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10 stress management strategies to improve your well-being
Practical tips for reducing stress and enhancing your quality of life
Some stress in your life might be normal. But dealing with too much on a regular basis can significantly affect your mental and physical health.
That’s why it’s crucial to have several stress management strategies at your disposal. We’ve got you covered with ten ways to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
In this article:
Health benefits of implementing a stress management strategy
Long-term exposure to stress hormones can begin disrupting almost all of your body’s natural processes, increasing your risk of anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more.
Stress management activities can help. Being able to deal with stress and even reduce it comes with many benefits, including:
- Improved mood and mental health
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Less muscle tension
- Improved sleep quality
10 effective ways to manage stress
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are numerous coping skills for stress. You might find that implementing multiple stress management strategies provides the best results for improving your well-being.
Engage in regular physical activity and exercise
Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves your heart health, strengthens your muscles and bones, and reduces your risk of developing various diseases. It can also boost your mental health and help you combat stress.
When you’re in the throes of a stressful situation, one of the last things you might feel like doing is being active. However, exercise is a huge stress reliever. It triggers the release of endorphins.
These “feel good” neurotransmitters can help boost your mood, lower stress, and promote a general sense of well-being. Getting a workout in gives you something else to focus on, distracting you from your worries.
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or participate in intense physical activity to experience the stress-relieving benefits of movement. Simple things like going for a walk outside, playing with your kids, or dancing to your favorite tunes can all help.
You might also find a fitness app helpful. For instance, Aaptiv offers access to different types of workouts and can suggest programs you’ll enjoy based on your unique needs and goals. (And eligible Haven Term policyholders enjoy a no-cost subscription through the Haven Life Plus bonus rider.)
Implement breathing and relaxation techniques into your routine
Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques are among the best-known stress coping mechanisms. These strategies can help calm your mind and body by activating your natural relaxation response and combating the negative effects of stress.
There are many different techniques to choose from, including:
- Deep breathing
- Belly breathing
- Pursed lip breathing
- Lion’s breath
- Mindfulness meditation
- Guided imagery
- Progressive muscle relaxation
One of the great things about deep breathing and relaxation techniques is that you can do them anywhere. They offer relatively quick stress relief, too. Instead of focusing on the source of stress, you focus on things you can control.
Try a few different strategies to see which ones you like best. Daily practice for around 10 to 20 minutes per day will help you perfect your technique and get the most out of your exercises.
Establish a consistent sleep routine
Many factors can impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. They include things like inconsistent bedtimes, blue light exposure from your TV, computer, or phone, and eating too close to bedtime (or going to bed hungry). Reducing barriers to sleep is important, as poor sleep can affect your quality of life and increase stress.
To promote better sleep, establish and stick to a bedtime routine. First, pick a time you want to go to bed. Then, begin your sleep routine well before your chosen bedtime.
If necessary, set an alarm so you’re reminded to begin winding down. Some things to consider incorporating into your routine include:
- Putting away all electronic devices
- Taking a warm bath
- Listening to calming music
- Dimming the lights
Once you establish your bedtime routine, stick to it. Eventually, you’ll train your brain to start feeling tired around the time you want to go to bed. This will help you get better quality sleep.
Stay positive by practicing positive self-talk
Let’s be real: Whether it’s in our heads or out loud, we all talk to ourselves from time to time. And how you speak to and about yourself can affect your mental health and stress levels.
Transform your self-talk by trading negative statements to positive ones. Here are a few examples:
- “This is impossible” or “I’ll never get this done” can become “I’ve got this.”
- “I’m so dumb” or “I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake” can turn into “We all make mistakes. I can fix this.”
- “I hate when this happens” can become “I know how to manage this situation.”
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. It can help you manage your emotions better and take positive actions to improve your state of mind. And while positive self-talk does take some getting used to, it gets easier with practice.
Engage in leisure activities and hobbies you enjoy
While you might have a lot of demands in your life, you shouldn’t neglect your needs and desires. Doing so can lead to feeling overwhelmed and increase your stress level.
It might feel selfish to carve time out of your daily routine for the things you love, but taking care of yourself is crucial. Participating in activities and hobbies that you enjoy can promote relaxation and improve your mood. What’s more, you’ll be better equipped to tackle everything else you need to do. If it helps, schedule time for leisure in your calendar just like you would an appointment.
Maintain a balanced and healthy diet with nutritious foods
What you eat can play a role in your ability to cope with stress. A diet full of high-fat, high-sugar foods, and refined carbs — in other words, junk food — can make you more reactive.
Although they’re tempting and might provide temporary relief when you feel a stress response come on, these foods cause blood sugar spikes followed by crashes. The constant up and down can lead to feelings of stress — the same ones you might have been trying to avoid by eating comfort food in the first place.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is vital. Nutritious foods can help boost your immune system, reduce your blood pressure, and level your mood. These benefits make it easier to combat the effects of stress and manage it more effectively.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Many people reach for caffeine when they need a quick energy boost to power through a tough project or situation. Likewise, they might drink a glass of wine or beer to unwind after a long, stressful day. Although these types of drinks might provide short-term comfort, the long-term effects are more harmful.
Caffeine and alcohol affect stress and your ability to manage it in a couple of ways. First, long-term use of both caffeine and alcohol can increase cortisol production, which is the main hormone involved in stress, according to the National Institutes of Health. Second, they can impact your ability to sleep. While reducing your consumption of these substances can help your stress level significantly, consider cutting them out altogether.
Speak with a health professional
You don’t have to manage your chronic stress alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope, a psychologist or other mental health professional can help. Trained, highly experienced mental health care providers can work with you to figure out the source of your stress and offer additional tips for lowering it. With the help of a trusted third party, you can become better equipped to manage stressful events when they arise.
Incorporate laughter and humor into your life
Ever heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”? Well, it might not fix everything, but it can assist with stress management.
Laughter increases your oxygen intake and triggers the release of endorphins. In the long run, laughing can boost your immune system and improve your mood. These benefits can help you combat the effects of stress and make coping with it easier.
So go ahead and tell jokes or exchange humorous stories with friends. Visit a comedy club. Put on a funny movie or show. You might notice that you feel a bit better after a few laughs.
Set healthy boundaries and learn to say no
Some stressors are within your control. One of the most common is taking on too much at once. Putting too much on your plate leaves little time to get anything done and greatly reduces (if not eliminates) your ability to care for yourself. Your risks of overwhelm and burnout increase significantly.
You might feel as though you will disappoint people, but setting healthy boundaries with others is crucial for reducing stress. Be selective about the tasks and activities you take on. Learn to say no. Your well-being will thank you.
Peace of mind + life insurance = stress relief
Finding the best ways to manage stress might take some experimentation. However, taking the time to learn what works best for you can go a long way in helping improve your overall well-being.
One thing that can help: The peace of mind that comes with getting a term life insurance policy. That’s because coverage means helping financially protect your family in case the worst should happen. Learn more by getting a free online life insurance quote today.
Oh, and life insurance isn’t just for those you might one day leave behind. It’s also for you, while you’re still alive. That’s because eligible Haven Term policyholders can enjoy Haven Life Plus, a bonus rider for eligible Haven Life Term policyholders, which includes a no-cost subscription to the fitness app Aaptiv, not to mention a host of other no- and low-cost services aimed at making life less hard.
About Jessica MooreRead more by Jessica Moore
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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