Updated: Feb 4
A lot of the times people seek help from mental health professional for stress reduction on advisement of their doctor, whom they might have visited for some physical health related issues. Migraines, certain pains and aches, allergies can be managed if we learn to manage our stress.
One of the follies when talking about stress is that we look for absence of stress rather than managing or coping with stress. Often, we think about stress management only when we are right in the middle of something stressful, we seek salve or a balm like cure for stress rather than thinking about what we can do every day to destress.
This article talks about destressing every single day. We will look at a few simple things and activities to incorporate in everyday life to keep our stress levels easily manageable.
Sharing your day
It is important to discuss your day and anything that bothered you. This helps you get perspective and support from people you trust and love. It is good to share the ongoings of the day with your loved ones, it helps in catharsis. Social support is an excellent de-stressor, human contact and connection helps in reducing stress.
It is equally important to be grateful for all the good things that happened during the day. You can either share this with your friends and loved ones or you can keep a journal (digital or notebook) to write about thing/person/ event you are grateful for and why? It is important to write why you are grateful for something.
It is extremely important to have some stress bursting hobbies to practice and fall back on. A lot of the times we expect our hobbies to be perfect as well, “I should practice sketching every day” “I have to go swimming otherwise I will be stressed.” If this is how you think about your hobbies then it is very likely to be stressed by the hobbies than be relaxed by them.
Give ourself options and choices, don't rely on one single hobby.
Sometimes, we cannot go out for a walk or we are pressed for time or we cannot afford the materials required to sustain that hobby, in such situations it proves fruitful to have more than one hobby to rely on. Remember to have more than one hobby of varying levels of ease and difficulties, so you have choices available.
It is extremely important to exercise, we already know this and there is not much that I can say here which will be massively different from all the other articles you might have already read. However, knowing the importance of exercise does not always translate into behaviour of exercising.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that we look at exercise as this perfect activity that needs to be done in a specific way at a specific time in specific clothes in a specific place. With the kind of busy schedules that some of us have it can be very difficult to be this “specific” about exercise.
Habits are sustainable when they are easy and fun.
One of the best ways to overcome this is to make sure that exercise is easy and fun. Easy refers to removing the “specific” obstacles, finding a way to get physical exercise in easy ways that can be part of your day. If you cannot give 45 minutes give 15minutes it is better than 0 minutes. Have several exercises to choose from like walking, running, stairs, high intensity exercises, yoga, dancing, sports etc. Give yourself the flexibility to adjust, rigid perfectionism stands in the way of sustainable habits.
We often think of diet as beneficial for our physical health and we forget that our brain is part of our body and it requires nourishment and energy to function properly. Research suggests that a balanced diet is essential in management of a lot of mental disorders including depression and anxiety. It is even suggested that there might be benefits to our cognitive functioning i.e., decision making, problem solving, attention and concentration.
Rigid perfectionism stands in the way of sustainable habits.
Again, do not fall into the pit of rigid perfectionism when it comes to eating healthy. We do not want diet to become a stressor, that would be counterproductive. Find an easy way of incorporating healthy food into your current diet. Talk to a nutritionist if you are confused about how to incorporate healthier options into your diet gradually and with the resources which are available to you.
It is very important to get a good night sleep for our cognitive functioning, this is something that has been repeatedly proven in a lot research related to impact of sleep deprivation. Regular sleep routine and hygiene is a good way of ensuring good sleep. You can read more about how to sleep better? here.
Sometimes we perceive stress when there is none. We need to learn and change our perspective, ask yourself if this is something to be stressed about? Is there a way to problem solve this situation, is it under your control? This is something that we can practice daily. We encounter situations which may cause us to feel stressed and this practice of perspective shifting and challenging is good for looking at such situations in a more helpful light rather than just worrying thoughts.
Have a few daily relaxation rituals like meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation. There are number of resources available on the internet which can be used as a guide for relaxation techniques.
Whenever I suggest this to my clients there is a bit of an awkward silence before they say that they do not know how to do that? It is very important for us to just engage in the world around us without any judgement and expectations. Not everything has to be productive.
Take some time and do nothing, not every single second has to be productive.
Sit outside for some time and just watch the world pass by, look at people, cars, trees, birds, ants…just be. It is okay to take a little time out and do nothing at all. Give yourself a break and exist in the world without contributing anything for 15 minutes, it’s okay.
Please remember to have fun with all these techniques, do not strive for rigid perfectionism with these techniques. Use these techniques as a daily guide to stay mentally healthy and to cope with the stress of everyday life.
Please contact me if you have questions or want to learn more about stress management.