50 Ways to Deal with Stress

April 18, 2011

I’m Kim.
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Ah, stress. Who isn’t stressed out these days? It seems like we’reall suffering time starvation, stretched between too many obligations. There’s work, family, school, dentist appointments…and all those pesky bills that keep arriving.

So. How bad is stress for us, exactly?


Thing is, short term stress isn’t inherently harmful. It’s important for our bodies and brains to have the ability to ramp-up and deal with things thrown our way, after all. It’s unrelenting stress that’s a problem. Chronic stress does all sorts of nasty things to our health: from increasing blood sugar and cholesterol to causing headaches and depression, messing with our sleep, and even aging us faster.

Not cool.

So what’s a person to do? To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of stress-busting tips. Some of them are short-term quick fixes; others are more long-term strategies. A combo of both is the best approach to coping with stress.

  1. Practice saying no (resist taking on more responsibilities)
  2. Get back to basics: make sure you’re getting sufficient sleep
  3. Have a spinach salad (the magnesium in spinach helps regulate cortisol)
  4. Simplify and prioritize
  5. Practice yoga (ideally on a regular basis)
  6. Eat salmon (omega-3 helps with stress hormone surges)
  7. Spoil yourself with a manicure
  8. Focus on breathing
  9. Don’t skip breakfast (missing meals tells your body it’s starving, so it releases stress hormones)
  10. Nurture your spirit with nature (go for a hike in the woods) 
  11. Listen to classical music
  12. Treat yourself to a massage
  13. Meditate
  14. Restructure your work schedule
  15. Make a habit of having a light bedtime snack of complex carbs
  16. Sing
  17. Drink tea, green or black (shown to decrease cortisol levels)
  18. Clean the clutter around you
  19. Lean on your support network
  20. Talk to your doctor
  21. Eat walnuts regularly (shown to decrease blood pressure during stressful events)
  22. Laugh (watch a comedy, or go out with friends)
  23. Eat small, frequent meals (prevent sugar/insulin/cortisol surges)
  24. Prioritize: make a list of things to do, and color-code it
  25. Mow the lawn (the smell of fresh-cut grass helps block stress hormones)
  26. Cultivate a supportive social network
  27. Walk daily
  28. Drink milk before bed
  29. Consciously think positive & optimistic thoughts
  30. Play a musical instrument (just for fun…don’t burden yourself with performance stress/anxiety)
  31. Volunteer with a charity
  32. Engage  in “dreamscape” (peaceful visualization)
  33. Soak in a bubble bath
  34. Eat oatmeal (complex carbs help lower stress)
  35. Pet your dog
  36. Get to bed early
  37. Drink orange juice (vitamin C has been shown to decrease cortisol levels)
  38. Write in a journal
  39. Practice progressive muscle relaxation
  40. Go for a walk by a lake, a river, or the ocean
  41. Chew gum (a study showed this decreases stress, anxiety, and improves mental performance)
  42. Have sex
  43. Get some sunlight
  44. Cut back on caffeine
  45. Savor an avocado (potassium helps to lower your blood pressure)
  46. Explore your creative self: paint, draw, take photographs
  47. Take a “time out”
  48. Surround yourself with the scents of lavender or rosemary
  49. Focus on your immediate surroundings (practice mindfulness)
  50. Breathe

Stress? Bring it on.

A footnote: This is a big topic, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be revisiting the issue of stress repeatedly, so check back.

In the meantime, here’s some more reading on stress solutions:


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