Some stress management techniques work by diminishing feelings of stress in the moment. Other techniques can minimize stress you are experiencing now--by reversing your body's stress response--and can cut down on stress you may feel in the future, by helping you to become less reactive to it! These powerhouse stress relievers can be quite helpful in stress management, as they can essentially help you to reduce the level of stress you experience before you even experience it.
Each of these strategies can work if practiced only once--even three minutes of exercise or meditation, for example, can bring a reduction in stress. (Read the research on exercise and meditation for more on this.) However, they can all create changes that help you to experience stress less intensely in the future--to react to it less, and respond from a more relaxed place. Responding--as opposed to reacting--can bring its own benefits, such as better solutions to the problems you face, and fewer instances where you become your own worst enemy.
The following strategies can help you to build resilience toward stress, and the resources at the end can also help you to effectively manage your stress as you wait for resilience to build.
ExerciseExercise is a top stress relief technique because of the physical and emotional benefits it brings. Regular exercise promotes health and longevity, but can also relieve stress in many ways. (Read more about the benefits of exercise here.) Which form of exercise works best? It depends on who you are. Some people prefer walking, because it provides a low-impact, aerobic workout that can include different types of company and scenery. Others like jogging for the higher intensity, martial arts for the self-defense aspects, or a host of other types of workouts. They key to finding your best type of exercise is to experiment. I also recommend that you join a class if you are having difficulty fitting exercise into your week--classes can be built into your schedule so they may be less-likely forgotten, and you may be less inclined to miss a workout if you know your classmates will notice your absence. See more on creating an exercise habit.
MeditationMeditation is an increasingly popular form of stress management for many reasons as well. (Read about the benefits of meditation here.) Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of meditation is that it can shift your habitual emotional response style, so you feel calmer over time, and are less reactive toward the stressors you face. Meditation is easier for some people than it is for others, so it helps to try a few different types of meditation until you find a meditation style that fits best for you. Also, bear in mind that consistency is key--if you practice for approximately 20 minutes each day, you will see more benefits than if you practice for 60 minutes every three days. The length of time you have been practicing is significant as well; monks who have meditated daily for years tend to have a very different type of reaction to stress than those who have been meditating for a few weeks, and those who have practiced for a few weeks are already at an advantage. Here is a nice basic meditation to get you started.
JournalingWriting your feelings in a journal (or document on your computer, note on your tablet, or scrap of paper in your house) can bring lasting benefits for stress as well. Journaling allows you to process your feelings, brainstorm solutions, and bring yourself into a more positive frame of mind. Maintaining this habit can take 10 minutes a day or an hour, and can help you feel less stressed as you go. Here are some tips for getting started with journaling.
More Resources On Stress ManagementThis site offers a wealth of stress management resources. To get started exploring them, I recommend the following:
- What Type Of Personality Do You Have? These quizzes can give you personalized stress tips based on who you are, and can be fun to take as well!
- Stress Management Weekly Newsletter Find research and tips for stress management twice a week, delivered to your inbox for free.
- Facebook Page: About.com Stress Management Find stress relief on your wall by "liking" our Facebook page. You'll find research, articles, and inspirational quotes on stress.