When you get stressed or anxious, it can be really easy to shut down and lose focus on your goals and responsibilities.
Your brain’s first instinct to reduce stress is to distance you from your stressors but this tends to only add more to your plate in the long run. It’s important to know how to handle stress and keep moving forward towards your goals.
With these everyday hacks, you don’t need to quit your job and move to another country to get away from your stress.
Just make a few minor tweaks here and there, and you’ll be stress-free in a few minutes a day!
Everyday Hacks to Reduce Stress Physically
1. Stand Like a Superhero
No, really. Researchers at Harvard University found that your posture and body language have a powerful impact on your hormones, affecting stress management, effectiveness, and pain tolerance.
But, if you consciously change your body language, you can literally hack your body chemistry.
The Harvard study found that standing in a “Superhero pose,” with your hands on your hips, back straight, and chin up and to the side (cape and costume optional, but encouraged) for just two minutes, you increase your testosterone levels (the confidence hormone) and decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Just adjusting your posture throughout the day to keep your back straight and chin up can drastically affect your outlook on stress and anxiety.
2. Take Deep Breaths
You probably don’t think about breathing much throughout the day, but if you stop to take notice, you’ll realize that you don’t naturally take deep breaths.
Normal breathing is shallow and comes from the chest rather than the diaphragm. But shallow breathing prevents oxygen from fully filling your lungs and limits the diaphragm’s range of motion which increases tension and anxiety.
Try breathing deeply for 30-60 seconds next time you’re feeling stressed and you’ll quickly bring yourself back to calm.
The increased oxygen flow also releases endorphins to your brain which further reduce stress and increases satisfaction.
3. Alter Your Diet
Bad news for those of us with sweet tooths, but sugar has been directly linked to stress.
When you’re feeling stressed, your blood sugar levels tend to spike, which is fine if you have healthy blood sugar levels, but if you favor a high sugar diet then your cortisol levels will increase to compensate and you find yourself handling stress poorly.
A fatty diet can cause weight gain which hinders respiration, lowers confidence, and can lead to high blood pressure.
Increased blood pressure is both a cause and symptom of stress, which is why those who suffer from high blood pressure tend to suffer anxiety and anger issues.
Caffeine and other Stimulants
Caffeine has become a daily essential in some people’s lives. Most people can’t even get to work without their first cup of coffee.
But caffeine is a stimulant, which means it purposely triggers the release of cortisol, which causes you to be more alert and energetic, but its main effect is to increase stress.
A small amount of caffeine won’t send you into an anxiety attack, but next time you go for that second cup of the day, ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
The same goes for nicotine, guarana energy drinks, ephedrine, and any other stimulant.
Everyday Hacks to Reduce Stress Mentally
1. Adjust Your Perspective
Stress has a tendency to snowball on itself. If you’re already worried about a big project at work then you might take it harder when you can’t find your keys in the morning, or your favorite team loses the game.
Ask yourself if the thing causing you stress is going to matter in a month. If you’re not sure that it will, then take a deep breath and try to let it go.
Make a conscious effort to challenge your negative thoughts.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I making too big a deal out of this?
- Will this matter in a week? A month? A year?
- Is it out of my control?
- Can I be more productive to move past this quicker?
- Is this a “what if” worry or has it actually happened?
2. Identify Your Stressors
Everybody has different stress triggers depending on their job, life situation, goals, and relationships.
One of the best everyday hacks for fighting stress is just taking note of where your stress comes from.
It doesn’t sound that impressive, but if you can determine when and where stress is going to strike, then you can prepare for it. And when you’re prepared for something, you already know you can overcome it and you become less stressed over it.
If your stress is related to another person, find a way to reduce your interaction with them or talk with them to address what’s causing you stress.
If you just find yourself short-tempered over little things, ask yourself if you’re avoiding caffeine and getting enough exercise.
Understand your stress, so you can defeat it.
3. Find a “Switch-Off” Activity
Find something that helps you unwind after a high-stress situation, but stay away from unhealthy quick-fixes like cigarettes, alcohol, or “comfort” foods.
Some people like to take their dog for a walk or play a round of golf. Others like to stay inside and watch a movie or read a book. Find an activity that you find relaxing and have it ready to go when stress arises.
One highly recommended relaxation technique is meditation. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on a yoga mat to practice meditation. It’s as simple as closing your eyes and focusing only on your breathing for a few minutes.
This makes you more mindful of the present and breathing releases endorphins which calm you down.
Stress affects your body on both a physical and mental level and it’s important to understand both sides of it.
You can make your stress worse through poor diet, exercise, or negative thinking. Fortunately, this means that with only a few slight alterations of your lifestyle, you can make a dramatic impact on your stress levels.
Don’t let your negative thoughts keep you from advancing toward your goals. Learn how to identify your stress and by remembering these simple everyday hacks!