Maybe it sounds strange, but sometimes, being stressed out can actually be good for you.
No, really – have you ever been so stressed out about something, that it’s literally all you could think about? And as a result, it actually pushed you to do whatever stressed you out in the first place – public speaking, making that deadline or going to that party?
All of the above are great examples of a positive stress management – it’s when it’s not funneled and used properly that stress becomes a problem.
What is Stress Management? A History of Stress
Stress management is a fancy term for how to deal with stress. It’s something which is very specific to each person (much like dealing with anxiety or depression), and for which there are many techniques.
Stress, by the way, is your body’s response to being ‘under attack’. It’s a throwback to the old hunter-gatherer days, where people were constantly in danger of being killed by predators, other humans – or dying in some other horrible way.
In other words, it was an appropriate response. When these early humans feared for their lives, they quickly released cortisol – ‘the stress hormone’. Then, when they were out of danger, they their stress melted away pretty rapidly, because their stressful situation was over, their cortisol levels dropped.
Destressing and Keeping Stress Away
You see, that’s the problem we have nowadays. Our stresses are usually in response to something non-life threatening, and so the ‘end result’, such as being eaten by a lion or not, is nowhere near as clear.
Above, I explained what caused our hunter-gatherers to become stressed, and how they reacted to it was a natural response.
Unfortunately for us, while we’ve evolved as a species, most of our emotional responses haven’t evolved alongside us: we’re having natural impulses, but applying them to the wrong situations.
That means, in a nutshell: that feeling of stress is our body telling us that we’re in life-threatening danger (which we’re not).
And we know we’re not. But while the hunter-gatherers could (mostly) work out where they’d be in the most danger and avoid it, or escape from danger and feel less stressed – we can’t.
The problem with modern-day stress is that, unlike the hunter-gatherers, what we get stressed over stress reactions often have no clear signal that it’s over.
Think about that for a second – the last time you got seriously stressed about something – can you remember the point when the stress went away? Can you pinpoint a moment? Or did you slowly move on?
Of course, if your last stressful moment was because you actually were in life-threatening danger and you managed to get away safely, then I tip my hat you, friend.
If not, then the below is for you.
How to deal with stress and anxiety – tips and tricks
By the way, stress and anxiety are so closely related, that if you learn how to tame and keep your stress away, you’ll be learning how to deal with stress AND anxiety in no time at all.
And so that brings us to here: the practical guide to keeping stress away in the long-term, and managing stress when it happens, in the moment.
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Otherwise, here’s a few tips to get you started with keeping your stress away.
I’ve divided this guide into two sections – immediate stress management tips, and long-term, to keep stress away.
Immediate Stress Management
If you find yourself needing to know how to deal with stress absolutely right this second, then here are some quick and easy instant stress management tips:
- Leave the room/office/situation. You should feel your stress levels go down with every step you take.
- Sit somewhere quiet for 5 minutes and focus on breathing deeply (this circulates oxygen better)
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
- Make yourself a hot drink and drink it somewhere quietly – a good cup of tea does wonders (Bulletproof even have a stress-busting tea blend).
For Long-Term Stress Reduction
To keep that stress away in the long-term it takes a bit more practice. Of course, you can do the above activities if you find yourself needing to know how to deal with stress in an instant- but the goals of this is to make it so you rarely feel stressed at all.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation – even 10 minutes a day can change your reactions and lower your blood pressure.
- Get exercise. Even a few minutes a day of moving around (a short walk, cycle or jog) works to boost your immune system, which keeps you healthy – and a healthy body is much less prone to stress.
- Drink water. Regular readers (hey, why don’t you join us?) know how much I talk about drinking lots and lots of water. But a hydrated body is a happy body, and a happy body tackles stress much better – if at all.
- Eat healthily. In my beginner’s guide to clean eating, I explained how it changed my life, and even the way I felt and thought – just because I stopped eating certain things.
Be Strong: You Know How To Deal With Stress
And there you have it – a quick and easy guide of everything to do with stress management: what stress is and why we feel stressed, and how to deal with stress when you’re feeling stressed, and also prevent it in the long-term.
Good luck, and I’d love to hear how this helps you to deal with stress (and anxiety).
All the best,
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Also published on Medium.