10 ways to de-stress
Updated: Oct 22, 2018
Surviving day to day life in the 21st Century
In todays overstimulated world, it is often difficult to disconnect and focus on our own mental health. With the combined pressures of work, relationships, family, finances and social commitments the majority of people can identify as stressed at one time or another.
According to Bloomberg (2017) South Africa is the 2nd most stressed country in the world.
Stress can be a valuable asset in providing motivation and increasing productivity. However, long term stress can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. As such, finding healthy and adaptive ways to de-stress are essential for long term wellness in the 21st century. Stress management is unique to each person, and what works for one person may not work for the other. Here are 10 suggestions that may be effective for you.
1. Identify your stress triggers
Before trying to decide how to de-stress, it is important to find out what triggers our stress responses in the first place. Neurobiologicaly, a stress response is triggered in the brain to prepare the body to fight-flight-freeze in reaction to an imminent threat. Identifying these perceived and real threats can help to anticipate and react to these threats in a more effective way.
2. Get some exercise (if possible outdoors)
Exercise promotes the production of the bodies natural "feel good" chemicals or endorphins. These chemicals can counteract the effects of stress on the body. Try scheduling in 15-30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise daily.
3. Eat well
Your body is only as healthy as the fuel you put into it. Maintaining a healthy and balanced die is not only essential for stress management but has been shown to assist in managing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
4. Get enough (quality) sleep
Sleep provides an opportunity for your body to restore immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. These systems are essential for managing your mood and cognition, which assists in managing life's challenges effectively. It is recommended that you get 6-8 hours of quality sleep in a cool, dark, quiet place.
5. Set goals
Setting goals help manage our expectations on ourselves and others. Effective goals are SMART goals.
- Time Bound
In a world that is overly connected, it is easy to become disconnected. Disconnected from our families, friends, emotions, and body. Taking some time every day to disconnect can help us refocus and reconnect to what matters in life.
7. Get crafty
If you hear a voice within you say "you can not paint", then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced Vincent van Gogh
Creativity provides not only an opportunity to de-stress but also provides a space for self-expression. Creativity can take on a variety of forms, so take the time to explore what works for you.
As with exercise, laughter triggers the release of "feel good" chemicals in your brain. These feel good chemical help create a positive state of mind which boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
9. Take a mini vacation
Taking long periods of time off in a busy schedule often seems unrealistic and unmanageable. If you only have a few hours, afternoon or weekend take the time to explore the area around you. There are many surprising little treasures just around the corner from your front door.
10. Make a change
Sometimes, the only way to destress is to remove ourselves from the environment which is making us stressed to start with. Decisions to make a change should not be based on impulses or heightened emotional states, but should be done thoughtfully taking into account multiple sources of information and the consequences of the decision.