As discussed in a previous post, short term stress isn’t bad for you. We don’t want to do away with stress completely, instead, we want to manage it. Stress enhances life, when triggered at the right times. Do you have a tight deadline? Stress helps you tunnel in on getting your work done on time. The problem occurs when our stress light switch never turns off. When you can’t stop worrying about your day while you’re trying to fall asleep. This list helps you control your internal light switch, to enhance your wellbeing.

1. Breathwork

Controlling your breath is one of the quickest ways to alter your stress response. If you want to increase your stress response, make quicker, more forceful inhales. If you want to decrease your stress response, make your exhales 2x longer than your inhales. 

2. Night Time Rituals & Sleep Quality

Create a system of habits to signal to your body that it’s time to relax and rest, 1 hour before bed each day. There are many different ways to tap into this including: journaling, reading, light yoga, meditation, calming breathwork, or a warm bath. Avoid any screen time, as this signals to your brain to remain alert, even with blue blocking glasses. 

3. Self Talk

How you think about stress matters. When you feel yourself getting revved up, avoid focusing on how anxious or overwhelmed you feel. Instead, focus on what those physiological changes are trying to do. Remind yourself that it’s helping you solve a problem, perform athletically, or focus on the task at hand. 

4. Exercise

Providing much more than stress management, this helps you respond to stress more effectively. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy, and stick to it. Avoid doing too much HIIT training or excessive rigorous activity, as this can lead to burnout. An indication that you’ve done too much is when you have a hard time staying awake immediately after exercise, and are frequently sore. Ideally, your workouts should leave you feeling refreshed and energized. 

5. Social Ties

If your social relationships are generally healthy, they help you emotionally regulate. Even as life gets hectic, make sure you’re scheduling in time with friends or family. In fact, the biggest risk factor of disease is low social ties. Not smoking, not fast food, but the quality of your relationships. 

Breathwork, sleep, self talk, exercise, and social ties help bring your stress response into balance, however, sometimes life challenges you more than expected. Know when to reach out to a psychologist, to receive further support. It’s your life, and it matters.