Stress! Just thinking about stress causes stress. You can’t get away from stress. Stress is a certainty just as death and taxes are–as the saying goes. So, anything you can do to help reduce it is good, even simple tactics done throughout the day chips away at the effects of stress and creates healthier responses.
“Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory.” Simply, how we perceive stress based on our sensitivity to it determines our body’s response.
It is how we are conditioned to respond to stress that determines how it impacts our health. To respond to stress in a healthy manner, we need to recondition our responses to it. Repetition creates new habits. Simple daily practices performed throughout the day help to create these new patterns.
You may be saying, “I am breathing.” This is true. However, we take the breath for granted. We know that we can’t live without it. And at the same time, we pretty much ignore it. When you, however, pause from what you’re doing throughout the day to notice your breath, it immediately calms you. Notice the feel of air as it moves in and out of your nostrils or watch the rise and fall of your stomach with each breath. Watching your breath for a few seconds slows the heart rate and reduces tension. To remind yourself to do this several times a day, set an alarm on your phone or put it on your calendar with a reminder.
“A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response…. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.” Think about how you feel when you laugh; it feels good, right? Good feelings impact the body in positive ways. Every day seek out at least one thing that makes you chuckle. There are many humorous videos clips on the internet. Buy a daily joke calendar or a joke book and read something from it daily.
Moving increases endorphin production (the feel-good hormones), makes the heart beat harder and releases tension in the muscles and joints. These and the other effects exercise have on the body are also stress reducers.
Movement doesn’t need to be something grand like running a mile. A walk around the outside of your office building for a few minutes can refresh you. Periodically, get up from your desk and move; stretch, bend, or shake your body. Moving for thirty seconds at a time a few times a day has compounding benefits. When you get home, instead of turning on the TV play some music and dance.
Throughout the day, check in with how you are feeling. When feelings are acknowledged, they don’t become repressed. Repressed feelings can build a stress dam that will eventually burst. It is better to deal with feelings upfront. Setting reminders is helpful for checking in because most people are not taught to pay attention to their emotions.
Say what you are grateful for throughout the day. Many people do this first thing in the morning before getting out of bed and the last thing before going to sleep. Oprah says out loud every morning that she’s grateful to be here–to be alive. Gratefulness gives you a sense of well-being, which helps to reduce stress.
How you handle stress is due to the way you are sensitized to it. One way to help create new healthy habits of reacting to stress is to do simple stress reduction techniques throughout the day.
- Huebeck, Elizabeth. Boost Your Health With a dose of Gratitude. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost#1.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
- Stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/stress.
- Stress effects on the body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx.