[A collaborative post – This article was originally published in April 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.]
Have you been feeling down lately? What do you do to reduce stress?
Stress is a normal part of our human experience. We’re always trying to find ways to reduce stress in our lives – whether it’s from working, studying, or family.
Stress can be triggered by trivial matters and by major life crises. It also builds up gradually when you have more things to do than the time in which to do them. It can leave us feeling sick, or even in pain – and finding ways to reduce stress is crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I know some people encounter more stressful events than others. And the way we perceive and react to stress is often more significant than the amount we face.
There is no need for anyone to suffer from the kind of stress overload that results in health problems. In fact, there are many practical ways to reduce stress. Here are some suggestions from myself. They won’t all work for you, but all you need to find is a few new ones you haven’t already thought of yourself.
I spent the first week of April with a marathon watching the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter is one of my lifetime favorite series along with The Lord of the Rings.
During university life, I got a lot of stress spending my month writing essays. One of the best ways to reduce stress during that time was by watching horror or action movies. I’m not really sure but the thrill of watching horror can reduce my stress.
If you like to watch movies or series, it could be a great way to reduce stress from working or studying.
I had a bad habit of sleeping time before and it really affected my daily activities. My mood even got worse when I just woke up. That’s truly my old habit.
After working at home, I do my best to have at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Taking short naps (no longer than 30 minutes) also can reenergize yourself during the day.
Play with a Pet
In 2016, a survey of 2,000 pet owners, conducted by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) revealed 74% of them experienced mental health improvements from owning a pet. Alongside providing a form of therapy, owning a pet can add a level of structure, routine, as well as additional exercise to your lifestyle, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
For me, hanging out with my dog after a stressful event greatly reduces my cortisol levels and possibly buffers the impact of the event.
When I know my brain needs rest, I like playing games to reduce my stress. Instead of my playing it on my phone, I use my computer because I won’t be too addicted. Once I found a game that I like, I keep playing it every day on my phone and I know for sure it’ll disturb my work.
So, rather than installing games on my phone, I play free online video games on my computer. That’s really fun!
The good thing when playing online games is that the website offers you a collection of dozens of fun games you can choose from. If you want to train your brain to stay focused, you can play simulation games like Tap Supermarket (I had a lot of fun when playing this!).
And as someone who spent a lot of typing, I also like to practice my typing skill so I choose typing games. Their games are fun and quite addictive. See my score below!
Take a walk
According to research psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., the author of The Joy of Movement, incorporating a little nature every day is beneficial to managing your stress levels. Depending on how you’re social distancing, getting to a park every day may not be easy, but even a short daily walk outside (hello vitamin D!) would suffice and help you clear your head.
Connect with nature in your backyard. Exposure to nature is proven to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
I usually walk with my dog every evening and it does help to reduce stress after working and sitting in front of the computer the whole day.
Hang out with ‘positive’ friends
As an ambivert, some people who just know me sometimes get confused with my personality. Actually, it’s easy for me to make friends because once I get comfortable I’ll talk a lot – but, at the same time, I also like to enjoy the atmosphere and unconsciously prefer listening to talking. When people find out that I didn’t talk at all, they get confused and think that I have something on my mind.
I just prefer to have a few friends with a positive mindset (who can be my motivator) than having a lot of friends who don’t align with my personality. Having friends who can listen to your problems or just have a small talk is very important. Not everyone can be a good listener.
I have one close friend, we met during my university life and it’s been 9 years. I feel comfortable when talking about my problems with her – we also have the same lifestyle (ordinary life of single girls lol) so I like to hang out with her.
Visit your favorite places
I have three favorite places: coffee shops, bookstores, and beaches. I like to visit zoos as well. When I feel that my stress has built up, I will schedule a time to visit the coffee shop or some nearby tourist spots.
The important thing to remember is, when you’re feeling stressed, remind yourself that it’s normal — acknowledge and embrace what you’re feeling then, you can turn to one or more of the tips above. You also don’t have to wait to feel stressed to incorporate the tips above. Practicing even one of them prior to feeling stress can help to keep stress at bay before it occurs.