- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine.
Avoid, or at least reduce, your consumption of nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Therefore using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is not ultimately helpful.
Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress.
- Get More Sleep
Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.
You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
4. Try Relaxation Techniques
Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique. There are many tried and tested ways to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you.
For example, try self-hypnosis which is very easy and can be done anywhere, even at your desk or in the car. One very simple technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has a positive meaning to you. Words such as “calm” “love” and “peace” work well, or you could think of a self-affirming mantra such as “I deserve calm in my life” or “Grant me serenity”. Focus on your chosen word or phrase; if you find your mind has wandered or you become aware of intrusive thoughts entering your mind, simply disregard them and return your focus to the chosen word or phrase. If you find yourself becoming tense again later, simply silently repeat your word or phrase.
Don’t worry if you find it difficult to relax at first. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and will improve with practice.
5. Talk to Someone
Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful. Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it.
Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.
Here in the SMART Lab, we use the Heart math emWave system to monitor your body’s natural stress reaction and teach techniques to reduce your stress in the moment. Here are a couple articles from other professionals who use this technology as well:
Schedule an appointment at the SMART Lab today! http://meetme.so/smartlab
Our mission in the S.M.A.R.T. lab is to teach and research the efficacy of stress management and resiliency skills to our clients. We provide a number of coaching, computer mediated learning, and group activity services for this purpose.
The S.M.A.R.T. Lab is a partnership between the Student Wellness Office of OSU Student Life and the Counselor Education program which is part of the Department of Educational Studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology at OSU.
S.M.A.R.T Lab services are free for OSU enrolled students.