Let’s face it, life can sometimes take a toll on us and it’s almost impossible not to feel a little overwhelmed, whether it’s the demanding tasks at work, taking care of family, handling peer pressure and everything else in between.
Sometimes it feels as if everything is screaming for your attention and at the end of the day, it just leaves you feeling stressed out, drained and just lose the will power to do anything.
It’s no surprise why stress has become one of the main issues that are causing health problems in many people’s lives, from sleep problems to anxiety attacks, to depression, weight problems, auto-immune diseases - the list goes on and on.
Clearly, stress management is important and this is particularly true for busy people.
Learning how to manage stress does takes practice, especially if you’re new to this concept, but given the importance of it, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to find some quick and simple ways to de-stress, which fits into your “busy” schedule, and follow through on making them a regular part of your life.
So here are 3 easy tips that you can implement to help you manage your stress better.
1. Kick-start your day the right way with GRATITUDE
Did you know that the first hour of your day determines how you feel, act and think during the rest of your day?
Meaning, if you start your morning with positivity, especially gratitude practices, you will naturally feel more optimistic and are drawn to attract more positivity in your life.
Before you even get out of bed, give yourself a few minutes to smile and practice gratitude. Begin by taking one or two minutes in bed to reflect upon the people and things you’re grateful for in life. It doesn’t have to be a long list, even five simple ones can do wonders for your overall state.
Studies have shown that practicing gratitude reduces stress hormones and improves mood. On top of that, smiling signals your brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins and serotonin), which lifts your mood, relax your body and lower your heart rate. Who wouldn’t want to start their day on a positive note?
So, adding a simple daily gratitude practice is definitely a great way to kick-start your morning.
2. FOCUS on one specific task at hand
Every moment, our mind is flooded with information - sights, sounds, words and thoughts, to-dos and more. But it can only focus on so much.
When we try doing multiple things at the same time, the brain releases more dopamine, making us feel more accomplished. But study after study has shown that while multitasking can be stimulating, and may even make us feel more productive, it invariably makes us less productive.
Think about it, instead of channeling our complete focus and energy into one task, we’re spreading it thin, which prevents us from diving deep into any one of our tasks.
“When we multitask, we do a mediocre job of everything.”
Single-tasking is the opposite of multitasking and it’s better in virtually every way.
Working on one thing at a time lets us focus our time, attention and energy to each task at hand. We’re able to think deeper, make more connections, work more creatively, and find more meaning in the work that we’re doing.
What’s more interesting is that even when our brains may resist single-tasking at first, if done habitually, it can help build up our “attention muscle”. That simply means we get more control over where we direct our attention. Isn’t that just amazing?
So, instead of trying to juggle everything at once, try setting a specific time (eg. 20-30 minutes) and use that time to do just one thing (which also includes ignoring all other distractions). You’ll find it easier to practice each time.
3. Practice DEEP BREATHING exercises
Have you ever noticed the pattern of your breathing when you’re stressed out?
People who are anxious tend to breathe in their upper lungs (upper chest) with shallow, rapid breaths, instead of breathing into their lower lungs (lower chest). This causes your body to release stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), which then triggers your primal “fight or flight” reaction.
On the flip side, deep breathing is one of the best (yet underrated) ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
So once you noticed your body starts to tense up, just stop for a moment and take a few deep breaths to take the pressure off you right away. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel once you get good at it. Just follow these 5 steps:
Sit in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor. Or you can lie down.
Close your eyes and clear your mind.
Imagine yourself in a relaxing place. It can be on the beach, in a beautiful field of grass, or anywhere that gives you a peaceful feeling.
Slowly take deep breaths in and out.
Do this breathing 5 to 10 times, taking your time with each breath.
Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Learning to clear your mind while breathing can open up a new dimension of stress relief that affects your body and your mind to a higher degree.
Like all skills, the more you practice deep breathing exercises, the better you will get at calming your body more quickly and more deeply.
Do practice this formally twice per day. As you become proficient you will find that you can use this breathing exercise without closing your eyes. It thus will be a tool you can access whenever you need to calm your body.
Download our Doc2Us app from Google Play Store and Apple Store and chat with a doctor now.
Eisler, M. (2019). 10 Morning Habits to Start Your Day Off Right. [online] The Chopra Center. Available at: https://chopra.com/articles/10-morning-habits-to-start-your-day-off-right [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].
Bailey, C. (2019). The art of doing one thing at a time | A Life of Productivity. [online] A Life of Productivity. Available at: https://alifeofproductivity.com/do-one-thing-at-a-time/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].
Uofmhealth.org. (2019). Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation | Michigan Medicine. [online] Available at: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255 [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].
WebMD. (2019). Stress: How to Manage and Reduce It. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/tips-to-control-stress#1 [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].
Introducing Doc2Us, your personal pocket doctor at your fingertips. With its name synonymous to “talk to us”, Doc2Us is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.