Everyone is eager to press through stressful times and situations, looking forward to a time after stress has passed and they can finally get some peace. And while seeing the light at the end of the long tunnel of chronic or episodic stress is something to be celebrated, it also brings it’s own challenges. After stress it’s normal to experience what is called let-down. This may involve a time of fatigue, physical illness, chronic disease flare ups, or even mental health challenges. Once the stress hormones leave our bodies we can be left ragged and at risk. But with some planning let-down can be reduced or even eliminated.
Exercise is important after stress because it create physical stress on the body. This doesn’t mean that the exercise you do needs to be extremely difficult or miserable but is should be more challenging that what you’re already doing. Exercise causes the body to create anti-inflammatories similar to those caused by stress which will help you gradually adjust to a lower amount rather than going cold turkey. In addition, exercise stimulates the immune system. Including at least 5 – 7 minutes of challenging exercise each day will reduce physical symptoms like pain, illness and chronic disease flare ups. It will give your body the opportunity to transition more smoothly after stress.
Stress often involves significant mental challenges including complicated problems to solve. After stress mental challenges can help you gradually alleviate the pressure and demands of stress. Without this your mind is likely to either check out (and you may even experience symptoms of depression) or alternately you may experience racing thoughts as your brain tries to fill the void. For mental challenges consider doing crossword puzzles, solving riddles, or playing suduku or chess. You can even make this fun for the whole family by creating scavenger hunts and other adventures. This will occupy your mind with something challenging but more enjoyable.
Tackle a Project
Tackling a project after stress is a great way to get yourself back on track, give yourself something to be proud of and help you avoid let down. Projects can be both physically and mentally engaging thereby creating a smooth transition to low stress all in one activity. Just be sure that your project isn’t increasing your stress level. It’s ok if it’s slightly stressful or stretching your skills but it shouldn’t high stakes or incredibly difficult. This is a great time to take on cleaning your garage, storage room, or simply a linen closet for example.
Tech can be a profound source of stress and negative thinking. After stress and during let-down we are far more susceptible to the negative messages and images we may come in contact with via tech. In addition, we may be more easily influenced and impulsive. This is why it’s so important to be very mindful and intentional about tech use. Block accounts that are negative or stressful, avoid conspiracy theory content, and turn off the news. Instead focus on planning new goals, things you find inspirational and encouraging, and connecting with those you love.
When we’re stressed we often find ourselves losing sleep. After stress resuming a normal sleep schedule and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night will help your body and mind heal. If you’ve already begun let-down and are struggling with the other tips found in this post sleep is a great place to start. It’s ok to give yourself time to rest and sleep. It’s ok to not be productive and to take a break. While it may feel a bit odd or foreign, the thing you may need most is down time.
If you’re struggling with stress be sure to check out my eBook Finding Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Stress and Overwhelm. It includes over 100 pages of essential information and guidance regarding stress and overwhelm and over 20 activities and exercises to help you get stress under control once and for all. It can be found free inside Inner Circle along with the Take Control of Your Life course series. Learn about membership here.