75% of all Americans feel negative stress at least twice a month. Half of that number claim it’s severe! (CNN Health) In other words, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Many times, we are under so much constant stress that we don’t even realize how stressed out we are! There are four groups or classifications that stress manifests. The common responses of “Fight or Flight” – negative ways of dealing with stress are found here. If you can check off a couple symptoms from any group, then you could be stressed and not even realize it. Many of you can claim multiple checks. The more checks, the closer you are to a critical stress overload.
A. Cognitive Symptoms
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
B. Emotional Symptoms
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
C. Physical Symptoms
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive
Eating more or less
Sleeping too much or too little
D. Behavioral Symptoms
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
Nervous habits such as nail biting, pacing, wringing hands, rubbing two fingers together. The last one I call “drummer’s leg.” You’ve all seen it; the leg that rapidly goes up and down while sitting.
The following tips will help with stress management. Some you have seen before and others will be new to you. All have been proven successful on some level.
Tips for Reducing Stress
1. – The most innovative and perhaps controversial solution, since there has not yet been any psychological testing, as far as I know, is to not suppress or avoid your stress but to allow yourself to feel it. Go into it. Experience it. Discover the real cause behind it. It’s almost never what we think it is. It is usually an elemental fear such as; abandonment, death, loneliness, not being loved, etcetera.
The anticipation of pain and suffering is often more stressful than the actual experience. A strange phenomenon occurs when we allow ourselves to feel pain or discomfort and experience it fully; it mitigates and then goes away. Poof! Our brains redefine the signal.
To prove this point; the next time you have a small pain or discomfort in your leg or arm or anywhere, devote all of your attention to that pain and allow yourself to feel it fully. “Be that pain.” It will go away. I guarantee it. It’s like magic! The brain makes a shift.
2. – Write the cause of your stress down on a piece of paper, crumple it up and toss it in the trash. You are more powerful that it! Say this, while tossing. It will help.
3. – See your doctor if your stress is chronic. In other words, when no matter what you do, there is no reprieve. Ask him to check your blood work for vitamin deficiencies..
4. – Exercise releases endorphins that help the body release stress and relax. Just about any exercise will help; take long walks, jog, do yardwork, gardening, or do any other favorite physical activity. Yesterday, there were two guys in Riverside Park playing Merman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game using lacrosse balls. How cool is that?
5. – Go dancing. It’s hard to be stressed out and dance at the same time. Let loose, let it go, even if you can only do the “white man overbite!” Who cares? Have some fun.
6. – Read a good book or article. Reading articles from this website is perfect for this!
7. – Escape to the theater or a music concert.
8. – Many artists have found that painting or drawing their stress help relieve it. That’s right. Draw a picture of the monster in the closet or the stress boogie man. Crumble that one up and toss it, too!
9. – Chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins that help us feel good and reduce stress.
10. – Reduce caffeine and sugar intake.
11. – Play music; either play and instrument or listen to a download, CD, etc. I’ve found that lying down on the couch and listening with my eyes closed helps transport my mind to an alpha wave state. Alpha waves calm the mind.
12. – Drink a cup of chamomile tea or any other non-caffeinated tea.
13. – Sit with your tongue out. Yes, this works. See: “Performing Under Pressure” Perform
14. – Eat carbohydrates. A bowl of cereal, pasta, potatoes – help the body relax. Foods with a Low Glycemic Index or G.I. will not induce the pancreas to secrete much insulin; thereby helping the body to relax.
15. – Have a glass of wine beer, or a dram of whiskey. Alcohol acts as a depressant. A little goes a long way.
16. – Find a good therapist or support group. Try to get a handle on what you can control and what you can’t. Hearing others with a similar issue helps to see our own stress from a distance.
17. – Take a leisurely drive into the countryside. Long, relaxing drives can help by getting distance from your immediate surroundings and help put things into perspective.
18. – Have sex; preferably with your spouse. Sexual tension and hormones build up to compound any additional stress.
19. – Prayer works. If you are one of the fortunate who have faith, then you can give all of your problems to God. Give God your stress, too. Remember, you still have to do the footwork. Yes, having faith does make life easier.
20. – Scream into a pillow. The immediate release of your anger instead of keeping it bottled up will help with stress. Let it out.
21. – Hit a punching bag and give your punches a voice. That’s right. Express your anger in words and physical release. It’s interesting what you can discover during this process. It will help you release.
22. – Take Vitamin B Complex Stress Tabs. Vitamin B deficiency will cause chemical stress in the body. B vitamins are water-soluble which means they will be washed away by drinking liquids. Stress and smoking also deplete them.
23. – Eat a healthy meal filled with nutritional value. Sometimes, a lack of certain vitamins will cause stress.
24. – Get some sunshine. Vitamin D deficiency causes all kinds of issues, including stress.
25. – Get a good night sleep. See my article: “Insomnia Undressed; 35 Tips to Help You Sleep” Sleep
26. – The old cliche: Look at the Big Picture. Ask yourself, “If this was my final day on Earth, would this be important?”
27. – Imagine the thing you’re frustrated with and spit it out. That’s right. You’ve heard the expression; “I’m so mad I could spit!” Well, spit! (Into the toilet.)
You may have seen a baseball game. Notice how many times the players spit. Yes, for many of them, it’s so unconscious, they don’t even realize how frequently they’re spitting. Baseball pitcher Matt Garza comes to mind. That guy must spit at least five times between each pitch!
28. – Go to the beach. There’s something about the calming effect of being near water and open skies. Some say it’s a reminder of being back in the womb?
29. – Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body relax. Have some turkey.
30. – Pet your dog, cat, or something. Giving love helps us calm down. Remember, love is the one thing where supply is unlimited.
31. – Meditation can help stay centered and allow us to deal with our problems with a clear head. It also helps us see that we are not our problems. Knowing that you are not your situation, predicament, or circumstances is key.
32. – Get a massage. Tension is often held in the muscles and stored in your tissue cells. Massage will release this tension.
33. – Take a hot bath, long hot shower, hot tub, or steam room. Again, warm water calms the nerves.
34. – Take a sauna. Sweating out toxins helps relieve the workload on the liver. This reduces stress on the body.
35. – Ask your doctor about stress relievers. Beta-blockers are popular. I don’t recommend them.
36. – Sharing your personal methods for reducing stress in the comments section below will help reduce your stress, too.
37. – Finally, share this article with one of the tabs or make a donation at the bottom of the page. Generosity helps relieve stress, too!
*The info on the four groups was obtained directly from Helpguide.org,