8 BOSS Ways to Manage Stress

I was having a recent conversation with my best friend Jenna the other day and asked her what she thought I should blog about next. She basically screamed STRESSSSS! (I think she was having a stressful week…). I had been meaning to write about this topic for a while, so Jenna just got me to speed it up. So why write about stress?

Stress is your body’s reponse to something it perceives as being a threat. When a threat is perceived, this stress response, which is called the fight or flight response and is a response from your body’s autonomic nervouse system, kicks in and causes the heart rate to quicken, blood pressure to rise, blood to be redirected from the internal organs to the muscles and a number of hormones to be circulated such as adrenaline and cortisol. When this threat is transient or short lasting, this reponse is actually a good thing and helps the body effectively defend itself from the threat (think purse snatcher or giving a presentation). However, if the threat does not go away (think looming deadlines at school or work, relationship stress, financial strain etc), this reponse remains active (albeit at a lower level), causing the body to remain in a state of disequilibrium. Cortisol is the main stress hormone and its prolonged circulation in the body can lead to decreases in the immune system, decreased bone formation, blood sugar imbalances, and increases in blood pressure. None of which are good for you.

So what can we do to try and manage stress and try to get our bodies out of this altered state?

1. Sleep:

Getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night is key for managing stress. Sleep is the body’s way of resetting and recovering. Sleep deprivation comes with a whole list of adverse effects on the body that only compound the effects of chronic stress. For tips on sleep better, click here!

2. Write

Keep a to do list, write down the things that stress you out, or just start a journal. If something is keeping you from falling asleep, keep a notepad next to your bed and jot down all the thoughts that are keeping you awake and tend to them tomorrow.

3. Exercise

Movement is medicine. Exercise helps to bring balance and equilibrium to the body and is essential to healthy living. Whether its a full work out at the gym or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, anything is better than nothing. 30 minutes per day is ideal.

4. Take time for you

Taking time for yourself everyday is key to revitalizing yourself. This is the time when you can do anything you enjoy doing and break free from responsiblities, allowing the body and mind to reset and unwind.

5. Time Management

Learning to manage time effectively is easier said than done.  A large component of it is learning to say no to tasks that you know will not be done in a given amount of time. Whether these tasks are social or work related, finding a reasonable balance is key. Politely turning someone down for coffee shouldn’t offend anyone, if they don’t understand then maybe they aren’t worth going for coffee with anyways.

6.  Avoid Distrctions

Working in a busy environment with loud noises, flashing screens and lots of people can be extremely distracting and decrease productivity, contributing to higher stress levels. Turning off the TV, turning your cell phone ringer off and turning down the volume can help you focus on the task at hand. Avoiding distractions also means avoiding people who stress you out. If you are studying for an exam and a friend who you know is a Nervous Nelly about exams wants to study with you, politely declining may be better for your own mental health than studying with said friend and becoming a Nervous Nelly yourself.

7. Adjust Standards

Perfection is not always a reasonable goal. Learning to let go of things you cannot change will help change perspectives and prevent unecessary stress over things beyond your control

8. Eat Well

A well nourished body is a body that can cope much better with stress. Eating healthy foods throughout the day and keeping hydrated are very important for effective stress management.

We cannot always change what is stressing us out, but we can change how we respond to stress. Being mindful, positive and appreciative of what we have are key to having a more positive attitude toward stress.