Basic Coping Strategies for Stress
Stress is something that affects almost all of us at one point or another throughout our lives. Stress can bring on a variety of symptoms and health problems including fatigue, loss of sleep, substance abuse and stomach upsets. In order to combat the ill effects of stress you will almost certainly need to adopt some effective coping strategies for stress. Each of these five simple steps can help to ease the effects of stress on your life immediately.
Introduce exercise as part of your daily routine
The body’s natural reaction to a stressful situation is to release adrenaline. Without the exertion that would accompany ‘flight or fight’ the adrenaline builds up in the body. Regular exercise will help to use up this excess hormone and to relieve the ‘flight or fight’ responses.
Not only does exercise use up the excess adrenaline but increasing the heart rate release endorphins. These are natural chemicals that assist in relaxation, make us feel good and adopt a positive attitude.
Take a brisk five minute walk now or any time you are feeling really stressed. Go empty handed – no phones, no pads!
Learning to Breathe Again
In all probability you are taking shallow breaths from your chest. Be aware of you breathing for a few minutes and breathe from your diaphragm. Try this. Breathe in and fill your belly with air before your chest. Hold it for a second and then breathe out all the way. Keep your shoulders back but drop then and squeeze the last drop of air out. Take a few breaths like that means more oxygen will be delivered throughout the body and your brain. Try focusing on your breathing and taking as this can often help to calm you.
Music is strongly linked to our moods and used by many corporations and public places to help induce a mood. Just listen to the music in a public thoroughfare when the authorities are trying to move people along and compare that to an hotel lobby or hospital reception. Calming music such as instrumental or light classics, (not rock or rap!), can go a long way to relaxing you and easing tension.
Experiment and find what works for you. Then have it with you when you need it. I find that instrumental baroque works well for me. Mozart works well for many people of all ages. Much has been written about the Mozart effect. Try it. You might even get to enjoy it!
Meditation is an excellent Coping Strategy for Stress
It is well documented, learning to meditate will be one of the most useful things you can do for yourself and is an excellent coping strategy for stress. Contrary to a lot of beliefs it is not difficult and you do not have to perfect it to benefit. Firstly, you do not have to sit for hours cross legged with you feet tucked under your thighs. That’s assuming you could get there in the first place! And secondly, if you were born anywhere west of Tibet and not raised as a monk you will never be able to totally clear the mind and focus on nothing. There are many aids and techniques available. Find what works best for you.
Grab a countdown timer of some sort, take five and try this right now. Sit naturally wherever you are. Straighten you back, relax your shoulders, keep your head up and close the eyes. Now start to count backwards slowly from fifty. When you come back from wherever you thoughts took you don’t get cross or frustrated with yourself just put the thoughts to one side, you can deal with then later, and start again from fifty. You can use this simple meditation trick anytime and you will feel better afterwards. There are no prizes for getting to one or even forty-eight!
Developing the habit of eating good healthy food should be obvious. Unfortunately, in times of stress we very often turn to comfort foods and junk foods. Sometimes we do it without even being really aware of what we are eating. As these foods are often more difficult to digest they make matters even worse. It is essential that you give your body the correct fuel in order to cope better.
Substitute nuts berries or citrus for all those in between snacks. Eat more chicken and turkey as both are high in the amino acid that helps to create a sense of calm. Fish, especially the oilier fish like tuna and mackerel are equally good for you.
Rest and Relaxation
Yes, rest and relaxation are essential to any regimen of coping strategies for stress. Schedule ‘time out’ to get involved in some sort of pleasurable activity, sport, pastime or hobby. Schedule time to just relax. Go for a walk in the park, read a book enjoy some quiet time. The break, whatever it is, will help you recharge your batteries.