Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
How To Relieve Stress In 8 Simple Ways
Published Jul 2nd, 2020 & updated on May 22nd, 2021
Our constantly changing world is inevitably going to create stress. Let’s face it, whether it’s a demanding boss, a busy schedule, or a difficult relationship, the Earth can be a stressful place sometimes! What makes it even more challenging is that there’s no one perfect way to deal with it. Since everyone experiences and deals with stress in their own way, here’s how to relieve stress with 8 techniques recommended by psychologists!
Maybe you’re someone who needs to exercise, someone who needs to talk it out, or someone who just needs to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. All of these options are perfectly ok for dealing with stress. Unfortunately, it can be a lot of trial and error before you find a stress relief technique that works for you. We’ve got your back. To help you get started, we’ve researched 8 psychologist-recommended techniques for surviving stress:
1. Identify Your Stress At The Source
Knowing what makes you stressed can be monumental in finding out how to cope with it. Once you realize why you’re stressed, you’ll be able to recognize those triggers and apply healthy stress management strategies to tackle them. Don’t get us wrong, this can be difficult, but it can be life-changing in how you relieve your stress in the future.
Psychologists often recommend journaling therapy as a way to connect to yourself and clarify your thoughts and feelings. We wholeheartedly agree! Our DiveThru method is rooted in journaling therapy! Our guided journaling exercises are developed with the help of mental health professionals and will help you find the source of your stress. What do you need to get started? Your favourite pen, paper + the DiveThru app! It’s free to download, friends.
2. Get Some Rest
Difficulty sleeping is one of the most common symptoms of stress which is quite unfortunate considering sleep is just what you need to combat your stress.
Typical. If you have trouble falling asleep, try different techniques like putting your phone away before going to bed, listening to instrumental music, or adjusting your sleeping position. Psychologists recommend getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night in order to fully recharge. If that sounds like a stretch, that’s ok. Work your way up. Here are a few more strategies to get a better sleep, from our in-house mental health professional Natalie Asayag LCSW.
P.S. We know what you’re thinking and the answer is no. No, you can’t make up 4 hours of sleep with a venti iced coffee. Nice try though.
3. Try At-Home Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is all about identifying, challenging, and replacing thoughts. Using strategies like journaling, role-playing, and relaxation techniques, CBT aims to replace negative thoughts with more objective thoughts. CBT allows you to create healthy thinking patterns, which can then be applied to dealing with stress – like that growing pile of paperwork on your desk. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great option because it’s goal-oriented, but also super accessible and can be tailored just for you!
4. Slow Down
Do you ever feel like you’re playing Mario Kart and you’re going so fast and you keep slipping on banana peels and crashing into walls? ‘Cause same. The secret is to slow down. You’ll see the banana peels coming and you’ll be way more in control. When you’re stressed it often feels like you’re going 1000 miles/hour. Make a conscious effort to slow down and take things one step at a time by prioritizing your needs (and yourself). Check in with yourself by doing a self-massage, listening to relaxing music, or performing a body scan. With a more focussed approach, you’ll find yourself crossing the finish line in no time!
5. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
When you’re stressed, your body tenses up. You may not even realize that your muscles are becoming rigid, stiff, and less flexible over time. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can help relax your muscles by tensing up specific parts of your muscles and then releasing that tension. When you relax your body, your mind will follow suit and de-stress too. To get started, check out this guide on how to do Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Visualization is a powerful technique for managing stress. It involves guiding your mind out of a current, stressful situation and replacing it with relaxing imagery. Start by taking a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Then, imagine a peaceful space: your favourite travel destination or a cozy spot in your house. Visualize details such as the feeling of the sun on your skin or the smell of the rain. Stay in this space for as long as you need and remember that you can come back to it anytime you want. Ahh, we feel better already.
7. Create Boundaries And Stick To Them
Establishing boundaries is important in managing stress because it allows you to designate time and space for different areas of your life. Create boundaries for work hours, including how and when you can be reached outside of work. Make sure you consider your own needs and create boundaries that reflect those needs, whether it be at work or at home. Communicate openly with co-workers, friends, and family so they know what you need, and allow yourself to remain firm on your boundaries. After all, they’re called boundaries for a reason. We know that being assertive can be tough – you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings – but being assertive is crucial in taking care of yourself (and others).
8. Practice The ABC Technique
ABC stands for Adversity, Beliefs, and Consequences. The main goal of the ABC Technique is to overcome negative thinking that results from stressful situations. Here’s the Coles Notes version: when we find ourselves in a stressful situation we face Adversity. Our perception of the Adversity leads to our Beliefs, which then influence what we do next – the Consequences. For example, receiving negative feedback may prompt beliefs of failure, which then have negative consequences on the remainder of your workday. By acknowledging and recording this harmful pattern, you can replace negativity with healthy thought practices.
Think of these stress-busting techniques as a shield. They will be there to protect you from any stress that comes your way.
You’re basically Captain America now. Congratulations.