The Oxford dictionary defines stress as, “experiencing mental or emotional strain or tension.”
Experiencing stress is a natural part of being human but it’s what we do (or don’t do) when we’re stressed, that can create a ripple effect of accrued stress that negatively impacts our health; mentally, emotionally and physically.
It’s this tension that can lead to being ineffectual at work, struggling to maintain healthy relationships, and physical indicators such as high blood pressure. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2018) reported that one in five Australians aged 18 years and over, measured a high blood pressure reading. ABS (2018) further reported that approximately 13% of Australian adults experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. Those stress stats are not declining!
How to Manage Stress
When we are stressed, the first thing we often do is, not do the things that make us feel good. We do this for a variety of reasons; brain fog, being time poor, feeling overwhelmed, don’t know what to do, too many things on the to-do list… the list goes on. Regardless of why you get stressed and when, there are some simple ways to manage and reduce stress. Keep this list as a go-to-guide somewhere visual and easily accessible.
1. Create a Feel-Good List
It might seem like a basic thing to keep a list of things (and people) that make you feel good, but when we are stressed, we forget to do what feels naturally good. Our cortisol levels rise and without even realising it, we can overcomplicate situations or take longer than required to make simple decisions and perform basic tasks.
2. Relax Breathing
Meditation and mindful breathing are powerful ways to manage stress and high blood pressure. Meditation can also help to improve sleep patterns and lower the risk of heart disease. There are so many ways to meditate to help you regulate your breathing and moderate stress levels, all you need to do is find a quiet space, close your eyes and exhale.
3. Do Things That Make You Smile
Smiling might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re stressed, but smiling is the one thing that can instantly turn a frown around. Smiling creates a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing healthy hormones – dopamine and serotonin, which ultimately help to regulate our mood and feel good feelings.