Stress is everywhere these days. But sometimes that same stress can build up until it is overwhelming. Stress is a contributing factor in several diseases from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes to depression. Stress is literally killing us. We live hectic, overscheduled lives and there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. What can we do to lower our stress level without radically changing our lives? One thing we can do is learn how better to manage our stress and our reactions to stress. Following these five simple steps can channel that overwhelming stress into something more productive and bring you more happiness and relaxation.
5 Ways to Get Through Overwhelming Stress
1. Let Go of Things That Are Out of Your Control
The biggest thing you can do is just to let go of worries about things that are totally out of your control. One big thing you can do is lessen how much you listen to news programs, whether they are on television, radio, or podcast. News feeds on people’s fears and anxiety and leads with stories that push those buttons. The vast majority of the things on the news are so far out of your control that they are in no way going to affect your life.
Unless it is your job to worry about international politics, the economy or what case the Supreme Court is hearing next, then you probably shouldn’t worry too much about it. It is good to be informed, but don’t get sucked into the 24/7 fear-mongering and drive your stress levels up. Let it go and worry about things that you can make a difference in like local politics, how your family is doing and taking care of them and your friends.
2. Step Away on Occasion
Sometimes things become so bad that you need to just step away and take a vacation or get away for the weekend. Get out of your routine, see something new, or visit with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Get out of the bubble of your job, family and day-to-day worries. Something as simple as taking a walk in the park, or sitting outside in nature, can alter your perception of stress. All those things that are in your life will all be there when you get back, but try to relax and forget about it all for awhile. When you come back, you will be refreshed and re-energized and ready to tackle all of those stressful things once again.
3. Ask For and Accept Help When it is Offered
If you are in a jam and cannot figure out a way through the difficulty on your own, then don’t be afraid to ask for, and receive, help. We all need a helping hand every now and again. There is no shame in asking for help when you are overwhelmed. Friends and family will step up when you need them to. Try not to take advantage of that good will or it might not be available when you really need it.
4. Eat Well and Exercise Regularly
When you are stressed, you will be more susceptible to eating foods that are bad for you or end up making you feel worse. So called “comfort foods” can be high in sugar and carbs, which stimulates the pleasure centers of our brains, making us feel better for a short period. However, the crash afterwards can make you feel even worse. Exercise, on the other hand, can can release a hormone called endorphins. These endorphins can make you feel better and lessen the effects of pain similar to morphine. Eating healthier foods can lift your mood, and when combined with exercise, can release some of the stress you experience positively and constructively.