28 things you can do to handle stress!

traffic-jam-in-kampala
Traffic jams do cause stress. A scene from Kampala, Uganda. (credits: unknown)

The world is evolving so much before our eyes in every sphere of life. This is exciting and has created amazing breakthroughs through technology. You can now have the world in your palms (literally), through digital devices like smart phones. However this has also heightened stress levels all over the world. Apparently, I’m told not many Africans can really identify what stress is or even know the devastating effects it can have on their lives. As someone who has endured a stressful life over the past two years, I thought it would be great to write about it and share fun ways to combat it.

Stress has been defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances (things like worry or anxiety). And according to the Merriam Webster stress is a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Some of the health complications that can result from stress include, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases, reproductive issues and sleep problems. Consequently, stress can also lead to alcoholism, obesity, cigarette use, drug addiction, depression and many other harmful behaviours.

With that in mind, here is a list of 28 things you can do to handle stress. Some of these activities can be spread out over a long period of time and some of them can be done immediately to alleviate some of the tension the body feels.

  1. Learn to say no. You do not have to do everything or help everyone or attend every function.
  2. If you have a gift or talent, use it. Say for instance, you are a great cook, make something to share with others or if you are a great singer, join a band or a choir!
  3. Smile… and let it be genuine! Endorphins are released in the body making you feel happier and less stressed. and your smile will brighten up someone’s day.

    ifrcsierraleone_smile_main1
    Share a smile. (credits: IFRC.org)
  4. Visit your loved ones or your family. You can do this in batches… make a monthly or annual plan of who gets visited when. This also helps to boost your support system.
  5. Visit a baby’s home to volunteer. The laughter and joy that babies have will lift your spirits.

    african-babies-pinterest-copy
    Spending time with babies is a sure way to de-stress. (credits: african babies on pinterest)
  6. Take a 30 minutes walk. This works immediately and all the time!
  7. Dance. You can go to a club or dance party or simply turn on the music in your house and shake that body.
  8. Call up an old friend to chat and laugh or simply to check on them.
  9. Make a random visit to the elderly. It could be at a senior home or it could be relatives. Spending time with them will destress you and will also make them feel valued. Besides there’s a lot to learn from the wisdom they’ve accumulated over the years as they tell you stories.
  10. Jog. Nothing is as de-stressing as good old body exercise.
  11. Cook a scrumptious meal or take time to learn to do that.
  12. Clean out the house or your room and give out any items you don’t really need or use.
  13. Create me time. Make yourself a priority, invest in yourself…reflect on your life.
  14. Get a body massage. This relaxes the body muscles and improves circulation.
  15. Hug someone. This releases oxytocin in the body which promotes the ‘feel good’ feeling that has a calming effect on the body. It’s a win-win situation.
  16. Spend a couple of hours at the orphanage. This will bring perspective back into your life. You never know which child’s life you will impact!
  17. Laugh at yourself. Don’t be too serious! You’ll look back one day and realise it was all worth a laugh.
  18. Set achievable goals and work towards achieving each one.
  19. Set priorities. This reduces the overwhelming feeling that can creep over you if there’s too much that needs to be done in a short while.
  20. Write a letter to yourself. This gives you insight and helps to breed a spirit of gratitude. Sometimes stress is heightened by the inability to be grateful.
  21. Do 40 star jumps and 10 sit-ups. In the middle of a stressful project, gets the blood circulating and renews your energy.
  22. Drive out of town… go sightseeing.

    stockfootage-com
    There’s something refreshing about a long drive out of town. (credits: stockfootage.com)
  23. Pray. Some people like to call it meditation…
  24. Play with a ball or a stress ball. Sounds easy but works all the time.
  25. Listen to soft soothing music.
  26. Listen to others. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we do not take time to think about those around us. A listening ear will go a long way in de-stressing you and the talker.
  27. Write a journal. It’s instrumental in helping you clarify your thoughts, understand yourself better and will give you perspective on life.
  28. Eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water. This has been tested and proven! Go slow on the junk.

That’s my personal compilation and there are many more ways to combat and manage stress! Please feel free to add more practical ways in the comments below!

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