How to Reduce Stress by Altering Your Stress Reactions

Stress is a spiral, and to decrease its effect, you'll have to alter your stress reactions. Check out several ways to do that.

You will need

  • Experimentation
  • Simplification
  • Friends
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Health professional (optional)

Step 1 Experiment with responses Examine how you react to stress and try to understand what spurs on the anger or tension to control you. Experiment with modifying your normal responses, such as a tendency to panic, by breathing slowly when you would normally be inclined to hyperventilate or obsess.

Step 2 Stem tension pain Unclench jaws, neck, and shoulders to stem the tension and the unexplained physical pain that follows.

Step 3 Cut back Cut back on activities and simplify your schedule instead of calling in sick to work or giving in to anxiety. If you can, delegate duties to others. You don’t have to take on everything yourself.

Step 4 Embrace triumphs Set realistic goals for tasks, rather than magnifying the inevitable disappointments you set yourself up for. Train yourself to embrace small triumphs and find some good in the usual procession of perceived setbacks. Plan and prepare each day to prevent stress-producing time crunches.

Step 5 Surround yourself with friends Surround yourself with positive people when you feel lonely and isolated, and when you know that an eruption is coming. Find a way to enhance your sense of well being in a safe environment if you’ve been overreacting to friends, loved ones, and fellow workers.

Step 6 Get a hobby Take up a hobby to distract yourself from your anxieties, and use it calm the mind in anticipation of stressful events. This helps strike a balance in your work and personal life. Reading, arts, crafts, gardening, sports, music — anything out of the ordinary that’s free of pressure, measurement, or obligations will do.

Step 7 Combat with exercise Combat the fight-or-flight urge through the energy release of exercise. Stress-induced tension makes us want to run or beat off the wolf at the psychic door, so use that impulse and wear yourself out with some beneficial running, swimming, or aerobics.

Step 8 Try breathing exercises Try breathing exercises. Inhale when the stress is high, on a long, slow, seven count, hold for another seven, then release through pursed lips on the same count. This returns oxygen to the body that is depleted due to anxiety. This simple breathing trick can help whenever emotions are running high.

Step 9 Get rest Make sure that you get enough sleep at night. While some people joke they are too busy to sleep, using caffeine to stay awake or going through your day weary and tired can make you more prone to snap at your peers. Taking care of your body through exercise, loosening tense muscles, relaxing, getting the right amount of rest, and remembering to breathe can go a long way in improving your outlook on the most stressful situations.