12 Practical Ways To Overcome Stress And Feel More Positive In Life
Last updated on : March 27 2023
Is your boss always breathing down your neck at work? Are your grades or finances in a bad state? Is your relationship with friends or family on the decline? Do the problems of the day and future worries keep you up all night?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are probably experiencing stress.
This article provides information on recognizing stress's physical and psychological symptoms and offers various methods for tackling stress. It also provides insights from multiple studies on how these methods can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Jump to the section you want by using the links below.
- 1. Travel Often
- 2. Practice Calming Methods
- 3. Chew Chewing Gum
- 4. Exercise Often
- 5. Dress Right
- 6. Decrease Caffeine Intake
- 7. Spend Time With Family And Friends
- 8. Curate Your Anxiety Fighting Playlist
- 9. Get A Pet
- 10. Eat Healthy Food
- 11. Laugh
- 12. Simplify Your Surrounding Environment
Recognizing The Symptoms Of Stress
Stress makes itself apparent through a variety of symptoms. The key to overcoming it is first to recognize these.
According to WebMD, the majority of stress is either physical or psychological.
The physical symptoms of stress include
- Low energy
- Diarrhea or constipation, and nausea
- Body aches
- Chest pain
- Clenched jaw
- Dry mouth
- Cold or sweaty hands
- Susceptible to the common cold and other infections
Many of the physical symptoms become evident over a long period. In the shorter term, an effective way of calming yourself during a stressful episode is to check your body and make a conscious effort to relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and hydrate. Even watching what clothes you wear can have an impact.
Psychological symptoms include,
- Easily agitated and irritable
- Low self-esteem
- Constant worrying
- Inability to focus
Combating psychological symptoms is much more challenging and requires putting in the effort to turn your life around, take necessary measures, and bring in more positivity to everyday tasks.
The following are a list of methods that help overcome stress. Where you can incorporate them into a confidence-boosting early morning routine.
1. Travel Often
Traveling is a great way to nip the factors causing you to stress in the bud. It allows you to relax, unwind, and return to your life calmer and more clear-headed. Or turn you into a digital nomad.
Outside of giving you a well-deserved break, travel teaches you to be more flexible, social, and motivated.
Be it a vacation in the Caribbean or a road trip on dirt bikes, traveling to new places, and meeting new people is almost certainly going to keep your mind off your problems.
Traveling provides the following benefits,
- Improved performance at everyday activities
- According to this study by Expedia.com, people who travel regularly are less likely to suffer from heart problems.
- Better sleep quality due to the release of stress
2. Practice Calming Methods
You can release stress in a healthy and controlled manner with practices like yoga, meditation, and simple breathing exercises.
Many studies show that practicing yoga lowers stress levels and elevates moods. Your body and mind tend to relax and reach a calm, exact state through yoga. Meditation also helps in boosting self-esteem and bringing down stress and anxiety.
A quick and easy way to calm down in a high tension situation is to focus and internalize on breathing patterns. Controlling your breathing with deep inhalation and exhalation cycles force the brain to relax. Having control of your breath is also a great way to maintain tension.
3. Chew Chewing Gum
Chewing gum emulates the same brain waves associated with relaxation. It is an excellent way to overcome stress quickly and on a budget.
A study by ScienceDirect shows that chewing gum reduces occupational stress, anxiety, and depression and leads to an increase in positive feelings. The same study also observed that people who follow this behavior are more likely to perform well at work and outside.
4. Exercise Often
Another way to reduce stress levels is through exercise.
Exercising releases endorphins, a hormone that enhances your mood, which in turn induces the brain to relax and stay positive. According to this study, people who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from anxiety and stress issues than those that do not.
Regular exercises, in particular resistance training, help boost your self-esteem and confidence. It tires your body sufficiently to obtain a healthy amount of sleep, thereby balancing your sleep cycles and lowering the stress hormones (cortisol) in your body.
Exercise with a partner or in groups to also improve your social life, a factor that contributes to stress relief.
5. Dress Right
According to psychologist Lawrence D. Rosenblum, when choosing to clothe for a stressful event, it is beneficial to select clothes you have worn in similar situations that ended on a positive note.
The brain associates the positivity with the clothes, and in turn, you are more likely to remain stress-free.
Pick comfortable clothing such as a casual white dress or an airy shirt when preparing for a stressful meeting as comfort goes a long way towards confidence.
6. Decrease Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a component found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks and is the most commonly used drug across the world.
The stimulant keeps your mind alert and awake, but these effects come with a price.
Caffeine, in excess, can lead to an increase in the symptoms of anxiety, including high heart rates and shaking. According to Psycom, caffeine triggers the same "fight or flight" response in the brain and can cause you to overreact to situations.
Cutting down on caffeine by decreasing the quantity of coffee or tea you have per day can result in substantial improvements to the stress and anxiety you are experiencing.
7. Spend Time With Family And Friends
An excellent way to unwind and relax is to take occasional breaks from the sources of stress and spend these breaks with trusted and loved family and friends.
According to this study by the National Medical Association, people with fewer social connections are more likely to face depression and anxiety. So don't forget to keep in touch with your friends and family.
Reach out to your social network when you feel overwhelmed and anxious, as the support offered through them can get you back on your feet.
8. Curate Your Anxiety Fighting Playlist
A survey performed by McGill University on the effects of music on stress found that music not only reduces it but also improves the overall immunity of the body.
Curate a playlist of calming sounds and music that helps boost your mood. If and when you begin to feel the effects of stress catching up to you, take a break, lean back, and listen to this playlist as a sure-fire way of calming you down.
9. Get A Pet
According to this study, spending time with your pet can help your body release oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that promotes feelings of comfort, safety, and relaxation.
Pets also provide a healthy distraction from the factors causing your stress. And playing with your pets has the added benefit of keeping you active.
However, make sure to keep in mind the responsibilities attached to taking care of a pet while adopting one.
10. Eat Healthy Food
Certain foods help decrease anxiety and stress levels.
Dark chocolate, in small quantities, helps ease anxiety. It not only helps increase blood flow to the brain but also tastes good, which in itself can improve your mood. According to this study, dark chocolate also promotes the release of serotonin, which is a chemical that helps reduce stress levels.
Consider adding probiotic yogurt to your diet as studies find eating this aids in tackling stress.
Additionally, Turmeric contains the component curcumin, which boosts omega-3 fatty acid DHA in the body. DHA, in turn, helps regulate the chemicals dopamine and serotonin that are in charge of stress control in the brain.
Laughing out loud provides tremendous benefits to mental health. It helps relieve stress and you to feel much more positive after. If practiced regularly, laughter also helps boost your immune system.
While it is hard to find humor when you are stressing out, you can attempt to look for funny television shows or hang out with friends or family that make you laugh.
Psychologists have incorporated laughter into their therapy process. The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) study and promote laughter as a form of therapy for mental health.
Research conducted by Mora-Ripoll R found that laughter provides physiological, psychological, and social benefits. The brain is unable to distinguish between self-induced laughter and laughter caused by external stimuli, so go ahead and make it a habit to laugh regularly.
12. Simplify Your Surrounding Environment
Your surrounding environment can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
Choose to focus on the positive side of situations, unclutter your environment, and cut ties with people or things that spread negativity. Cultivate a habit of going through all tasks calmly and schedule appropriate breaks in between to ensure you stay focused and active.
Learn to pinpoint activities and situations that tend to cause stress and zero in on ways to go about these tasks minus the stress.
If an overload of work is causing you to stress, allow enough time to complete it before taking on new tasks. Avoid missing deadlines by using schedules, to-do lists, and reminders.
If a relationship is spiraling out of control, have a calm discussion with your partner, instead of worrying alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions most frequently asked by our readers.
1. How can stress affect your eating habits?
Stress can lead to overeating or undereating, negatively affecting your physical health. Some people turn to food for comfort when stressed, while others may lose their appetite and not eat enough.
2. Can stress cause physical pain?
Yes, stress can manifest as physical pain in different body parts. This is because stress can cause muscle tension and inflammation, leading to headaches, back pain, and even digestive problems.
3. How can I tell if I'm experiencing burnout?
Burnout is a type of chronic stress that often affects people who are overworked or have high-pressure jobs. Symptoms of burnout include feeling exhausted all the time, losing motivation, and becoming cynical about work. If you're experiencing these symptoms, taking a break and seeking the necessary help is essential.
4. How can I manage stress if I don't have time for self-care practices?
If you have little time to devote to self-care practices like yoga or meditation, you can still do some simple things to manage stress. These include taking breaks throughout the day, practicing deep breathing, and making time for enjoyable activities.
5. Can stress affect my mental health?
Stress can harm your mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. If you're experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it's essential to seek help from a professional.
6. Is it normal to feel stressed all the time?
It's normal to experience stress occasionally, but it could be a sign of a more significant issue if you're constantly stressed. Chronic stress can seriously affect your physical and mental health, so taking steps to manage it is crucial.
If you are worrying about something you cannot control, try one of the above instant de-stressing methods. But remember to always reach out for help if the world around you seems overwhelming.
A healthy mental lifestyle takes a lot of work initially, but the positive effects are incredibly beneficial to a long and fruitful life.
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Editor: Charles Fitzgerald