Stress is such a part of our daily lives, that you probably already have a few ways of handling it. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and breathing exercises are all common methods that people use to help relieve stress. These can be great strategies, but they’re far from the only ways to soothe an anxious mind. In fact, there are many off-beat methods that you may not have heard of!
Here we tackle five unexpected ways to help reduce stress.
- Talk about money with your spouse
Money is a thorny topic for many people. Financial arguments are one of the leading causes of stress in relationships and a strong predictor of divorce. But is avoiding these conversations the way to go?
One survey found that people who openly talk about their finances are generally less worried about them. They’re also more likely to actively manage their money, which may help them avoid future financial stress caused by issues like having too little insurance cover or falling into debt. This survey also found that couples who talk about money matters together rarely fight about their finances, where as couples who refuse to talk about them tend to fight more.
- Take a break from technology
Our world is more connected than ever. Email, texts, social media and apps mean we can stay connected from almost anywhere. We also have access to a constant stream of news, gossip and entertainment 24 hours a day. While this can be a good thing, it might also be overwhelming and stressful.
A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that social media causes more stress than it relieves, especially for women. Other studies have found that high use of social media can contribute to poor mental health and even depression. Plus, screens may also interfere with our sleep, which could impact stress levels. Limiting your technology use could give your brain a break from all this noise and a chance to check in on your mood and mental wellbeing.
- Do a chore mindfully
Mindfulness is one way to help relieve stress. This form of meditation is done by paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, senses and the environment around you in a given moment. It’s been shown to help with relaxation and reducing stress, and you can practice it just about anywhere.
Instead of rushing through your chores or distracting yourself with music, television or a podcast, practice mindfulness the next time you wash dishes, do laundry or work in the garden. Focus on things like the temperature of the water, how you’re folding each piece of clothing or the sounds of nature. Concentrating on these small bits of information may push other worries or stressful thoughts from your mind and give you a greater appreciation for the world around you.
- Start saying no
Saying “no” is difficult for a lot of people. We naturally want to help others, be supportive and seen as a positive person. It sometimes feels easier to say yes and avoid the guilt of saying no. However, it’s important to remember that sometimes saying no is perfectly OK.
Being too generous with your yeses could be stressful. You may overcommit your time, spending the afternoon or weekend running errands, visiting friends or making appearances at events you’d rather not attend. This could also put a strain on your finances, especially if you make promises that stretch your budget too far. An occasional “no” could help you avoid stress, giving you time to focus on your own wellbeing.
- Reframe how you think about stress
It’s impossible to rid our lives of stress entirely, but we may not need to. The way we think about stress could be enough to help lessen its impact on our health and wellbeing. In fact, reframing how you think about stress could even be good for you.
According to researcher Kelly McGonigal, people who experience a lot of stress and also believe that it is harmful to their health are more likely to die prematurely than people who experience stress but believe that it can be good for them. Instead of viewing stress as a bad thing, it may pay to think of it as a benefit. A pounding heart means more oxygen is getting to your brain, preparing you for action. You may find it easier to focus on solutions to problems or feel motivated to reach out for a helping hand, all because you’re feeling some stress!
Having many strategies for dealing with stress could be beneficial to our minds and bodies. No matter where you are, there’s probably a way to help lessen the worries and anxiety you’re experiencing. Whether that’s talking to your spouse, getting some exercise or leaning to prioritise your own wellbeing, how you handle stress could help you lead a happier and healthier life.