4 Steps to Take Your Stress Level Down

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Stay at home father feeling stressed while baby sitting and trying to work while his small daughter is using his laptop.
Sometimes your stress level can catch you off guard. You might find yourself feeling anxious and not understand all the little things that have combined to spark your body’s response. For most people, feeling a little stress is a normal part of life. You might have a big deadline coming up for a work project, or maybe you’ve got a dentist appointment looming on your calendar and you’re worried about what the hygienist will find. There are days when family and other obligations stack up so quickly, it feels like a whirlwind.
Your body is equipped to deal with small doses of stress, and it can even be good for you, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you’re in a dangerous situation, stress can help you focus on survival. Other times, it can be a motivator, pushing you to meet that deadline or study better for a test.
But if stress becomes a long-term problem, it can spell trouble for your physical and mental health. Over time, chronic stress can play a part in serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
Learning how to reduce your stress level is an important skill, so here are some ways to feel less anxious.
Buddy up. Staying connected to people who are good for your emotional health can be difficult – something many of us discovered during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. But spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself, even if it’s just on a phone call, can make you feel more relaxed. If you can meet a friend for a meal outdoors or just for a quick walk, pencil it in, even if your schedule is busy. You’ll feel better afterward.
Exercise. Physical exercise can be a big stress-reliever. Whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood or downtown, or a heart-pumping session at the gym or with an online class, you’ll get some good cardio benefits and feel more relaxed afterward. Aim for at least 30 minutes of regular exercise each day. If you know you have a stressful day ahead, see if you can map out a few breaks for a walk, some stretching, even some deep breathing. Every little bit of movement will help.
Prioritize. Chances are, if you’ve got a packed to-do list for the day, not every single item on it really needs to be done right now. Learning to prioritize your work and other responsibilities can prevent a lot of stress before it happens. Start by taking a hard look at what you really need to accomplish, and what can be done another day – or delegated to someone else. If you find you have extra time in your day, you can always tackle something else.
Learn to say no. Get comfortable saying no to things that arise when you know they’ll add stress. So many stress triggers creep into our schedule from outside sources: A colleague who wants you to weigh in on their work right now, or a neighbor who asks if they can drop by and chat in the middle of your remote work day. If you feel like you are taking on too much, say no to things and get your schedule back in balance.
Photo credit: Getty

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