Effective and Simple Strategies to Manage Stress

By Clinton Marquardt - Sleep & Fatigue Specialist

April 27, 2015

relaxation, stress, stress reduction

Morning MeditationManaging a 24/7 lifestyle is challenging.  Getting good quality sleep during the day is hard with personal relationships tugging you one way, family tugging you another way, and all the daily tasks tugging you in yet another 50 ways.  It can get stressful.  If your stress climbs too high and it sticks around too long, it can set up a nasty vicious circle.  This type of stress can ruin the quality of your night or day sleep.  If your sleep is poor, fatigue will easily take over and make it even more difficult to deal with the stress. This of course makes it even harder to get good quality refreshing sleep.

The next time you feel your stress creeping too high or sticking around too long, try these effective and simple strategies to bring it back in check. You will probably find three or four of the strategies work really well for you. If you do, make them part of your 24/7 lifestyle management system and you will find your daily stress decreases and your sleep quality increases.

  1. Use your brain to counteract the stress response.  Your brain can’t be stressed and relaxed at the same time.  Both states originate from a system in the brain that can only be in one or the other state. The next time you feel that overwhelming stress sensation, force yourself to speak slowly. This will put your brain in a more relaxed state.  You will breathe better, think more clearly, and react more calmly to whatever situation you find yourself in.
  2. Change your breathing to a slow and deep pattern. Take deep breaths in and slowly release them.  Do this four or five times.  If you can carve five or 10 minutes out of your 24/7 life, find a meditative breathing exercise you enjoy and practice it often. The more often you bring your mind and brain back to a relaxed state, the less often your stress will creep too high.
  3. Keep your anger in check.  Anger management is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress.  When you find yourself steaming at something that you would normally consider small or really not that big a deal, choose to let it go.  Consciously tell yourself that you are not going to get angry and that the issue really does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Don’t allow your your mind to waste energy getting angry or focussing on something trivial.
  4. Sit and stand straight and tall. Keeping an open posture with your head and shoulders up and back straight will keep you from slumping over into a closed posture that can lead to muscular pain and tension.  Stress can result from pain and tension.
  5. Choose one small task from your To-Do List and get it done right now.  Return a phone call, pay a bill, or even just file some papers.  Stop everything and get that one small and easy task completed.  Getting one of your To-Do List items done will give you a feeling of accomplishment and release the energy your mind has been dedicating to that task. You will feel less burdened and more free.
  6. Graze all day.  Drinking lots of water and eating small nutritious snacks all day long will keep your body’s biology nicely balanced.  Hunger and dehydration can push your body into stress mode and can make the stress of a 24/7 lifestyle worse.
  7. Get outside as much as possible and return to nature if you can.  Even if it is just for five or 10 minutes on a patio or a walk around the outside of your building, the outdoors are healing and can quickly bring your stress level down. Being in nature is best, but simply experiencing a view of nature, like looking at the trees or greenery of a park, even from a distance, can help your body deal with the negative consequences of stress.
  8. Set up a relaxing end of the day ritual. Make relaxation a priority for the last hour of every day before you head off to sleep.  Set up a routine you can do in the same order at the end of every day.  Make sure everything in that hour is relaxing. This means that you should not be using the time to plan the next day, do housework, deal with family issues, talk on the phone or text, watch TV or surf the internet.  Instead, use this time to relax your mind and body and prepare for sleep.  For example, a good end of the day ritual would be to pick out your clothes for the next day, lock up the house, take a hot bath or shower, have a light snack, brush your teeth and read a good book or listen to relaxation music until you feel sleepy. Then turn out the light and dream of another stress free day.


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