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De-Stress Toolkit


Stress sucks. Our heart, lungs, and muscles work overtime, it’s hard to concentrate or relax, and when left to fester, stress becomes chronic stress which contributes to long-term health problems.


Everyone could benefit from some more strategies to manage the stress in their lives. Here’s a list of some strategies to add to your de-stress toolkit.


Like a real toolkit, these aren’t designed to be used all at the same time. Use the one that works best for the situation and keep the rest for a different time when you’re stressed.


Take care of your body

Sleep, hydration, diet, and exercise are crucial to managing stress.

If you don’t give your body what it needs, it will make sure that you feel its pain.

Paying attention to your sleep and exercise is especially important.


Poor sleep is linked to higher stress levels, and the effects of sleep deprivation can hinder our ability to tackle the stressors in our lives. Being sleep deprived can leave you feeling irritable, overwhelmed, and lacking in motivation—none of which are helpful when you have an essay due tomorrow or need to study for a test. If you’re only sleeping for around four hours, don’t feel like you need to suddenly start sleeping the full ten. Instead, try to add another hour or a half hour to your sleep schedule each night. Eventually you’ll reach the amount of sleep you need and be in a better state to manage stressors.


Exercise lowers stress levels. You don’t need to hit the gym for an hour every day or do a hundred pushups if that isn’t feasible for you. Anything is better than nothing, so if you don’t exercise at all or very sparingly, consider working thirty minutes of physical activity into your routine. While the idea of spending time exercising when we could be working on our stressors may seem a little backwards, taking time to care for yourself will leave you in a better state to be able to deal with that stress which will help you get more done.


Crisis workouts

Whether it’s a brisk walk or a dead sprint, brief, intense exercise can activate your parasympathetic nervous system—the system that works to undo your stress response and get you back to a healthy state of mind. It’s certainly not what one would picture when they think of managing stress, but it works wonders—especially when it feels like everything is happening all at once.


Your stress response was made for short, intense physical activity; it was made for you to either fight off a bear or sprint away from it and then calm down afterwards. Doing some quick exercise signals to your body that the threat is gone and it’s time to turn off your fight or flight.


Note: If you don’t have the space to walk or sprint somewhere then you can substitute with some form of high knees or even punching the air. All that matters is that you are some amount of exhausted afterwards and that you don’t get injured.


Ground yourself

Stress can take a major toll on everyone’s emotional well being. These emotions can make it hard to focus and lead to individuals procrastinating or lashing out at those around them—both of which serve to compound the negative emotions and stress. All hope is not lost though, you can use grounding strategies to help pull you out of your emotions and into the present moment.


Grounding strategies involve fully engaging with some activity that you are doing. The WHO recommends you do this with a glass of some drink. Before you drink it, look closely at the drink in the glass and notice its appearance and color. Take a sip of it, feel the drink on your tongue and savor the flavor. After a second, swallow the drink and pay attention to the taste of the drink slowly fading then repeat the process. This exercise seems a little silly, and in truth it kinda is, but if you truly give your full attention to the exercise, you’ll find that your focus has been pulled away from your negative emotions and stressors and instead into the present moment and the world around you. The negative emotions and stressors will still be there, but you’ll be in a considerably better state to actually do the work required to lessen those stressors and emotions.


If you're interested in other ways to manage your stress, I would highly recommend you check out the rest of the WHO's advice in their "Doing What Matters in Times of Stress" illustrated guidebook.


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Really Good Idea! And I really like how useful your pictures are within the article.

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