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5 Steps to a Stress Detox

Stress is rush hour traffic when you’re late, an argument with a family member, or persistent employment worries.  It’s the unknowns of a medical diagnosis, the demands of caring for an aging parent, or the looming stack of overdue bills.

While our triggers may be different, any situation we perceive as threatening or requires us to adjust or change can set off stress. It often creeps in quietly through the back door and before we know it we feel overwhelmed with the burdens that have seemingly mounded up from nowhere.  

Researchers are beginning to understand the long-term effects of stress on our physical and psychological health. While stress may be inevitable, a stress detox it is possible to control the way our body reacts to the toxins of stress.

Recharge

Deep breathing and sleep are the two things that our body needs most to recharge, yet stress keeps us from making them a priority.  

It is a natural tendency for us to either hold our breath or take short shallow breaths when we feel stressed.  Breathing deeply is a cleansing process that helps to lower cortisol levels and redirect our focus – both of which can help reduce stress and anxiety (Source). I’ve seen these benefits first hand when I started practicing yoga. You can even set many of the new health watches to remind you to take a minute to breathe throughout the day.

Sleep, on the other hand, increases brain function and our ability to problem-solve. Studies show that the recommended 8 hours of sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to refresh resulting in improved memory, judgment, and mood. 

Be proactive and set a schedule. If you have an iPhone, one feature I LOVE is the bedtime reminder in the timer. Count backward from when you need to wake up and figure out when you should be hitting the pillow. I’ve found if I stick to the same sleep routine on the weekends I feel better.

Remove
Unplug

The average person spends about 16 hours a day plugged-in to electronics.  Whether it is the TV, social media, or a smartphone the research links increases in stress to screen time. Lowering your stress can be as easy as flipping a switch.

Start tracking your media time to see if it’s a real contributor.  If the thought of being without your phone causes your heart rate to spike it may be time for a media detox.  Start small with ditching the TV for an evening, skipping social media for a day, or having a cell phone-free weekend. See how it makes you feel. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Articulate

Write it, say it, but find a way to express it. Whether you prefer to record your feelings on paper or use your partner as a sounding board; letting those bottled-up feelings have a voice alleviates negative stress, improves our ability to let go of our anxieties, and brings clarity to our thoughts.

And while you’re pushing those negative thoughts out, try replacing them with feelings of gratitude. Gratitude is shown to help us become more resilient to stress. Grateful people recover more quickly and cope more effectively with life’s difficulties.

Recognize
Family Circus gift

Stress becomes toxic when we imagine or anticipate a threat that most likely will not happen. Accepting the toxic worry leads to a negative stress cycle that can be self-perpetuating.  Recognizing what is an imagined worry and what is reality is key to creating a healthy stress balance. Good stress helps us anticipate what really might happen and come up with possible solutions so that we are prepared. Toxic worry only creates additional problems (Stress Management).

5 Steps to a Stress Detox 1

Reflect

Spend time reflecting on the real problem – what is rational and irrational – and finding practical solutions. Meditation or prayer allows us to organize our thoughts and sluff off what is non-essential. Some solutions may consist of strategies to break stress down into manageable chunks and setting realistic expectations. Sometimes just having a plan to tackle the stress makes a world of difference.

Stress is part of life, but we can choose how to handle negative stress when we encounter it. Accepting what we can’t change is a big part of the equation. Letting go of the negative and focusing on the positive will always help. 

What are some of the most important steps in making a stress detox work for you?

5 Steps to a Stress Detox 2

Still feeling stressed? Try these additional articles for a little more help.

Relaxing for a stress detox

5 Steps to a Stress Detox

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16 thoughts on “5 Steps to a Stress Detox”

  1. Love these suggestions! I’m glad I found your post because I really need stress detox right now. I’ve already done a digital detox and it made a huge difference in my life.

    1. Aika, taking the time to look at your stress and where it is coming from is a huge part of a stress detox! I’m glad you’ve tried the digital detox – it was a game changer for me!

    1. My phone does the same thing! I have to just make up my mind to dig into the stressful thing and I always feel better no matter how little progress I make. Thanks for the comment, Megan!

  2. jenniferwise4heritagemakers

    These are great, great steps! Sleep and articulating things are HUGE for me, but all of these are so important! Great post. Pinning! 🙂 #wanderingwednesday

    1. I think we often underestimate the importance of sleep. Giving up a few hours here and there to try to get more done. Really our brain needs that time to reset! Thanks for the comment and pinning, Jennifer!

      1. I agree. Even with my early mornings, I’m a bit of a sleep nazi. I really just don’t function as well and don’t feel as good. My brain NEEDS the time asleep!

  3. I think electronics are a big contributor to stress and overwhelm. Heck, I see the addiction in some of my children (some go with or without easier than others). Unplugging mentally can really help as does a good night of sleep! Great read <3 Jamie

    1. It is a love hate relationship – right? I feel that with my own business. It is nice to just put it away for the weekend! Thanks for the comment!

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