Don't Fight Stress, Fight the Stressors

Stress is an unfortunate constant in many of our lives. There always seems to be some task to get done, something to worry about, and something to keep us up at night. Whether it's money problems, work, or home life, stress is part of life.

Unfortunately though, that's a huge issue. According to a recent Gallup poll, 8 out of 10 Americans are under almost constant stress. And it's well proven that stress has adverse effects on our health.

There is so much advice out there about how to fight stress, but what if stress isn't the real problem we need to be fighting? What if it's the stressors that we need to fight? Here are some tips to help fight stressors, which in turn will help fight stress.

1. Get Organized

I have always found that when I'm really stressed out about something, that getting things organized helps to put things in perspective and get things done a little bit at a time, instead of biting off more than I can chew.

If you have a lot of tasks at work, try to organize your week using a task calendar such as Trello or Asana to help plan your work day by day. They can help you see what exactly you need to get done and when, and you can check off tasks as you finish them, which really gives you a sense of accomplishment! Once you've completed all your tasks for the day, you can stop stressing about them, and worry about tomorrow's work tomorrow.

It's definitely easier said than done, sometimes, but organization can be a lifesaver when you feel like you have way too much to do.

2. Exercise

Adding something else to your list of things to do when you already have a full schedule is probably the last piece of advice you want to get. I hate it too when I'm really stressed and someone tells me to go workout.

But let me tell you, once I'm finished exercising, I feel so much better. I'm more focused, more motivated, and I don't have the Chicken Little "the sky is falling" attitude anymore. As it turns out, there's a scientific reason for this.

Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to neuronal death and slows down neurogenesis, but exercise, in particular aerobic exercise, builds new neurons and new neural connections. Exercise also releases endorphins, making you feel happier, and helps promote good sleep, which can be disturbed when you're stressed.

There are so many benefits to exercise, that it's a great idea to squeeze in about 30 minutes of exercise a day, particularly when you're stressed. It's well worth it, and will help release all the built up tension from stress.

Plus, if you're into something like kickboxing, punching something just feels awesome when you're stressed.

3. Laugh

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Laughter really is the best medicine...at least when you're stressed.

I make it a goal to try to laugh at least once a day. Whether it's from a funny meme, hanging out with your goofball friend, or watching a 10-minute video by your favorite comedian, laughing can make your day just a little brighter.

Laughter has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in people, which is released when people are stressed out.

Make your day a little sunnier, and try to laugh it off.

4. Start a Stress Journal

Have you tried all of these things, but somehow still somehow mega stressed out? A stress journal might help you out.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what exactly is stressing you out. If this is the case, start journaling when you're stressed. Much like a dream journal, you'll want to make this a daily habit. Here's what you should write down:

  • What caused your stress (if you're not sure, just guess)
  • How you felt physically and mentally
  • How you acted
  • What you did to make yourself feel better

Doing this can really help you manage the stressors in your life. If you know what they are, you'll know how to fight them. Journaling about your stress will help you to find the tricks that work best for you, too, and may even help you to identify certain situations which you know will stress you out so that you can avoid them.

To sum it all up...

There are a few things we can do to fight stressors instead of fighting stress in our lives. If you're sick, you treat the disease and not just the symptoms, right? We should be doing the same with stress.

Here's what you can do:

  • DO get organized
  • DO exercise
  • DO laugh
  • DO start a stress journal to help you identify your stressors

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