Managing stress can be difficult. If not treated right away, stress can cause different short-term and long-term health problems. In this article, learn more about effective stress management practices to incorporate into your daily routine.
Practicing relaxation techniques frequently can help reduce stress (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Some examples of these relaxation techniques include:
- Autogenic Relaxation: This technique focuses on visual and body awareness by repeating relaxing and calming words or phrases. While doing so, control your breathing, relax your body, and slow down your heart rate with deep breaths.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique focuses on tightening a muscle group (like the muscles in your arms) for five seconds, and then releasing and relaxing for 30 seconds. Once complete, move on to the next muscle group. This will help relieve built-up muscle tension.
- Visualization: By using this technique, visualize yourself somewhere calm and peaceful. Meditate on this image while controlling your breathing.
Other beneficial relaxation practices include:
- Deep breathing for several minutes
- Meditation (if prescribed by your physician)
- Tai chi
- Biofeedback – Uses electronic sensors and other technology to understand your body’s neuro responses better (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
- Music and art therapy
- Hydrotherapy – A type of water physical therapy (I.e. swimming and other water-related exercises) to reduce pain and swelling (Mooventhan & Nivethitha, 2014).
There are several stress and anxiety management apps on the Google Play and Apple App stores. Two applications we recommend include the MindShift app and the Calm app, both focused on the teachings of mindfulness and redirecting toxic thoughts to positive thoughts.
Positive thinking has a powerful effect on the mind and can help control stress.
Different ways of practicing positive thinking can include:
- Identifying negative feelings toward yourself: While challenging, reflecting on negative thoughts toward yourself can help reduce stress by identifying false beliefs and negative self-talk. It’s a best practice to focus on the small recurring thoughts first, and then work up to your larger problems.
- Being mindfully and immediately aware of negative thoughts: Identifying negative or untrue, unproductive thoughts when they enter the mind, and immediately casting them out, can help prevent a downward spiral of stress.
- Laughter: It is proven that laughter can be a good medicine when trying to relieve stress. This can look like watching a funny movie or having a game night with friends (the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, 2019).
- Live a healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy diet and working out for 30 minutes a day helps with overall mental health and can help reduce stress.
- Be around positive people: Having supportive people around can positively impact your mood and your overall stress level.
- Practice positive self-talk: Practicing self-talk can look thinking or saying positive affirmations, or focusing on the positive outcome only of the situation.
Time Management & Organization
Practicing organization and good time management skills can help reduce feeling stress. It’s hard to see or think clearly when feeling disorganized. Here are some great time management techniques to incorporate (Creagan, 2020):
- Parkinson’s Law: This law explains how one should set time limits for each task to make sure to be on track and not overloaded on how many tasks to do.
- Pareto Principle: This is also recognized as the 80/20 rule. This explains that nearly 80% of the results of a task will be from 20% of the effort (Kos, 2020). Focus on the very important task first, then work on the smaller task after.
- Avoiding Interruptions: Frequent interruptions can deter focus and productivity–two important elements of staying organized. To stay on task, avoid interruptions like phone calls or texts by having a phone or other devices silenced, or finding a nice, quiet space to work.
Limiting your social media usage not only helps for better time management, but it also reduces stress and anxiety levels. For more information on the impacts of social media on mental health, read Dr. Drew Glover’s blog, Anxiety, Depression, and Snapchat—It’s Real.
Reducing stress is important as it can lead to long-term effects on the body (American Psychological Association, 2018). For more ways to help manage stress, consult your primary care doctor today.
- American Psychological Association. (2018, November 1). Stress effects on the body. American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 22). Coping with stress. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/cope-with-stress/index.html
- Creagan, E. T. (2020, February 11). Use the 80/20 rule to manage time and reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/manage-time-to-reduce-stress/faq-20386509
- How does laughter can relieve stress: USAHS. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. (2019, November). Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.usa.edu/blog/how-laughter-can-relieve-stress/
- Kos, B. (2020, December 23). The pareto principle (the 80:20 rule) in time management. Spica. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.spica.com/blog/the-pareto-principle-in-time-management
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, March 18). Biofeedback. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/about/pac-20384664
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, November 5). Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 3). How to stop negative self-talk. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
- Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. (2014, May). Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American Journal of medical sciences. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/