Balancing the many daily aspects of life as a human being can be a tall order. From work, to friendships, to finding enough time to Netflix and chill, the grind of it all can easily be cause for much stress. And yet, there are definitely people in the world who have figured out how to deal with stress and without getting totally overtaken by the often harrowing ebb and flow of life's ups and downs.
While it might seem next to impossible, there are, indeed, things you can do to become one of these stress-free individuals.
As for me? I am not a stressless person by nature -- far from it. In fact, I have been known to break out in nervous hives when I'm overtired, and I get major tension headaches on the reg. So the trick for me is tapping into the tools that make life more manageable on the whole, especially as preparation for when sh*t actually hits the fan.
Because, you know what the truth really is about stressing out all the time? It's really not good for your body, and it actually just breeds more stress. Your body kicks into a fight-or-flight response and sends out cortisone and adrenaline. Over time, stress causes, for example, your organs to go into overdrive, your heartbeat to speed up, your blood pressure to increase, and your cells to inflame.
So, what can be done to keep your levels of stress under control?
1. Sleep Through The Night
Sleep is nature's sweet, sweet healer, and it's super necessary for a calm, stressless life (or, let's be real, a life with less stress). According to the American Psychological Association, sleep is necessary for your body to function in several ways, all the way from memory consolidation down to repairing your muscles. Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression, mood swings, and impaired judgment. Even just an extra 60 to 90 minutes of shut-eye could seriously make the difference on your levels of calm and contentment.
So pop that sleep mask on, and snooze away.
2. Spend Plenty Of Time With Friends
Being social and connecting with the people you love is a huge stress-reliever. A study from Canada at Queen's University showed that closeness with a loved one helps reduce situational stress, as well as the feeling of having to bear your burdens on your own.
So make sure your friends are definitely the kind of people who don't make you feel even more stressed, of course. (Because heaven knows we all have a few of those.)
3. Don't Let Yourself Become A Workaholic
Sorry, guys. Put down the phone, back away from the e-mail. You really need to leave your job at your job if you want to be in control of your stress levels.
Studies show bringing the work home does you no favors on an emotional and psychological level.
4. Get Your Mindfulness Practice On
Whether it's deep breathing or a few minutes of meditation, mindfulness really counts. There are studies that not only support mindfulness as a stress-reducer, but also find that these practices can actually change the makeup of your brain.
One study showed that brain volume actually changed as a result of practicing mindfulness. The parts of your brain that control stress and anxiety, for example, got smaller in the participants over the course of a meditation-based study.
5. Work It Out, Literally
As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.”
And by God, she was onto something. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is one of the most highly recommended coping techniques for stress and anxiety among health care professionals.
6. Read, Because Reading Is Awesome
A really wonderful way to get the heck out of your own head, a study from the University of Sussex shows that even six minutes of daily reading reduces stress levels. Pretty great, right?
So put away the phone, shut off the computer, and curl up with a book -- even if it's just a few pages.
7. Go Outside For Once
It's true. Mother Nature loves you, and you should spend time with her. The fresh air and natural light can do wonders for your mood, your immune system, and according to a study from University of Pittsburgh, can alleviate pain.
So, put these into practice, guys. You can thank me when you're calm.