The word ‘stress’ has become synonymous with being busy. Stress manages to surreptitiously sneak into every aspect of our lives—jobs, relationships, responsibilities, finances, health among others. As we find ourselves constantly running on the hamster wheel, the probability of living a stress-free life stands at an all-time low. As soon as something goes wrong, stress takes hold of our emotions, leaving us frustrated, angry, and anxious. We feel powerless and overwhelmed as our minds switch from one coping mechanism to another.
The more you give in to stress, the more it affects you. Stress reduces the ability to think rationally and function effectively. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to a research led by Sheldon Cohen, Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, “Stress is associated with greater risk for depression, heart disease, and infectious diseases.”
What’s worse, stress can wreak havoc even when there’s no reason to get tensed. When you buy a house, start a new job, or marry the love of your life, you could easily feel stressed thinking about the future or second-guessing your decision.
The good news is you can learn to lead a stress-free life, and one of the easiest ways is by practicing a self-care routine. Doing so can keep you stress-free and emotionally healthy. You will be able to deal with challenges with optimism and rationality. Not only does self-care protect your emotions, but it also keeps illnesses such as heart disease at bay.
So, what are the self-care techniques that can help you fight stress, stay healthy and live a stress-free life? Let’s take a look.
Your body and mind have a unique connection. If one is in good shape, the other remains healthy too. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine in your brain and you feel happy. According to a study, regular exercise can significantly improve your mood and energy. And when your mind is filled with positivity, it leaves no room for stress.
Don’t confuse daily exercise with lifting weights at a gym. Even a brisk walk, jogging, cycling, or swimming can help you stay active and stress-free. In the end, what matters is finding and pursuing a physical activity that you enjoy.
Breaking the monotony
If your life looks the same every day, you become prone to restlessness and stress. Try to introduce a change in your daily routine. This change will not only break the monotony, but also boost creativity and productivity. If it’s a long day, take regular breaks—soak up some sun, read a chapter from a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for too long, or listen to your favourite music. Such activities refuel your mind and prepare it for the rest of the day. So, whenever you feel emotionally exhausted or stressed, do something spontaneous and positive to shift your mind to a different frequency.
Adopting an abundance mindset
Author Stephen Covey coined the term ‘abundance mindset’ in his bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. According to him, an abundance mindset is a concept where a person believes there are enough resources to share with everyone. Adopting such a mindset is an important self-care routine as it allows you to see limitless opportunities in life. An abundance mindset can help you create meaningful life experiences and also carve a stress-free life.
The Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” So, when you think positively, your outlook becomes positive. You express gratitude even when situations are tough. Such a mindset can be cultivated by surrounding yourself with those with the same attitude. Spend time with people who have an abundance mindset and learn to become empowered and engaged while keeping stress at bay.
Adopting a healthy diet
Your diet is a major part of your self-care routine. Eat the kinds of food that make you feel energetic and strong. A healthy diet can lower the impact of stress by boosting your immune system. Think of it as fuel for your body. Keep in mind, the food you consume has a direct effect on your mood and energy levels. Incorporating a nutritious food prep chart in your daily or weekly routine can help improve your overall diet and manage stress better.
Getting enough sleep
It can’t be emphasised enough that sleep deprivation can lead to a myriad of health issues—both mental and physical. Consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep can affect your memory and ability to concentrate. The National Sleep Foundation guidelines suggest that healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. A good night’s sleep strengthens the mind, rejuvenates the body and reduces stress. So, do not compromise on your sleep if you want to tackle the day’s stress more easily.
Learning to say ‘no’
Saying ‘no’ is a self-care routine that many struggle to abide by. Believe it or not, this simple two-letter word wields immense power. It can save you from stress and emotional exhaustion, which can result from you saying ‘yes’ to everything. For instance, saying ‘yes’ to doing a favour that is beyond your ability or comfort can be a major stress inducer. Similarly, agreeing to a social commitment to save yourself from guilt can lead to stressful situations later. By saying ‘yes’ to things you don’t want to do—out of guilt or embarrassment—you are welcoming stress with open arms.
Learn to say no based on your values and priorities. It may not come naturally at first, but with confidence and a resolution to live a stress-free life, you can easily wield the power of a simple ‘no’.
Meditating to clear your mind
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. It nourishes your mind and body, which in turn allows you to focus on what really matters. When you meditate, you gain the ability to regulate your thoughts and control your emotions better. You can go for a meditation routine that works the best for you, like relaxation meditation to relax your body, or mindfulness meditation to find your focus. The important thing is to meditate daily. By doing so, stress not only remains out of your mind, but also out of your life.