Developing your own self-care techniques to deal with stress is a vital skill. While it is important to learn to accept help from others, you should also be able to to engage in self-soothing behaviors. This can help to prevent codependency and giving you coping techniques for those times when no one is around to listen to you vent or give you a hand. Here are three important self-help techniques for stress relief.
1. Exercise has an enormous number of beneficial effects that will cut down on stress. First, it has the immediate effect of releasing endorphins and other chemicals that boost your mood. But exercise has longer-term effects as well. Studies have shown that people who exercise have lower stress responses to situations than people who do not. Exercise can also help you build an appetite and sleep better at night, and these are important because stress often prevents people from eating and creates insomnia.
Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, walking or cycling may be the best stress beater, but if none of those are possible, strength training can help as well. Exercise may also provide an opportunity for moving meditation, which leads into the second thing you can do to reduce stress.
2. Journaling or some form of meditation that includes self-affirmations can also be powerful tools in stress reduction. Self-affirmations are simply phrases you use to remind yourself of your strengths such as “I am strong and compassionate.” One study found that people who engaged in self-affirmations for as little as ten minutes two times per week showed significantly less stress than people who did not. Other studies have shown that people who engage in journaling may experience similar effects to those who speak with a therapist.
Some people may enjoy a formal meditation practice while others may be content to simply sit quietly for a few minutes several times per week. Self-affirmations can also be done while active or even during an activity like sitting on a bus during a commute.
3. The final step for stress relief comes from you. You know what your own rewards are and what relaxes you the most. The key is to avoid activities that directly tie into the source of your stress. For example, if you are struggling with money problems, an eating disorder or alcoholism, then shopping, food or wine should not be your stress reliever. Otherwise, here is where it is okay to indulge a little bit whether it is in your favorite chocolate or binge-watching your favorite TV show. In times of stress, we can sometimes forget to give ourselves small treats, luxuries and things to look forward to, and those things can significantly lower stress.