kind to others, we also need to be kind to ourselves. We often exaggerate our failings out of proportion and even blame ourselves for things that are outside of our control. Once you identify issues that are inside and outside of your control, you can start to focus on what you can do and let the rest go for more effective stress-free living.
From there, work on your self-talk and learn how to be a lot more encouraging! Just had a self-critical thought? Turn it around with an action plan: “I could do it like this next time.” Feeling down about yourself? Remind yourself of your strengths. Listen to the way you encourage others and start practicing these same phrases with yourself. You could even give yourself a positive pep talk in the mirror!
7. Begin with a Small Step
There’s nothing like taking a step and putting one of these stress management tips into practice to feel empowered again and move towards stress-free living. Break your worries and goals into small steps and act on one of them today. Not only will taking a step set you on the path to success, but feeling powerful can fight against the “I can’t do anything about it” rut that long-term stress can get us into.
Identifying an Action Point
Are you worried about finances? Sit down and make a budget that you can stick to. Worried about your health? Go for a brisk walk and have a drink of water. Worried about the environment? Go plant something in your yard or balcony, water it every day, and watch it grow. A small step can start a chain reaction, and soon, your problems might seem a lot more manageable than they did at the start.
If you are still feeling stressed after using our stress management tips, consider incorporating some naturally relaxing, natural stress relievers like kratom or other, all-natural relaxing ethnobotanicals into your daily routine. Do something about your stress today and you could soon be feeling much better!
Please note that the US FDA has not approved kratom to be sold for human consumption, sold for external use only. None of the products sold on our website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.