12 Ways to Reduce Stress

By: Sarah Gerbig (Follow on Instagram)

Life is stressful. Exams are coming up, final papers are due, you're always late for work, your rents want you to take an advanced course next semester, you need to volunteer more, your college applications are due, and your best friends are begging you to join the yearbook committee even though you're already on the volleyball team and the cheerleading squad.....

We live insanely stressful lives and we hate to admit it, but it's killing us.

Stress is our bodies way of reacting to life. Certain stresses are good for you and essential for living, but others are dragging you down and take a toll on your health. Bad stress can actually lead to severe headaches, upset stomach, sleeping problems, elevated blood pressure and chest pains. Ouch! Even worse, if left unrelieved, stress can lead to serious health issues such as depression, eating disorders, heart disease and stroke.

Stress may feel overwhelming at times, but there are many strategies to help you overcome it.

Here are 12 great ways to reduce stress:

1. Let it go! Start off by identifying your stressors a.k.a figure out what is causing you to sometimes lose-your-cool. Once you can narrow it down, identify the unnecessary stresses in your life and get rid of them. Take a page out of the Elsa's handbook and let it go!

2. Learn to say NO. You may feel obligated to make everyone happy by doing like a million things at once, but the truth is, you really don't. You are soooo much more important than the satisfaction of others. Just do you!

3. Stay away from second-hand stress. Most don't realize it, but stress is very contagious. If you expose yourself to people who are stressed out 24/7, you're probably going to feel stressed as well. So do yourself a favour and avoid these people like the common cold.

4. Spring cleaning. There's a little hoarder inside of everybody. Throw out the clutter that you could easily live without and organize everything else so that it's easy to find. If you know where everything is, then you're less likely to stress over it in the future.

5. Plan your day the night before. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to figure what needs and what should be done. Determine which of these things is totally unnecessary; if your daily schedule is too action-packed, you're probably going to increase your stress.

6. Work it Out! If you're feeling overwhelmed, the best way to calm down may be to sweat it out. Exercising, as we all know, is great for your health, but it's also a proven stress-reliever. Any form of exercise can help relieve stress whether you're athletic or not. So hit the gym, the court or the treadmill; do whatever you need to do to feel better.

7. Chillax! Sit back, relax and forget about the world around you. Relaxation is all about cleansing your life of its stresses. Try having a spa day complete with a massage, facial and pedicure; there's no better feeling than being pampered. You could also read a book, light some candles, take a bubble bath or watch the sunset. Take the time to do what makes your soul happy!

8. Become a Yogi. I'm not talking about the cartoon bear here; try some light yoga either in the morning to start the day off relaxed, or after a long day of work. Yoga is a great way to reduce stress, relieve muscle tension, and rejuvenate your mind and body (plus it's a great way to exercise).

9. Learn to Love Tea. Have a glass of tea every single night before bed. This gives you a chance to unwind from your busy life and enjoy the little things. They say that the most calming teas are chamomile and green tea, but personally I find something extremely soothing about sitting down with any warm cup of tea. (Tip: Stay away from the caffeinated teas before bed)

10. Laugh (way) more. Whether you like to watch Family Guy, go out with friends or attend a stand-up comedy show; do what makes you laugh and do it more often. I promise you that life is truly better when you're happy.

11. Use your Loved Ones! A great way to combat stress is to match it with strong social support. Your friends and family love you for you, and they'll always be there to listen. They're like your high school guidance counsellors that you're actually comfortable talking to.

12. Sleep is the best meditation. Dalai Lama was right; sleep allows your brain to process all the information it retained throughout the day. By getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, not only will you reduce stress but you'll also improve your memory, lose weight, increase muscle mass, strengthen your immune system, widen life expectancy and better your mood. You definitely owe it to yourself to catch some quality Z's. 

Feeling stressed is pretty much inevitable in our world; but how much stress you endure and how you react to it, is completely up to you!

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