Wellness trends

Six Techniques for Effective Stress Management

March 12, 2024

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. In fact, some forms of stress can be a healthy component of motivation and an active life.

There are two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. According to the American Psychological Association, “Eustress is the positive stress response, involving optimal levels of stimulation: a type of stress that results from challenging but attainable and enjoyable or worthwhile tasks (e.g., participating in an athletic event, giving a speech).” 

Alternatively, distress is “the negative stress response, often involving negative affect and physiological reactivity: a type of stress that results from being overwhelmed by demands, losses, or perceived threats.” When dealing with difficult external stressors, it's important to balance the distress you may experience to ensure you’re maintaining good mental health and steady levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

In this blog, we’ll cover 6 of the most commonly used techniques for stress management and how you can incorporate them into your daily routine. 

Mindfulness Meditation 

Engaging in mindfulness meditation to bring awareness to the present moment can reduce stress levels, and often promote relaxation. The practice of mindfulness can help us get out of the constant loop of negative thoughts often associated with high levels of stress.

Luckily, mindfulness is something that can be easily incorporated into your everyday life — by taking a few moments to sit and truly pay attention to calming your thoughts or simply paying attention to the little things on a daily walk to recenter your thinking.

Breathing Exercises 

Practice deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or box breathing, to calm the mind and body during stressful situations.

There are many different kinds of breathing exercises. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Pursed lip breathing
  • Box breathing 
  • Alternate-Nostril Breathing
  • 4-7-8 Breathing

Physical Activity

The benefits of exercise extend beyond cardiovascular health. Engaging in regular physical activity or exercise releases hormones, like endorphins, and can reduce overall stress levels.

Something as simple as taking a brisk 10-minute walk or dancing to your favorite song can help improve levels of stress and your mood as a whole.

Relaxation Techniques 

Beyond the meditation exercises mentioned earlier, you can also leverage relaxation techniques to control your stress levels. There are a ton of different kinds of exercises that exist — it’s all about trying each out to see what works for you personally. 

Some popular techniques include progressive muscle relaxation exercises, guided imagery mindfulness, aromatherapy, music and art therapy, and more traditional methods like Tai Chi.

Before settling on a new relaxation routine, be sure to consult with your doctor or a mental health professional to ensure it’s what’s right for your overall health.

Support Network 

When fighting the battle against harmful stress, there is strength in numbers! 

Seek support from friends, family, or support groups to share experiences, find emotional support, and learn coping strategies from others who understand your challenges. Oftentimes, mental health professionals will encourage patients who suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety to seek respite with group or 1:1 therapy sessions — chat with your doctor to see if either of these support methods could be right for you.

Time for Self-Care 

All of the techniques we’ve mentioned above require time and dedication — or making time for self-care. But, self-care goes beyond meditation or exercise, it can even be as simple as making the time to take a hot bath, read your favorite book, or spend time out in nature. Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and unwind by doing what you love!

We all deal with stress — and with the right amount of mindfulness and dedication to self-care you can find relief. It’s important to experiment with the techniques we’ve listed and find what works best to calm your mind and body to lower stress levels. Remember to talk through these lifestyle changes with your doctor and seek immediate medical or psychiatric help should your stress become unmanageable.

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