How to Beat Stress

Posted on: June 25, 2020, by :
ocean waves crashing on shore
Photo by Subtle Cinematics on Unsplash

Beating Stress is Essential

If you looked at the photographs on my camera right now, yes, camera not smartphone, you would find out a lot about me. You would find photos of woodpeckers, blue indigo’s, cardinals, chipmunks, and squirrels—lots of squirrels. Many people might be surprised to discover my newfound hobby.

But they probably shouldn’t be. Photography has become a powerful way for me to capture memories with my family and nature. It’s also helping me view the world more objectively. Through images, I’m learning more about my world rather than relying on my preconceived opinions. Photographs are encouraging me to be more mindful as I strive to pay more attention to what I see, think, and feel.   

In addition to how instrumental photography has become to me, consider that researchers at Lancaster University found that taking a daily photo improved wellbeing through:

  • Self-care
  • Community interaction
  • The potential for reminiscence

The Little Things Aren’t So Little

So why have I decided to take up photography? Simple. I know that it encourages me to pause and appreciate the little things in life, because in reality the “little things” aren’t little at all, they are some of my most meaningful experiences. And it’s a practice that is a form of self-care and this type of care is vital for our well-being.

Stress Levels Continue to Rise

Unfortunately, many can’t or choose not to make time to pause. According to Gallup, in 2020, the percentages of U.S. adults experiencing significant stress and worry on a daily basis have increased in an unprecedented manner compared with July-August 2019 — with stress rising 14 percentage points to 60% and worry rising 21 points to 59%. 

We’re living in unprecedented times. Our schedules are hectic and we often rest poorly and neglect our health.

Self-Care Elements

It doesn’t need to be this way. In spite of living in uncertain and extremely stressful times, you can decide that your health and well-being are worthy of your time and attention. You can spare yourself some of the stress, worry, and poor health experienced by many by focusing on the elements of self-care with the most potential to benefit you.

Physical Activity

The need for activity is essential to our bodies. Yet we often neglect that need, sacrificing physical activity for work. Over time, if we continue to neglect ourselves of the need for physical activity, we are positioning ourselves for illness and suffering.

Improve your health and well-being by being active every day. And don’t be discouraged if your activity levels differ from day to day. Circumstances permitting, I take daily walks or ride an exercise bike, and it’s only helped my health and attitude. It can do the same for you.

Spiritual Connectivity

To beat stress, feel optimistic, and stay well, you need a focus on your self-care. Specifically, you need to have a sense of connection to something higher than yourself through your own experiences. When you do, you decrease your risk for illness and disease. This has a positive impact on your ability to function. Comfort through connectivity is real and impactful.

Emotional Well-being

To feel calm, happy, and satisfied, you need positive emotional well-being. Specifically, you need to be able to stop worrying and feeling anxious. When you are worried, you are unhappy and your well-being is at risk. This has an impact on your health which in turn can have a negative effect on your everyday activities.

People don’t often think about emotional well-being the same as they do physical health. Many may think, “If I just continue exercising, that’ll be enough to help me manage my stress.” That’s like saying my mental health isn’t as important as my physical health. You need to reconsider your point of view and know that your physical health may suffer if you neglect your emotional health.

Choose activities that contribute to your happiness and peace of mind. Otherwise, you may end up more stressed than when you started trying to improve your sense of emotional well-being. In fact, one of the best ways to relax is to make time to experience activities that you find enjoyable in the moment. By focusing on what’s occurring in the moment, you are unable to worry about the past or the future.

Social Activity

The link between social activity and decreased stress is well documented. Social support helps people feel less stress due to increased levels of oxytocin. This helps decrease anxiety and provides a calming effect. 

Yet social connectivity has been more challenging in recent months given the pandemic. We are challenged to interact with family, friends, and the public in new ways that often rely on technology to be the bridge that keeps us connected. We need healthy relationships with others. We have to make time and put in the effort to maintain relationships. The best relationships offer mutual support, encouragement, and accountability. These relationships help reduce your stress and contribute to your overall health and well-being.

Even though times are uncertain and stress is high, it’s important to take care of yourself.

I’ve put together a quick start guide for self-care that I hope you find useful in your self-care journey; you can find it here.