Stress is a major problem in modern life. I have put together my top 10 stress management techniques that will surely help you to reduce stress in your life.
Regardless of how old or how young you are, if you are reading this, I think you will get something from reading about my top 10 stress management techniques to reduce stress in life.
This article is concerned with 10 self-help ideas and suggestions which are my top 10 techniques to reduce stress. These self-help ideas and suggestions can be applied almost straight away, they are practical and in most cases, can be applied as soon as you read the ideas here.
I think that it is important to know about a number of different stress management techniques so that you can apply them as needed. Knowing one or two, may be enough until some event happens and there is nothing to fall back on.
So being aware and knowing how to use additional stress management techniques may help you to keep a problem small, rather than letting it become big. You do not want to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Walking is a great stress management technique
Walking briskly for a while every day is a great stress management technique. If you do over 30 minutes of brisk walking every day or most days that should really help your stress levels.
From a stress management viewpoint, it is usually better when possible to walk in a natural environment rather than a concrete environment. By a natural environment, I mean a park or a green area where there are trees and grass. By a concrete environment, I mean a city area where there is little consideration given to trees and grass.
Walking in a natural environment away from the pressures of modern life and away from modern motorized traffic is much more relaxing than walking in a concrete environment keeping an eye out for modern motorized traffic in my opinion.
Asking yourself “Will this be important in 5 years time?”
If something is stressing you out, if you ask yourself “Will this be important in 5 years time?”, you might find that nearly always the answer is “No”. Then you can just say to yourself “Not important. Moving on with the rest of my life”.
If the answer is “Yes”, then ask yourself what can I do about this now? The answer for now, might be to note it down in a little notebook, with the intention of seriously looking at it later. If you say I have noted it down, and I will look at this notebook this coming Saturday or whatever works for you, to follow up on this. Just try not to keep putting it on the back-boiler.
Giving thanks for 3 things every day
If you get a small notebook and write down 3 things every night that you are grateful for, you will find that this technique helps. One reason why it helps is that it focus the brain to do a specific task and looking for the 3 things that you are grateful for means that you are not thinking in a ‘bad way’ during that process.
Whatever you do, do not put yourself under pressure to always come up with 3 things. Give yourself 5 minutes to do this every night. If you can’t think of 3 things to be thankful for, coming up with 2 things you are thankful is OK. If you can’t think of 2 things to be thankful for, coming up with 1 thing you are thankful is OK. If you can’t think of 1 thing to be thankful for, that is OK too. It is the searching for the things that you are thankful for that is important.
Note the date and the things you are thankful for in your small notebook. The added benefit of this, is that you can review the contents of this small notebook later and that helps to put you in a good mood and that helps to reduce stress levels.
Tell your body to relax
When you are alone, if you let out a loud sigh when breathing out that signals to your body to relax. You breathe in through your nose, and you breathe out through your mouth. When breathing out, let out a loud sigh. If you do this, 3 to 5 times, hopefully you will feel your body starting to relax.
If you are in company, you can do this without letting out the loud sigh. In which case, you let out a silent sigh while imagining letting out a loud sigh. Just be careful, that you do not let out a loud sigh, otherwise people will wonder what is going on. 🙂
Doing Meditation can help
First things first, what is meditation? Well in my opinion, meditation is a process that individuals do to try to calm the mind. The individual during meditation is trying to keep their attention focused on a main focal point. For example, how they are breathing. By focusing their attention on their main focal point, their attention is not drawn to other things. This of course, is easier said than done. When the individual realizes that their attention has drifted away from their main focal point, they are to return to their main focal point.
Meditation may be used to reduce stress which is why we are interested in it here. There are many different meditation techniques. Here, I will focus in on one extremely simple approach which you will be able to do yourself, seconds after reading this.
- Sit comfortably
- Breathe naturally
- Follow the sensation associated with breathing in and breathing out
- Let tension out with every out breathe
- When your notice your mind wandering and it will, return to your breathe
The main idea is to do this for a set period of time, starting with two minutes and performing a few times every day. You can use the timer function within your smartphone to set the amount of time that you decide to do this. You can increase the amount of time from two minutes over time to longer periods. Increasing it by one minute per week is one approach, until you have got it up to your target amount of time.
With meditation, doing 5 minutes consistently every day is better than doing 15 minutes for 4 days every week. The primary idea is to build up a daily habit that you do every day. Some time back, I knew nothing about meditation, and my brother suggested that I give it a go. I found an online meditation beginners course and I did that online course and from a meditation viewpoint I have not looked back since. I now enjoy meditation every day.
Go to the seaside
I remember growing up, and every so often, you hear that someone’s doctor recommended that they go to the seaside and I would wonder why. It turns out that being by the seaside may help to reduce stress levels. This is for a number of reasons.
People say that “sea air is good for you”. Well, any time I have been to the seaside I would have to agree with this. I have noticed that it also tends to be “fresher”. Then there is also the sound of the waves against the beach. This is usually relaxing, and is the same sound again and again. This helps to reduce stress.
I also find that if I go for a walk along the beach, that I would end up walking for longer than I had initially planned. Being at the seaside may be less stressful because there is hopefully this ‘blue’ natural stuff; the color of the sea and the color of the sky. The sea is a natural environment, there is a great feeling of open space, and there is that fresh air. The sound of the waves against the beach is also a sound that helps to reduce stress.
I also suggest taking some photographs of what you see at the seaside taking in all this wonder, so that you can relive your visit to the seaside by looking at your photographs.
7. Do regular “brain-dumps”
A while back when I mentioned to a medical professional that I could not sleep due to stress, she suggested that rather than taking a sleeping pill to do what she called a “brain-dump”. The way that she suggested is that if I can not sleep, grab some paper and a pen, and write down all the things going through my mind in no order and to just get it down to paper. The very act of doing this releases some stress. I have been lucky, I have been able to sleep since she told me this, so never tried it out in the real world.
In the course, of doing a stress management course, this idea comes up in a different way. The idea there is to perform regular “brain-dumps” on a proactive basis, so that the stress levels do not get too high in the first place. This I much prefer to the sleep problem. As well as that, some suggestions and supporting materials are provided in that course. I wrote a review that stress management course, although I do not specifically mention this particular stress management technique in that review, it is part of the course materials.
Use a worry-box
A slightly different approach to the previous suggestion is to use a worry-box. The idea is that the worry-box is there, and when you have any worries, you simply note it down in a piece of paper and throw that piece of paper in the worry-box. Once it is in the worry-box, you move on with the rest of your life. If this worry comes up again, you simply note to yourself “I have already added this worry to the worry-box and will be looking at it in more detail next Saturday” or whenever.
Then at a later planned scheduled time, you simply go through these slips of paper and process them. Some of them, will be worries that did not happen. A lot of worries are usually things that do not happen, so bear that in mind, when you are worrying about something. It may not happen and you are ‘wasting valuable time’ worrying.
Others will be worries that you may need to do something about. That is up to you. Just be aware that consistently putting that worry on a long finger might not be healthy for you long term. Also if you write things down that you do not want other people to see, you may need to secure your worry-box, and to physically destroying those slips of paper at the appropriate time. There is great satisfaction in throwing those slips of paper into a burning fire and watching those slips of paper burn away.
Counting slowly to 10
The idea of counting slowly to 10 is something that has been around a while. Something happens, and people react straight away without thinking. If something happens, and you then count slowly to 10, you may be in a better place mentally to respond to the situation, rather than reacting.
The primary idea is to get some control back, stop for a few seconds (assuming it is safe to do so), take a few deep breaths and then count silently to yourself, very slowly and very much on purpose from 1 to 10, and if necessary to keep counting if you still feel the need to until you get to 100.
The idea is to use this time to bring your emotional feelings down a few notches. Internally there is an adrenaline rush going on, counting gives you some time so counteract the adrenaline, hopefully giving you the time and space so that you can response is a considered one rather than a reaction.
Look at your sleep routine
Make no mistake about it. Getting the correct amount of high end quality sleep is important. Getting too little or too much is problematic. There are some ideas to help that when you go to bed, that you fall asleep in a relatively quick and effective manner:
- Going to bed at the same time every night is a great help
- To get up at the same time is a great help
- Before going to bed, for 2 to 3 hours beforehand, do not use computers or smart phones (you may have to look at accepting incoming voice calls however do not use the smart phone as a computing device)
- Before going to bed, for 2 to 3 hours beforehand, do not do social media
- Before going to bed, for 2 to 3 hours beforehand, do not listen to news, as news tends to be ‘bad’ and thinking about ‘bad’ things when going to bed is not going to make going asleep any easier
- Do not drink coffee for a number of hours before going to bed – You need to determine the amount of coffee you can drink before it interferes with your sleep before going to bed (I do not drink coffee after 6 pm, but I believe everyone is different)
- Do not drink excessive amounts of soft drinks before going to bed – I find that I can drink 1 can of Coca Cola before bed without interfering with my sleep, if I drink 2 cans, I do not get any sleep (Everyone is different)
- Do not eat excessive amounts of specific foods before going to bed – Some foods make it harder to sleep – Everyone is different, so this is something you need to monitor yourself
- Make sure that when you go to bed, that social media such as Facebook responses from your Facebook friends do not beep and disturb your resting time
- Make sure that only real emergency high priority stuff can only reach you – You want a phone call from a brother to come through telling you know that your sister is seriously sick but you do not want a Facebook comment that is not important to beep and wake you up, or more likely to beep and prevent you from going to sleep
- If there is something on your mind, write it down in a little notebook by your bed before you go to bed – That way you are signaling to your brain, it is written down, I will not forget and I will attend to it later – This also applies if you wake during the night and can not get back to sleep and there is something on your mind, write it down
Read my Healthy Sleep Hygiene article here.
As you can see there are quite a number of stress management techniques out there. My list of the top 10 Stress Management Techniques just outlines 10 different stress management techniques out of the many different techniques out there. I hope that a number of my top 10 Stress Management Techniques can help you in your management of stress in your life.
As you can see I have some experience on stress management directly from my personal experiences and indirectly from obtaining practical knowledge from different sources over the course of my life. I have come across a lot of information out there that has not been put together well and would be difficult to apply in what I call the real world.
There is no way that I want to read a 1,000 page book full of academic theory that contains very little practical knowledge that can be applied to my real world straight away. I prefer to read a few paragraphs about some technique that provides all the required information and practical knowledge to apply to the real world straight away. I don’t mind if that acts as an introduction to that technique which can be followed up with more detailed practical knowledge that can be applied to my real world almost straight away.
This article is part of my Stress Management Techniques series of articles. I have another article where I discuss over 20 different stress management techniques. Just know before jumping over to that article, some of the techniques discussed there have already been discussed above! If you want to learn about these, you can read them here.