Six Ways to Manage Stress
Six Ways to Manage Stress
Stress is stressful—here are a few ways to manage it.
The casual saying “don’t stress” seems like a relic of the past. No one’s going to try and tell you not to be stressed these days. We’re experiencing it from all directions. The news, social media, work emails, homeschooling, dishes, etc.. If we’re honest about what stress does to the body, it’s something worth stressing about—like a snake eating its tail. At one point in our human evolution, stress was a useful tool. It triggered the “fight or flight” mode, elevated your heart rate, sped up your breath, and prepared your muscles to react to any present danger. Stress is designed to protect your body in an emergency. In many ways, life was more challenging back then. Your body’s stress reaction might be because of a predator in the wild. These days, stress can be a near-constant part of our lives if we don’t manage it. The health implications of steady stress levels take a toll on nearly every system in our body, namely cardiovascular health, respiratory health, weight management, sex drive, depression, and immune system.
It’s these bodily responses that make it vital to be proactive about your health, including stress management— and in honor of not adding anything else to your to-do list (we don’t wanna stress you out), here five ways you can be proactive about stress management:
Move your body, even if it’s just for a minute.
Moving your body increases blood flow to the brain and heart, which helps metabolize excess stress hormones and restore your body’s balance. Not only that, but the increase of blood flow can help you clear your mind and potentially view your day from a new perspective. You don’t have to run 10 miles to experience the benefits of exercise; go for a brisk walk around the block, stretch, or do a few jumping jacks! Remember, you gotta get up, so you don’t get down.
Put a few relaxation tools into practice.
Fight or flight is essentially a biological response to mortal danger. Chances are you’re not in mortal danger when you’re stressed these days; you’re probably in traffic or hosting your in-laws or quarantine with your partner and kids. To remind the body that this isn’t a life or death situation, you can take a few deep breaths that follow the 4x4 rule, inhale and count to four, exhale and count to four. Another great technique is to look around the space you are in and speak out loud five things that you see. The key is to slow your body down and remind it that your reality is intact, and you’re safe.
Practice healthy boundaries.
Boundaries can be as simple as learning to say “no”. Contrary to popular belief, “no” is not the opposite of yes. A healthy no is a yes to something else you feel you need—and that’s a beautiful and rewarding thing to practice when you’re doing your damn best to live a balanced life. When your first reaction is to say “no”, think about saying or at least thinking, “yes, and…” It may seem small and nuanced, but the reaction that it solicits can be way different than simply saying “no”. Try it and see it work.
Sleep it off, friend.
Sweet, sweet sleep—it’s more than just an excuse to change into your stretchiest clothes and kiss the day away. It’s the most vital part of health maintenance. Many studies say it’s more essential than diet, exercise, and genetics. Quality sleep is where our brain and body heals itself. When we close our eyes and power off the chatter of being a human, the body’s neurons have a chance to repair themselves. Without proper sleep, neurons become so polluted and drained from normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. Rest provides cells with increased protein.
Eat like you care.
A balanced, nutrient-dense diet does so many beneficial things for our health. It helps our body function on a cellular level, improves brain function, shores up immune function, lowers blood pressure, and reduces toxins in the body. Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline in the body, and proper nutrition plays a crucial role in processing and clearing those stress chemicals from our body.
Try not to stress about reducing your stress.
When it comes down to it, we’re all just trying to keep our shit t together, and that can be a stressful pursuit. Ironically, the ability to keep our shit together as far as our health and happiness go requires us to hone in on stress management. That means the very act of taking care of ourselves shouldn’t be yet another chore on our to-do list. Fx Chocolate exists for exactly this reason, to provide you with a source of health and wellness that you can actually look forward to.
Life is full of literal and metaphorical “traffic jams”. While we’re out here just trying to thrive and survive, life is sending us email notifications, in-law visits, homeschool responsibilities, major global events—oh and we can’t forget the 24-hour news cycle. When things outside of our control start to impact our health, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take control of what you can control. Lean on useful wellness tools to help keep your head above water and a smile, even if it’s small, on your face.