You’re often under stress and don’t know how to deal with it properly? Don’t worry – you are not alone. Work, family, busy schedules, exams or important sales talks are testing your stress residence day after day.
We hope that stress is not part of your everyday life, as an increased stress level can have serious long-term consequences for your health. That’s why you should always pay attention to your personal stress level and take the right measures in time to reduce stress in the long run.
In this article, we have prepared 15 useful tips for coping with stress. Before we go into these tips in detail, we’ll explain what stress is and what symptoms it causes. We have also added an extra chapter on stress at work, as many people suffer from it.
Jump ahead to any of the sections below:
- What Is Stress?
- Types of Stress
- Symptoms of Stress
- 15 Tips to Reduce Stress
- Reduce Stress at Work
What Is Stress?
Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may associate it with something negative, but it’s the result of a normal reaction of your body. Stress is what has helped our ancestors, the hunters, and gatherers, to survive hundreds and thousands of years.
Your adrenaline rushes up when you’re in a dangerous situation. Your ancestors needed a higher level of adrenaline to survive as they had to rely on their sharpened senses to hunt.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, like an important presentation to your customer, your body releases chemicals and hormones (including cortisol and adrenaline). This makes your heart beat faster and you feel energized. That being said, stress can make you more concentrated and powerful.
One possible definition of stress is:
“Stress is a reaction of the body when rapid changes occur. Thereby, stress releases chemicals and hormones. The body can react physically or psychologically to those changes.”
Typically, your body should relax after the reaction and go into an anti-stress state, which normalizes your breathing and relaxes your muscles. If your body can’t get into this state because you are under permanent stress, your health will be affected. Therefore, from a health point of view, you should take care of coping with stress regularly.
Types of Stress
As you have already read above, stress is not necessarily bad. Harvard University has published a detailed report on the different types of stress. It distinguishes between two main types of stress: positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress).
Positive stress arises in situations where you are thrilled about something. For example when you go on holiday, have your first day at work, buy a new house or relocate.
There are several advantages to positive stress: improved alertness, increased performance and there are even studies that show that the immune system is strengthened.
Good stress is characterized by:
- Short time span
- Has a motivating effect on you
- You feel positively excited
- Your focus and concentration improve
Negative stress occurs in situations where you feel bad or you feel lots of negativity. It comes along with tension. Serious events in your life, such as the end of your relationship, a death in the family or long-term unemployment leave mental traces.
These stress situations are usually associated with a certain amount of pressure that you absorb through your environment or make on yourself. You might even feel anxiety at the same time.
Bad stress is characterized by:
- Long time span (in some cases it may be short term)
- Has a disturbing effect on you
- Feels like a load
- Your focus and concentration deteriorate
Especially this stress has to be overcome since it has a negative impact on your health.
To conclude this chapter, we’ve created a table which clearly shows the differences between the different types of stress:
|Positive Stress||Negative Stress|
|Better focus||Restless, poor focus|
|A natural reaction, no harm to health||Bad for your health|
Symptoms of Stress
Both your body and mind need rest in order to recharge. However, if you put yourself in a state of permanent stress, you’ll withdraw the rest from your body which it needs so badly. Hair loss, rashes, increased liver values but also depression and even burnout (permanent mental and physical exhaustion) can be the results.
We have compiled a list of physical and psychological symptoms that occur during increased (negative) permanent stress. Take a little stress test yourself and read the symptoms carefully. Some are due to illness. However, if you feel stressed at the same time, there is a connection between stress and symptoms.
Low stress level:
- Stomach pains and Diarrhea
- Tinnitus/beeping in the ear
- Skin rash
- Tingling in the face
- Teeth grinding
- Neck pain
- Visual disturbances
- Concentration difficulties
- Anxiety states
High stress level:
- Stomach ulcer
- High blood sugar
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Hair loss
- Elevated liver values
- Elevated cholesterol level
- Potassium deficiency
- Chronic fatigue
As you can see, even with lower stress, visual disturbances, headaches or tinnitus can occur. You should always work on your stress level and try to manage and reduce stress from your life in the long run. It often makes sense to talk to your doctor as well. Especially with chronic stress, where you feel permanently stressed and your body is in a constant state of alarm.
15 Tips and Ways to Reduce Stress
The question we want to answer now is: how to reduce stress? We’ve listed and described the best tips and techniques to reduce stress (and also reduce anxiety) and to become more mindful. With these tips, you’ll bring more happiness and control into your life and learn to stay calm!
To get the most out of this chapter think about the main reason for stress in your life. It can vary from person to person. What applies to you does not necessarily apply to everyone.
This makes it easier for you to internalize in your subconscious for which situations these tips will help you in concrete terms and motivates you to apply these tips at the same time.
Meditation is probably one of the best ways to reduce and overcome stress. This relaxation practice eases the mind and does good, no matter in which form. Whether beginner or professional, with or without smoke sticks, lotus position or not: you will achieve visible results after just a few minutes.
In order to reduce stress in the long term, you should start meditating daily. If you don’t know how and where to start, have a look at our detailed meditation guide for beginners.
It is no secret that exercising is good for your health. It promotes the ability to concentrate, strengthens muscles, increases the immunity and, above all, reduces stress. Yet you don’t have to disappear at the gym for several hours every day to achieve these effects. One walk a day is enough.
By exercising physically, you boost your metabolism, which results in fewer stress hormones being released by your body. That’s why exercising is one of the best strategies to reduce stress.
Regular exercise not only reduces stress levels, but it also hardens you against further stress. You increase your natural stress resistance and achieve a better state of balance.
3. Power Naps
Power Naps are short naps that do not last longer than 10-20 minutes. They’re a great opportunity to give your head a little breather. After a Power Nap, your ability to concentrate increases, your mood improves and your stress level will be reduced. Even by closing your eyes for just a few minutes you’ll be giving your brain the chance to switch off a bit.
It’s important not to sleep longer than 20 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll enter the first deep sleep phase. If you interrupt this phase – by waking up – you’ll feel even more powerless and worn down than before.
Did you know that it’s physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you smile?
The saying “laughter is the best medicine” is not a coincidence. Laughter has been proven to help cope with stress by reducing stress hormones. Not only that: besides reducing stress, it burns calories, strengthens the immune system, acts as a natural antidepressant, reduces anxiety and signals goodwill to your environment.
Laughing is free, we all know how to do it, there are no disadvantages and it turns your mood by 180 degrees. Put on your widest smile whenever possible and be silly. You’re doing yourself a favor.
5. Positive Thinking
Imagine the following situation: it’s Monday morning and you’re rushing to the subway because you need to attend an important meeting at work. In a hurry, you can’t make it past the last light, which turns red just under your nose. Just when you thought, it can’t get worse, it starts to rain. Soaking wet, you run to the subway, miss it by two minutes, and you come, half an hour and completely soaked, too late for your meeting.
Even if it sounds like a horror story, it doesn’t have to be the absolute disaster for you and your mood. There are techniques how to get the positive out of any situation.
Change your perspective by focusing on the things you can actually change.
Neither the traffic lights, nor the subway, nor the rain is to blame for you being late for the meeting. Next time get up on time and no traffic light in the world can stand between you and your meeting. The result? You will be so calm that there is no stress to relieve.
6. Offline Is the New Luxury
Ask yourself: How many times did it happen that you aimlessly and unconsciously clicked on the Facebook or Instagram app on your smartphone?
With WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and co. we’re not only permanently hooked to our smartphones, but we are also expected to always be available, anytime and anywhere. In doing so, we expose ourselves to an incredible flood of information, which we can barely handle. If you check your emails or messages regularly, you’re putting yourself under unnecessary pressure and create stress.
The information that pours down on you from all directions is a burden to your mind. On the one hand, because you feel compelled to answer and on the other hand, because some of this information will make you think of something completely different and thus defocus you.
If you feel like you need a break, turn off your smartphone. The world won’t end just because you can’t be reached for several hours.
Positive body contact, such as cuddling, releases oxytocin, a happiness hormone. Oxytocin inhibits the stress hormone cortisol, which is released by your body during metabolic processes.
Put simply, this means cuddling and hugging is a legit way to reduce stress. This does not only apply to contact with other people, but also with animals.
8. Treat Yourself
Take your time for the things that are important to you. Reward yourself with your favorite meal, a relaxing massage or a soothing bubble bath. By you’re looking forward to your favorite meal after a hard day at work, you’ll motivate yourself and reduce stress at the same time.
A healthy diet helps you to release stress. Less coffee, sweetened drinks and alcohol, and instead more water and wholesome foods with important micronutrients (fiber, vitamins, etc.) are enough to make a difference.
With a good diet, you are not only in good physical health and fit, but you are also more stress-resistant.
Just try it yourself: drink half a liter of water every morning after getting up and eat fruit and vegetables every day. Avoid fast and junk food, alcohol and control your coffee consumption. In combination with enough sleep and regular exercise, you will notice a difference after just one week.
Balancing the hectic pace of everyday life with your free time is very important to successfully cope with stress.
Make free time your priority and make room for it. Whatever you like to do, do it. Dancing, going to the gym, playing games, being out in the fresh air or meeting up with friends are all activities that help you achieve a certain balance in your life.
Don’t forget that life has more to offer than work and commitments.
11. Relaxation Music
Have you ever sat in front of an open fire and listened to the crackling of the burning wood? This has an incredibly relaxing effect on your mind and helps to relieve stress.
Listen to music that quickly accesses the subconscious. Sounds from nature like rain, animal sounds, fire or waterfalls are known to quickly disappear from your consciousness when you hear them. For example, the continuous sounds of ocean waves on the beach are very similar to our breathing cycle.
How does music reduce stress exactly? With soft background music, your “thinking” mind gets bored relatively quickly and switches off. That’s why you often hear relaxation music unconsciously. Your consciousness leans back and recovers.
12. Go After Your Passion
As soon as you pursue your passion, you will feel less stressed. Stress at work suddenly turns into positive stress as you work on things you personally believe in. The ideal situation would be that you work on topics which will still be fun and motivating for you in ten years from now.
If you can’t combine your profession with your passion at the moment, do it in your spare time. See tip number 10.
13. Things Where You Don’t Need to Think
Your mind relaxes best when you don’t think. We mean not only meditation, television or Netflix, but also folding clothes, walking, swimming and everything else that has repetitive processes where the head can switch off.
14. Chewing Gum
You can actually handle stress by chewing gum. Chewing promotes blood flow to the brain and suggests to your mind that you are currently eating. From an evolutionary point of view, eating food is a situation where we’re relaxed and don’t have to fear danger.
In fact, there are even studies that show that people who chew more gum have a better sense of well-being and less stress.
15. Reduce Caffeine
Whilst for some it is a morning necessity, for others, it can cause nervousness and anxiety.
Excessive caffeine consumption makes you more susceptible to stress. This is because caffeine has an effect on various hormones such as cortisol. Therefore, reducing caffeine can also reduce stress.
Bonus: How to Reduce Stress at Work
We have included this extra chapter because many people suffer from stress at work.
Most of us are at work five, six or even seven days a week. By this regularity, stress at your workplace is often the first step to burnout.
Stress at work is given when you:
- … don’t get along with your managers or colleagues
- … feel like you don’t have any control
- … don’t like your job
- … don’t see the meaning of your work
- … do things you don’t see yourself responsible for
- … you’re feeling permanently pressurized
If only one of the upper symptoms applies to you, there is at least some stress given at your workplace. If the stress also feels negative, you should definitely consider our tips and work on reducing this stress in the long run.
Besides from the ways we already mentioned, here are some additional tips for less stress at work:
- Avoid perfectionism
- Learn to say no
- Stay out of conflicts
- Address problems openly
- Demand clarity and adjust your expectation
- Eliminate interruptions
- Avoid multitasking
- Be organized
… and in the worst case, quit your job. Often it is not as difficult as you might think. If you’re not more interested in your current job, it’s never too late to learn a new profession. Remember that reducing and eliminating stress is important for your health – and after all, being healthy is more important than anything else.
Stress is a natural reaction of the body and not always bad. Being completely stress-free is therefore difficult to achieve just by nature.
How to reduce stress? Here once again our 15 tips summarized:
- Exercise regularly
- Use Power naps
- Think positive
- Be offline
- Spoil yourself
- Eat healthily
- Find balance in your life
- Listen to relaxing music
- Go after your passion
- Do things you don’t need to think about while you’re doing them
- Chew gum
- Reduce caffeine
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a deep breath. In most cases, it’s you who is putting the pressure on yourself. In order to banish stress from your life in the long run, it’s important that you find your personal balance, and don’t get angry about everything and everyone, and that you’re mindful of your body and mind.
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