4 Science-Backed Ways To Deal With Stress (That Are Actually Fun)

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Stress Management Techniques To Calm Down & Be Happier

Manage your stress so you can live a happier life!

Everyone experiences stress in their lives, but science has found some seriously effective stress management techniques that can help you calm down and feel happier!

RELATED: The Scary Truth About What Happens To Your Body When You're Stressed

While stress management sounds complicated and thinking about how to deal with stress might even stress you out even more, it's vital that you take steps to ensure they don't take over. The effects of stress not only involve your body but also your mental health and happiness. 

It's true when they say laughter is the best medicine but it's not the only one. 

Here are 4 things that can help you manage stress, according to science.

1. Do fun things everyday

Sounds like a simple concept but in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, this is an emotion regulation skill called "accumulating positive short term experiences." This skill is about recognizing the importance of joy and fun and how this not only helps to reduce stress but also makes life more fulfilling overall.

Creating enjoyable and pleasant experiences for yourself is not "selfish" or a "luxury" or something to do on the off-chance you have time — it’s a therapeutic skill used to manage stress and regulate emotions.

When we start to create fun experiences in our everyday life, this makes us less psychologically vulnerable to stressful events and builds our emotional resiliency.

Keep in mind when you start incorporating joyful activities into your everyday experience, that these are little things that you personally enjoy and derive meaning and happiness from. It might be anything from talking to a close friend on the phone, going for a walk with your dogs, drawing, reading a book, listening to music, or watching the trees sway in the wind.

So think about what activities you find fun and rejuvenating that you can realistically include into your current lifestyle and do at least one of those things every single day! 

2. Use self-encouragers

This is a distress tolerance skill of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy that is about using your self-talk to uplift and support yourself when going through challenging times. 

When we are stressed out, we tell ourselves statements about the event/occurrence that cause us to experience more distress about our situation. We escalate the severity of events in our minds by the language we use.

So to start with, you need to identify exactly what you’re telling yourself about the situation. Ask yourself, "What am I telling myself about this situation?" and then counteract that statement with an encouraging sentiment.

This is not about being positive or using affirmations, this is about being realistic but effective when it comes to being an encouraging and supportive person for yourself instead of relying on or waiting for others to do so. 

For example, if you’re working to a strict deadline and feeling overwhelmed, you might notice yourself thinking, "I’m never going to be able to finish this" or "I can’t handle this."

Instead of that, use a self-encouraging statement to coach you forward such as "This is going to be hard, but I’ll get through it!” or "This is a big challenge but I’m going to be so proud of myself when I finish it" or "I’ve got through more difficult things before, so I can handle this."

It’s both realistic of the situation and validating, but the choice of language in the encouraging statement gives you the motivation to move forward and get through instead of giving up. 

RELATED: 7 Ways To Let Go Of Stress (That Actually Work)

3. Be grateful

A lot of people are miserable because they fixate on what they don't have. The power of being grateful for what you do already have in your life is heavily supported by scientific research. 

To start using gratitude to improve your emotional and physical health, next time you notice yourself feeling stressed, upset, angry, or frustrated, take a few moments to write down 5 things you're grateful for: "I'm grateful for/to....because....." Try it for yourself and watch how your mood changes!

4. Laugh

As mentioned before, humor is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer) promote better physical, cardiac and mental health, strengthen your immune system, and increase your life span.

Some research has even provided recommendations for general practitioners to "prescribe" laughter to patients presenting with stress. 

In order to utilize the benefits of laughter as a stress management strategy, the first thing you need to do is stop taking yourself so seriously!

Instead of criticizing yourself for something, try and see the funny side of the situation. It'll feel much better and takes way less emotional energy. Secondly, when you notice you’re feeling stressed out, make a deliberate effort to change your emotional state up by using humor to feel better.

For example, if you're feeling upset about something that has just occurred, instead of dwelling in your misery, actively take charge of your emotional state by seeking out YouTube videos or stand up comedy material that will make you laugh, or call a friend who always tells hilarious jokes.

It's totally within your control to do that and if you don't, recognize that that is the choice that you are making for yourself to stay stuck. 

When figuring out how to manage stress, start looking at humor as the natural medicine that it is. Use it to not only as a way deal with the stress but to also to add joy to your everyday living!

Using the above stress management techniques will not only improve your ability to manage your stress, but it will help you to realize that your emotional health and wellness is within your control. 

RELATED: 7 Things That Happen To You And Your Body When You Laugh

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Miya Yamanouchi is an empowerment counselor with specialist sex & relationship training who is committed to assisting all members of the community to embrace their inner strength and live an inspired and vibrant life, irrespective of their perceived limitations.

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