Often when people are stressed they feel more frustrated and emotionally reactive to events that would normally affect them less.
In fact, increased frustration, irritability and sensitivity can be signs of burnout as well.
If you find yourself feeling less patient, more frustrated, more emotional, and less able to handle the stresses of your life, there are several things you can do to feel better:
1. Find Quick Stress Relief
Stopping your stress response relatively early on can help you to respond more calmly rather than reacting to stress in a way that you might regret.
Quick stress relievers such as breathing exercises or Progressive Muscle Relaxation, for example, can calm you down and help you feel less frustrated and more able to handle what comes. Then you can take the next steps with a clearer head.
2. Change Your Attitude
Much of whether or not we see something as stressful depends on our habitual thought patterns and how we process the world around us.
For example, those who see things as under their control tend to be less stressed about what happens to them, as they see that they always have options for change.
Studies have shown health benefits to optimistic ways of thinking as well.
3. Change Your Lifestyle
If you feel yourself to be continually on edge, it’s possible that something needs to change in your life.
If you cut down on commitments, take good care of your body, and make other healthy lifestyle changes, you’ll be dealing with less overall stress so you’ll be more effective at managing the stress that you do encounter.
4. Draw on Social Support
Often people are helped by having the release and support of sharing their troubles with close friends, family or loved ones.
While it’s not healthy to constantly complain about an endless list of woes, talking to a trusted friend about frustrations now and then (and returning the favour by being a good listener) can help you process what’s going on with your life, and enable you to brainstorm solutions.
If you don’t have someone you’re comfortable sharing your situation with, seeing a therapist or starting a regular journaling practice have both been shown to have benefits as well.
5. Have Some Regular Stress Relief Activities
To maintain a less stressed lifestyle, it’s important to have some regular stress relieving activities in your life.
Those who regularly walk, meditate, or enjoy other stress relief activities in their lives tend to feel less stressed in general and less reactive to specific stressors that arise through the day.
Deep breathing for stress relief
With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful, relaxation technique.
It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check.
Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music.
All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.
How to practice deep breathing
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs.
When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen.
The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel. So the next time you feel stressed, take a minute to slow down and breathe deeply:
• Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
• Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
• Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
• Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you have a hard time breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor.
Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.