What’s worse than physical pain? Psychological stress, whether that be from work, relationships, or other factors. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce psychological stress and keep your mind and body healthy.
In fact, certain relaxation techniques like breathing exercises have even been shown to influence your DNA! Here are some tips on how to effectively reduce psychological stress so you can improve your quality of life in the long term.
1. Share your feelings:
Acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed. It sounds simple, but a big part of stress is being in denial about how you feel. The more time you spend hiding your feelings and ignoring stressors, such as an overbearing boss or an unhappy relationship, the worse off you are.
Not only will spending too much time in denial drive you crazy, it can also affect your mental health by making it difficult for you to be happy and perform well at work or school.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of stressors in your life. Instead, try turning towards loved ones and friends who can help you talk through problems or solutions. If they don’t know how to help, finding a therapist or mental health professional is always an option.
If you’re still experiencing stress symptoms, talk with your doctor about whether or not you may need treatment for depression or anxiety. It’s never too late to start working on your mental health. Many people are able to combat their stress by simply talking with loved ones, but if that doesn’t work then it’s time to get professional help.
2. Practice meditation and/or mindfulness:
Mindfulness is about being completely aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s about having a heightened sense of presence, tranquility, and inner peace.
But how do you learn how to practice mindfulness?
Start with meditation!
We all have an internal narrator that runs through our minds throughout each day. Meditation trains us to recognize our thoughts and observe them without reacting or attaching ourselves to them in any way.
Once you’ve mastered meditation, you can begin to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. Try taking a mindful shower or meal each day where you really focus on every sensation and aroma.
The more often you practice mindfulness, the easier it will be for you to recognize when your mind has wandered off into negative thoughts during stressful situations. You’ll learn how to get it back on track quickly before stress levels have a chance to spiral out of control.
Other ways you can practice mindfulness are through breathing exercises, yoga, and writing in a journal. For instance, write down three things you’re grateful for each day.
When you start your day with gratitude and then reflect on what you have throughout your day, it can make an enormous difference in how much stress you feel. The more often we do these exercises, like meditation and mindfulness, the better equipped we’ll be to deal with stress before it starts getting out of control.
3. Spend time in nature:
Several studies have found that spending time in nature reduces psychological stress. Going outside also helps lower blood pressure and boost moods, which is great for long-term physical health as well.
Spending time with friends and family can reduce stress, too. If a trip to the beach isn’t in your near future, try planning some other ways you can spend more time with loved ones.
A study by Swedish researchers found that people who walked in nature for 90 minutes reported less stress, increased energy and a better mood than those who walked through a city.
You can also reduce stress by spending time with family and friends. If you’re finding it hard to unwind from work, ask your loved ones for help. The simple act of reaching out has been shown to reduce psychological stress.
One study from researchers at Bangor University in Wales found that adults who spent time in nature reported fewer mental and physical problems than those who didn’t.
They also felt better about their lives as a whole. Even a short walk through trees can reduce stress, so get outside and find your own personal happy place.
Not only does exercise make you feel better about yourself, it actually has tangible effects on your mind. Exercising for 30 minutes a day can reduce stress by as much as 50% and boost brain power, among other things.
Exercise can also increase endorphins, making you happier and reducing depressive symptoms. Combining exercise with mindfulness exercises like yoga or meditation are even more effective in reducing psychological stress.
Don’t just exercise in bursts. If you are exercising as a way of reducing psychological stress, make sure you exercise consistently. Even just two 15-minute walks per day can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, while making you happier overall.
Meditation and mindfulness exercises can also help you better deal with psychological stress. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, but it’s important that you don’t try to multitask while meditating.
Instead, set aside at least 20 minutes of focused time every day and make sure your mind is clear of distractions like noise or other people. Then turn off all possible distractions like your phone, television, or music.
Now close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Focus on breathing in deeply through your nose, and then exhaling out of your mouth.
Feel each inhale and exhale all throughout your body, from the top of your head down to each individual toe. Repeat for about 20 minutes every day, but don’t try doing it any more than that or you’ll risk getting burned out!
5. Help others:
Getting involved in service-oriented activities can be a great way to keep your mind off stress. Volunteering at a local school, animal shelter or nursing home can take your mind off of your stress while providing an added sense of purpose and accomplishment.
If you have time on your hands, consider taking up a new hobby that contributes positively to society: helping others is both therapeutic and makes life more enjoyable!
If you’re a mom, consider taking your children along on your volunteer activities: kids enjoy spending time with their parents and also benefit from observing their work.
The mental relief gained by helping others will help take your mind off of any stresses that may be contributing to your own psychological stress. Moreover, feeling as though you’ve contributed positively towards society is often rewarding in itself!
Don’t want to leave your children at home while you head out on your charitable activities?
Consider an activity that your whole family can participate in together, such as adopting a pet from a local shelter or collecting supplies for a homeless shelter. This can be an opportunity for bonding with your kids and even giving them valuable life skills.
6. Give yourself a break:
Busy days will have you feeling like your time is filled with so many distractions that it’s impossible to get anything done.
By setting small achievable goals and taking regular breaks, though, you can get through even your busiest days without any psychological stress. Use these tricks for taking a break in just three minutes or less. Not only will they reduce stress, but they’ll keep you productive as well!
Consider implementing a simple break routine into your day. While you’re working on one task, take two minutes for yourself, and then return to your work.
Get up from your desk or find a quiet spot where you can relax for three minutes or less. Meditate and focus on deep breathing, listening to calming music, or getting some water. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to tackle what’s next!
A more targeted approach is taking a break when you start feeling stressed. If your mind is starting to wander and you find yourself becoming annoyed or frustrated, take a three-minute break.
Whether it’s walking around your office building or getting some fresh air, make sure you clear your head before returning to what you were doing. You can also use these short breaks as rewards for reaching goals or milestones in your work.
7. Get a pet:
Pet ownership is an incredible stress reliever. The benefit has been studied many times, and people who own pets tend to be happier, healthier, and better adjusted than their non-pet owning counterparts.
People who own pets are shown to have lower stress levels and fewer physical symptoms of illness than non-pet owners. If a pet can make you feel better physically, why not look into getting one as an effective way of reducing your psychological stress?
If you have children, or even if you don’t, a pet is a great way to teach them about taking care of something. There’s nothing like caring for a living thing to give you a sense of purpose and make you feel more fulfilled.
Pet ownership can also help form healthy habits in your kids like feeding and cleaning up after their pet. Pets are especially great for kids with special needs because they can help them learn responsibility and empathy. Having a pet to take care of teaches children how to be patient, calm, and caring.
8. Have faith:
Studies have shown that religious people experience lower levels of stress than their secular counterparts. But you don’t have to be a member of an organized religion or believe in God for your spirituality and mental health to benefit from faith-based practices.
There are numerous ways to infuse more positivity and faith into your life — whether it’s through meditation, prayer, reading scripture, or doing something nice for others. Pick whatever works best for you and start practicing now!
By keeping a gratitude journal, you can increase your overall levels of happiness and positivity. By listing things for which you’re grateful at night before bed, you’ll feel more optimistic when you wake up in the morning.
Not only that, but when you take time to recognize all of life’s little blessings — even small ones like waking up on a sunny day or being able to talk with a loved one — it creates positive feedback loops that can actually help make them happen more often!
For many people, prayer is an important element of a strong faith-based practice. Although prayer may seem like simply speaking with God, there are a number of things you can do in order to make your prayers more beneficial.
9. Focus on gratitude:
One of best ways to relieve psychological stress is through gratitude. It’s a pretty simple concept: Be thankful for all you have, and your mind will start working toward what you want.
Spend some time each day writing down at least three things that you are grateful for, then revisit them regularly so they can stay top-of-mind when anxiety strikes.
Gratitude also can have a direct impact on your body. A 2011 study found that practicing gratitude helped people deal with physical pain more effectively than those who didn’t practice it.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with daily stress, try putting gratitude into practice. Your mind and body will thank you!
10. Stay connected to friends and family:
Humans are social animals and we’re meant to be around other people — which means we’re also vulnerable when we don’t have a strong support system. We become stressed when our loved ones aren’t around, but there are lots of ways you can stay connected without being physically present.
You can get together virtually through social media, phone calls, and video chats. You can also strengthen your bonds with friends and family by sending care packages in times of need — whether it’s a physical illness or psychological one.
With each interaction you have with them, try to put yourself in their shoes and listen empathically. Lastly, if you have time, plan a trip home for some face-to-face interactions with friends and family members.
If you’re away from your support system, try to spend time with other people who are going through what you’re experiencing.
As long as these relationships are positive and healthy, it can help reduce your anxiety levels by helping you find some common ground with them. The more you talk about what’s going on in your life, they more likely they are to be able to relate and offer some guidance.
Lastly, if you don’t have friends or family you can lean on in person, try finding a support group online. These groups usually consist of like-minded people who are experiencing similar issues and understand what you’re going through. They can be found on forums, in chat rooms, and on social media sites like Facebook.
11. Practice self care:
Why is taking care of yourself important?
You might feel inclined to put your needs first, especially when stress levels are high. But your mental health — and productivity — will suffer if you don’t focus on self-care.
It’s vital that you learn how to reduce psychological stress through practicing self-care strategies and caring for yourself as though you were a friend or family member.
You can’t help others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. When you practice self-care, you’re able to put your best foot forward and set an example for others.
The truth is that it isn’t always easy to put your needs first, especially when stress levels are high. However, by working on self-care strategies regularly, you can start building a more effective and healthy lifestyle.
You might be wondering how you can practice self-care and reduce psychological stress. Well, there are many ways in which you can do so.
One way is by establishing a no-stress zone at home, where you know it’s okay to make mistakes and take breaks as needed.
Having a space in your home that is dedicated solely to relaxing and recuperating from long workdays makes it easier for you to unwind after work or school.
Remember, stress can also be caused by things that are out of your control. Reducing psychological stress can seem impossible at times, but always remember that you have a choice in how you deal with it. Take time for yourself and allow room for fun and positivity; they’re just as important as staying healthy. And take pride in all of your accomplishments so far. You deserve it!
Well, there you have it. There are lots of great techniques for overcoming psychological stress, but none is more effective than reducing your workload. The next time you start feeling stressed, try approaching it from a different angle. One of these techniques is bound to work for you!