Stress is a part of life. Managing it well is something we’re learning collectively after navigating a difficult year. While many of us are still trying to find our footing so that we can move beyond simply coping with languishing toward a season of thriving, good stress management techniques will propel us forward more quickly.  

Deep breathing

The pace of your breath often gives away how stressed or relaxed you are in a given moment. When you notice it, you can control it by slowing down your breath to reduce your fight or flight response and cortisol levels. Deep breathing is one of the most effective stress management techniques and is recommended frequently by physicians for reducing stress. 

Yoga

One of the many benefits of yoga is how effective it is as a stress management technique. Doing yoga in the morning is particularly effective at setting the tone for the day by keeping stress at bay and managing your mood early. This serenity inducing practice also helps you get fit and stay healthy.  

Meditation

A sense of peace and calm is lacking when you are battling stress and anxiety. Meditation helps reconnect you to those important emotions. Through the practice of stillness and silence, this stress management technique is one that positively impacts emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Meditation options vary, so finding the right one for you may take practice and experimentation. 

Centering prayer

While similar to meditation in some ways, centering prayer is focused on communion with God through conversation, Scripture, contemplative listening. The goal is not necessarily to reduce stress but to let go of the things that create stress. By learning to let go, you automatically reduce opportunities for stress to take hold, and becomes an effective stress management technique while supporting your spiritual wellbeing.  

Talk therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is particularly effective as a stress management technique because it helps anxiety sufferers recognize the thought patterns and behaviors that might lead to stress and find healthier alternatives to avoid it. New ways of thinking can help stop stress in its tracks. 

Journaling

Getting thoughts out of your head and on to paper can be another effective stress management technique. While clearing your head of toxic or negative thoughts can reduce stress, keeping a gratitude journal is an even more impactful way to reduce the triggers for stress. Gratitude helps build emotional resilience and enhances mood immediately when it’s expressed, which is a natural stress buster. 

Welcome a hug

Social distancing has been universally difficult for emotional wellbeing. As touch becomes more acceptable and safe in the days ahead, welcome or initiate a hug from someone you love. Physical touch releases oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone,” which is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress. Adding touch to your arsenal of stress management techniques benefits both the giver and the receiver.  

Stress management techniques don’t end with this list, but the recommendations above are a good place to start to reduce stress and move forward with greater resilience into a new season of life.