13 Ways to Control Stress

Learning different ways to control stress is essential to recovery from depression and keeping it away for good.

ways to control stress

Make a list of your primary stressors right now and a plan for how to manage them.

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Learning different ways to control stress is essential to recovery from depression and keeping it away for good. It’s important to make some “stress safeguards” a part of your daily life. These safeguards are specific ways you have found that work for you in dealing with chronic stress day in and day out.

We all have stress—to varying degrees. Some of it we can avoid, but much of it is a part of life. But it is the chronic stress that is not “handled” correctly that is devastating to our health. Decide which of these “stress safeguards” you can implement regularly:

#1. Identify and manage: You must determine what is stressing you out in the first place and then learn to manage those stressors. In some ways this may be the most important step, because ongoing chronic stressors that are not managed will continue to rob you of any chance to recover.

So, what are your sources of stress? Some stresses we cannot eliminate— teenage children or a stressful job that must be maintained are both sources that we must manage, not eliminate. But just acknowledging them as a stress source will be a first step in determining how to use these other suggested safeguards to manage them.

Hard decisions may need to be made because you’ll have to back away from some of the activities you enjoy. But if your plate is so full that the resulting stress keeps you from enjoying freedom from depression, it’s just not worth it. Make a list of your primary stressors right now and a plan for how to manage them.

#2. Learn to say “No”: This one is closely related to Safeguard #1 above but instead prevents over-commitments in the future. Always accommodating others by volunteering to help is a wonderful trait; however, we can easily become overwhelmed and fatigued if we do it too much. A good balance is needed. So, don’t be afraid to say no when your plate is already full.

#3. Aromatherapy: Using essential plant oils to improve your health and as a therapeutic practice is thousands of years old. Lavender is able to induce a feeling of calm and relaxation. Geranium brings down stress levels. You can make use of these aromatic oils for bringing down stress levels while you’re going about your work.

#4. Get sleep: It’s a vicious cycle—people who are tired from lack of sleep don’t react well to stressful situations and thus become more stressed. This chronic unresolved stress is often the cause of more insomnia.

Solving chronic insomnia is a challenge for many. Sleep medications don’t solve the underlying causes and have a host of side effects. What will often correct the underlying causes of your sleep problems is the when you work to balance your hormones and your neurotransmitters. You’ll be getting a double benefit—insomnia and depression relief—by dealing with these imbalances.

Try These Other Ways to Control Stress

#5. Music—calms the heartbeat and soothes the soul: Raymond Bahr, MD, a cardiologist at St. Agnes HealthCare in Baltimore, found that for his cardiac patients, listening to classical music for 30 minutes produced calming effects equivalent to a 10-mg dose of Valium—and without the side effects. Choose the kind of music that is soothing for you since each individual reacts differently to different sounds.

#6. Humor and sadness—express both! Humor and laughing out loud are among the most effective therapies for bringing down levels of anxiety and stress. A good laugh decreases cortisol levels, causes endorphins to rise and strengthens our immune system. But if you feel sadness, shame, or anger, honor those feelings by allowing yourself to experience them.

#7. Exercise regularly: Exercise releases pent-up frustrations, relaxes your muscles, releases endorphins—the “feel good” hormones, decreases stress hormones, and helps you sleep better. Make it a part of your everyday routine.

#8. Take periodic time-outs during the day: No one would expect a hockey player to play an entire game without taking breaks. Surprisingly, though, many otherwise rational people think nothing of working all day without taking intermissions, and then wonder why they eventually burn themselves out. Breaks will quickly pay themselves back in increased productivity and reduced stress.

#9. Balancing your work and your “down time”: This will not only keep your stress levels under control, it will build marital, family, and friend relationships which ultimately will bring contentment with life.

#10. Get away. Leisure is an elusive commodity for most people in today’s society. Statistics show that the average American is working an extra three hours per week compared with 20 years ago. That translates into an extra month of work each year. When was the last time you took a vacation or got away for a long weekend?

#11. Get a massage: A massage is very therapeutic and has been proven to lower cortisol, reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, relax muscles, aid in digestion, speed up the elimination of waste products, and help you sleep better.

#12. Decrease or eliminate caffeine: Caffeine is a strong stimulant that actually generates a stress reaction in the body. Try going for three weeks without caffeine and see what happens. Most people feel more relaxed, less jittery or nervous, sleep better, have more energy, less heartburn and fewer muscle aches. And drink some green tea instead: It contains a substance, L-theanine, that’s instantly calming.

#13. Pets—show some love: Induce the relaxation response by cuddling your pet. Studies have shown that physical contact—like petting your dog or cat—will help lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.

For other ways to control stress, purchase Natural Remedies for Depression at www.UniversityHeathNews.com.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC

Jami Cooley is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant as well as a Registered Nurse, but her interest in integrative medicine grew out of her experience in conventional medicine. Cooley … Read More

View all posts by Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC

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