Chronic stress can undermine your happiness and your productivity at work. Thankfully, there are some fun stress management techniques that can help you feel better.
Our modern culture of overwork sometimes normalizes stress. Folks brag about being “so busy” as if it’s an accomplishment. The culture can make you feel that you aren’t successful if you aren’t strapped for time or running from one thing to the next.
However, the truth is that stress isn’t a good thing at all. In fact, it’s actually terrible for your health, productivity and your general well-being. The symptoms of stress affect your body, your behavior and your thoughts and feelings. If you become accustomed to living with stress, you might start to neglect to notice it, or its effects, over time. But, no matter how you cut it, stress does take a toll. It can undermine your professional success and do damage in other areas of your life, too.
Stress isn’t something that will go away on its own, nor can it be swept under the carpet. You shouldn’t ignore your stress. Instead, you should focus on finding ways to combat and manage it that make sense for you. Here are few things to try.
10 Unusual Stress-busting techniques:
Everyone is a little different. What helps one person to minimize the negative effects of stress might not work as well for someone else. It pays to spend some time thinking about which methods and techniques make sense for you in your life.
We all know that things like eating right, exercising and meditation can help manage stress. But, there also some more unusual, but still effective, methods that you should know about, too. Consider trying out the ones that appeal to you. Integrating a few new stress management technique into your routine could do wonders for your career.
Sure, there’s a lot to be said for thinking positively if you are trying to reduce your stress. Doing so can help you to see the bright-side of life’s ups and downs. But, it isn’t always easy to get there. Sometimes it helps to blow off a little steam first.
It turns out that there are actually some benefits to swearing. Researchers have found that using foul language helps to relieve stress and pain. Of course, you want to be sure that you aren’t directing your curses at anyone in particular. And, you should probably be alone when you let those four-letter words fly. But, so long as you don’t do anything that undermines your professionalism, swearing can be a quick and easy way to blow off a little steam.
2. Play video games
Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. A new study from the Entertainment Software Association, reported on by Variety, found that 65 percent of adults in the U.S. play video games for recreation and stress-relief. Playing video games is a much more common form of entertainment than it was in the past. Rather than watching television at the end of a long day, more and more adults are tuning into video games.
Taking a break from the demands of your regular life and having a bit of an escape can be a wonderful thing, as long as it isn’t taken too far. Playing games for an hour or so can provide a nice respite from the grind. But, gaming your entire weekend away could leave you feeling worse than when you started. And, too much gaming could lead to real problems in your life and career.
However, if you enjoy video games and can control yourself and not overdo it, playing can be a great way to relieve stress.
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3. Cancel something
We all know that it feels good to accomplish things. You get a nice mood boost every time you tick something off of your to-do list. But, sometimes when you’re under a lot of stress, cancelling something can feel just as good.
If you’re overwhelmed at work and craving a little downtime, take a good long look at your calendar. Are there any commitments here that you really don’t want to keep? Maybe your friend’s husband’s birthday party sounded like fun when you first agreed to go. But, now you’d really appreciate having that Friday night just to relax.
If you’re feeling super stressed, do yourself a favor and cancel one plan that feels more like an obligation than a treat. Take some time for yourself. And, don’t feel guilty. Tell your friend the truth, that you’re totally overwhelmed at work and you won’t be able to make it. Then, enjoy the time to yourself.
4. Hang out with your pet
Numerous studies have shows that animals can help to decrease stress in humans. Spending time with your pet can provide some spectacular benefits. You may even want to consider investing in a furry friend, if you don’t already have one. Unless you’re someone who dislikes animals or is way too busy to care for a pet, research shows they can provide stress relief and other health benefits, too.
Spending time with animals helps to regulate and improve mood. And, owning a pet often encourages other positive stress management habits like spending time outdoors and going for walks.
Whether you go to a comedy show, turn on a sitcom, or hang out with your funniest pal, finding a way to make yourself laugh can be a great way to relieve stress. Laughter has many benefits. In the short term, it helps to activate and then soothe your stress response. It increases and then decreases your heart rate, which feels pleasurable and relaxing. It even stimulates circulation and aids in muscle relaxation, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.
On a long term basis, laughter helps to improve your mood and your level of personal satisfaction. It can help you to cope with difficult situations and get the most out of delightful ones. Laughter also helps you to bond with people and form stronger connections.
A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, which was reported by Men’s Health, found that singing loudly reduces cortisol levels and increases the production of oxytocin. This helps to relax your body and reduce stress. So, if you want to feel better fast, try belting it out in the shower, the car, or any other place you can find.
7. Get creative
Do you like to paint? Or maybe you’re into scrapbooking or writing poetry? If you have a creative hobby, investing some time into it can do wonders for your mood. Doing something creative can be a great way to relieve stress.
Your final product doesn’t have to be good for this kind of time to be valuable. Exercising your creativity goes a long way in and of itself. These kinds of activities are all-consuming. You’ll be able to really take a break from thinking about work and immerse yourself in something entirely different for a while. And that’s a great way to beat back stress.
8. Clean up
When you’re feeling stressed, tidying up might be the last thing on your mind. But, spending some time cleaning helps to create a less chaotic environment. And, being in a clean space helps to relieve stress. If there’s chaos and clutter all around you, your mind will probably feel pretty out of control, too. But, when your environment is peaceful and serene, it inspires you to feel the same.
Don’t get overwhelmed by how much you have to do. Just take it one thing at a time. Start with surfaces that you see and interact with every day, like your desk at work or your countertops at home. Even spending just 15 minutes on organization is helpful. Your space will feel more calm and, in turn, so will you.
“Some people find great relief in reading, or bibliotherapy,” Philip Muskin, MD, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center tells Everyday Health. “It may be something inspirational, a piece of great literature, or it may be something just for fun. Just something that takes yourself out of yourself.”
Reading can provide a healthy escape from day-to-day life and it’s therefore an excellent way to combat stress. Plus, you just might learn a little something while you’re at it. It’s so easy to flip on the TV or browse social networking sites in order to “relax” at the end of a long day. But, while these activities might provide some temporary stress relief, the impact of reading is often more positive and profound.
10. Get up early
When you’re feeling stressed, the last thing you might think about doing is waking up early. You’re probably tempted to sleep in. However, taking time for yourself at the beginning of the day is a great way to ensure that the rest of the day goes more smoothly.
“Take time in the morning to center yourself,” says Leslie Carr, Psy.D, a psychologist from San Francisco, speaking with Huff Post. “A lot of people shoot out into their days like a rocket ship and it never gets better from there.”
Starting your day intentionally and from a centered and calm place can help your day unfold in a similar way. Therefore, starting your day early can go a long way to help you combat stress.
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