How to Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected During Times of Stress

how to relieve stress
Free People

Be it a deadline, an important meeting, or an ever-growing to-do list, stress manages to find a way into our everyday lives. And, while stress can be motivating at times, it more often than not causes us to be completely overwhelmed. Determined not to let stress wreak havoc on our well-being, we reached out to Sandra Overby-Cooper, a registered nurse, hospital supervisor, and holistic health coach at University Place Center for Energy Medicine, for her tips on how to relieve stress.

Having worked in an emergency room setting for over 28 years, Overby-Cooper knows a thing or two about handling stressful situations. And, while Overby-Cooper insists that proper self-care is necessary when dealing with stress, she has a few tricks up her sleeve for creating calm in high-pressure moments.

For the stress-reduction tips as told to us by an emergency room nurse, keep on reading.

1. Exercise

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Free People

Overby-Cooper says releasing energy in a mindful way is a great technique for dealing with stress, and she's not wrong. According to studies, exercise promotes better sleep, which helps reduce stress as does the release of endorphins associated with activities. So what exercises should we be doing for a greater sense of calm? Overby-Cooper says the best exercise for reducing stress is dependent on the individual, as the activity you choose should be something you thoroughly enjoy. For instance, if you like to hike, find some new trails to explore, or if running is more your style, try joining an afternoon running group. By getting involved in an activity you love, Overby-Cooper says you are more likely to stick with it.

2. Remember To Breathe

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If you notice yourself becoming overwhelmed with stress, Overby-Cooper suggests a basic breathing technique in which you count to ten, breathing in on count one, out on count two, and so on, until you reach ten. While Overby-Cooper says this is a great tactic for relieving immediate moments of stress, when it's practiced daily over a period of time, you will likely notice a greater sense of calm and a healthier, more supportive response to stressful situations.

3. Eat Well

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We don't think, feel, or operate at our optimum if all we eat is processed food, says Overby-Cooper. Therefore, she recommends avoiding fast food, boxed food, and anything marketed as low-fat or non-fat, as she says these foods are nothing but a "chemical storm." Instead, Overby-Cooper suggests eating a balanced diet composed of whole foods, as this will properly nourish the body and help it better cope with stress.

4. Get Your Rest

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A lack of sleep can mess with our coping abilities, says Overby-Cooper. In other words, level-three stress issues jump to a level ten when our bodies don't get an adequate night's sleep. So just how long should we be sleeping? According to Overby-Cooper, as well as a few studies, a proper night's sleep is a minimum of seven hours. To ensure you are getting quality rest, Overby-Cooper recommends creating a relaxing nighttime routine free of electronics. To do this, she suggests shutting off all electronic devices two hours before bed and participating in relaxing activities, such as taking a bath or reading a book. If you're still having trouble sleeping, Overby-Cooper recommends listening to soothing ocean sounds or following a guided meditation.

5. Laugh

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Free People

One of the best ways to relieve stress and lift your mood is having a laugh, says Overby-Cooper, and science agrees. By telling a joke or hearing one, Overby-Cooper says we are able to get out of our heads and move into a more positive frame of mind.

Next up: These stickers promised to relieve my anxiety—here's what happened.

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