Stress affects us all at one point or another, be it at work or at home. A little pressure can at times feel motivational, helping us meet tight deadlines or tackle complex problems. But feeling stressed often leads us to indulge in unhealthy habits, like smoking, overeating, and drinking too much alcohol – none of which help maintain heart health.
For a healthy lifestyle, then, it’s important to learn to relax. But what is stress management in practice, and what are good stress management strategies?
What is stress management?
The parts of our day that feel very stressful are often simply unavoidable, whether it’s a packed commute, juggling multiple tasks at work, or even doing the housework. Stress management means being able to cool off, calm down, relax, and deal with stress sensibly, rather than hiding from challenging situations with temporary or counter-productive coping habits, like smoking or stress-eating.
10 stress management tips to help you relax:
- Go for a walk: Great for both body and mind, walking is an ideal way of unwinding – even taking a quick walk around the block in your lunch break can be refreshing. It is particularly effective if you can find somewhere with a bit of greenery: trees and bushes make a soothing backdrop for relaxation. If you’re not sure where to go, there are plenty of tools to help you find both urban and rural walking routes.
- Try mindfulness or meditation: No longer the preserve of Indian ashrams, a significant number of people in the UK meditate daily. Mindfulness is the latest technique, which uses deep breathing to help you feel calm.
- Take a bath: A simple, relaxing option at the end of a hard day. Not only does being in water often calm us down, the alone time also gives us space to go over our thoughts.
- Challenge yourself: While managing stress might sometimes feel difficult in itself, giving yourself something exciting and challenging to focus on can in fact become a great way to put your worries aside. If one part of your day is stressful, keep it from becoming the focus of your thoughts by spending time on something else that really engages you, like a craft, cooking a healthy meal, or sport. Try to think of a new project that’s perhaps just a little bit out of your comfort zone.
- Yoga: People often find that yoga is a great activity for stress management, keeping you focused on your own body and mind rather than the things going on around you. Try a class, podcast, or online video as a starting point.
- Help other people: Focusing on someone else is a great way to feel better. Think of a friend or relative who’s going through a hard time at the moment, or have a look at local volunteering opportunities near you.
- Exercise: A good workout can be a brilliant way to let off steam after a frustrating day, getting you ready of a good night’s sleep. We have a great selection of 10-minute workouts here on the site to help out; simply combine one or more to build a regime that suits your mood. Team sports are another great way to unwind, involving both exercise and socialising. Finding a sport you love and a team you fit into will give you a little extra motivation to get outdoors and into a relaxed mind-set as you play.
- Label your feelings: While it may sound strange, this can be incredibly effective. Recognising what you are feeling and describing the emotion to yourself helps you deal with it more effectively.
- Take some time out from social media and screen time: While they can at first feel like good places to vent, conversations on social media sites can often get heated when you’re stressed. Avoid these websites and apps when you are feeling agitated, and enjoy a break from the noise.
- Listen to your favourite music: Music has long been associated with relaxation – it’s often the swiftest way to improve your mood at the end of a hard day. Have a few tracks on hand that you can rely on to make you feel better when needed.
These are just a few short tips for stress management – you can also find plenty of further information on managing stress from the NHS here. Looking after yourself goes beyond a healthy, balanced diet and exercise – it’s important to give yourself opportunities to calm out and regain your equilibrium. Start making relaxation a priority today!