Dealing with Stress in Healthy Ways

Stress Getting Overwhelming?

Life throws a lot at us, right? Work deadlines, money worries, family demands. Before you know it, anxiety has you wound up tight. It's easy to get stuck reacting to constant stressors in unhealthy ways, whether living in fight-or flight hyperdrive, numbing out via bad habits, or just straight up exhaustion. But here’s the good news – you can take back control and deal with pressure in more sustainable, self-caring ways. Let’s break it down...

Get Active to Release Tension

Here's an easy first step -- get moving more! I know you've got a packed schedule already. But just 30 minutes a day of heart-pumping physical activity can work wonders on both the body and mind. 


Aerobic exercise releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins and neurotransmitters that usher tension out of the nervous system. It also prompts growth of new brain cells and connections to better manage stress long-term. 

Plus getting your sweat on increases circulation, delivering much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the tissues to keep you functioning at peak condition.

Any moderately intense activity counts here – walking, cycling, dance classes, gardening, playing tag with your kids. Choose aerobic workouts you genuinely enjoy as you’ll be way more likely to stick with them. 

To maximize stress relief benefits, schedule sweat sessions first thing upon rising. Getting in that morning movement sets you up to handle whatever the day throws at you with centered calm, focus and vitality. 

Of course if mornings are super tight, just fit activity breaks in when you reasonably can. The key is consistency, even starting small with 10-15 minutes at a time. Moving your body daily changes brain structure so you stay cool and collected when pressures mount. It’s an incredible mental and physical stress resilience strategy that pays dividends for life.

Fuel Your Body Right

What we fuel our body with has huge impact on inner balance and stress levels too. Slamming refined sugar, alcohol, greasy junk foods or 3pm XL lattes for quick energy may feel good briefly. But soon enough you crash as blood sugar spikes then plummets, dehydration kicks in, inflammation flares...wham, mood tanks and stress goes haywire again.

Instead, focus on quality whole food nutrients that keep energy and positivity high: hearty veggies, fiber-rich fruits and grains, sustainably-caught fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils. Cold water fatty fish, nuts and seeds in particular contain anti-inflammatory, nerve-supportive Omega-3s shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Leafy greens provide calming minerals like magnesium. Fermented foods boast gut-friendly probiotics which positively impact brain health and stress reactions. 

Oh and stay super hydrated with refreshing water all day...skip sugar/chemical-laden drinks that can heighten the stress response.

The combo of balanced nutrients from less-processed fare plus optimized hydration keeps your system functioning smoothly so you better tolerate and rebound from strain and tension. Added perk - preparing home-cooked minimally processed meals also promotes mindfulness, self-care and healthy routine when life feels chaotic.

Declutter Your Space

Besides fueling your body right, take a look at your living environment too. Cluttered messy surroundings, deluges of paper piles, nonstop digital distraction all compound feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed for sure.

Start simplifying your home’s energy by decluttering deeply. Donate, recycle or reuse non-essentials so you’re left with only items loved or used daily. Give everything left a dedicated spot – on shelves, in drawers, baskets...organized by frequency of use for easy access. Maintain the order by putting items back promptly after using. Display special meaningful decor like plants, photos or art that spark inspiration.

Aim to have respective places for incoming paper, mail, keys and devices too to minimize misplaced items driving you bonkers. Streamline bills into digital payments where possible for clutter-free convenience. Same for switching magazine subscriptions online.

Jot daily/weekly tasks and appointments into planners or apps to psychologically declutter obligations floating in your headspace too. Break bigger goals into bite-sized action steps. Cross completed items off...ahhh satisfying! Schedule in free blocks of me-time amid other commitments as well. Carving out islands of calm really helps recharge your batteries to swifter bounce back from pressures piling on.

When your environment is soothingly organized externally, it profoundly shifts internal restlessness and anxiety too. Outer order creates inner stillness.

Breathe Stress Away

And let’s not forget your built-in destressor tool available 24/7...your breath! In today’s frazzled culture, we frequently operate in shallow chest breathing survival mode. Stressful events trigger chain reactions keeping us hypervigilant with muscles tensed for action.

Thankfully you can short-circuit the stress response consciously by carving out brief breathing breaks to invoke the Relaxation Response – lowered respiratory rates, dilated blood vessels, loose muscles, reduced blood pressure, slower brainwaves.

Find a comfortable seated position. Inhale slowly and deeply allowing breath to fill chest then belly. Exhale slowly for twice the length of your inhale, deflating your lungs fully. Repeat for at least 10 rounds, setting aside all other thoughts.

That’s it! This simple pattern of long exhalations following inhalations prompts your nervous system to chill out, move out of frantic fight-flight-freeze gears into parasympathetic “rest and digest”. Think of it as manually overriding runaway stress reactions.

Once you get the hang of it, start taking “tiny breaths” – quick pauses for few seconds of deep inhale/slow exhales – when feeling mad, anxious or overwhelmed throughout daily activities. This builds emotional resiliency / stress hardiness to better cope with any curveballs flung your way.

The goal here is gradually reshaping lifestyle fundamentals to deal with pressures from a calmer, centered place. None of us are immune to getting stressed or anxious sometimes – such is life. But with mindfulness tune-ups, you’ll have the tools to meet each moment with tranquility, wisdom and grace.