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7 Tips For Overcoming Stress And Building Resilience

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Key Points

1) Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress levels. Prioritize a good night's sleep to recharge your body and mind, and establish a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation.

2) Eating a nutritious diet can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Incorporate foods rich in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and protein to combat stress and support your body's functioning.

3) Regular exercise has numerous benefits for managing stress and boosting resilience. Engaging in physical activities releases endorphins, reduces stress hormones, and improves mental well-being.

4) Taking breaks throughout the day is essential for reducing stress and maintaining productivity. Use your break time to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as going for a walk or practicing mindfulness.

5) Spending quality time with loved ones helps reduce stress levels and provides emotional support. Plan outings and activities with family and friends, communicate about work-related stress, and create a clear separation between work and personal life.

6) Pursuing hobbies and interests provides a break from stress and contributes to overall well-being. Engaging in physical, mental, or social activities that bring joy and relaxation can improve physical and mental health.

7) Seek professional help if stress levels persist and interfere with daily life. Mental health professionals can offer strategies, tools, and support to manage stress effectively and improve overall well-being. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and can contribute to building resilience.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with stress? Do you wish you could be more resilient and better equipped to handle challenging situations? If so, you are not alone. Stress is a normal part of life, but it can become debilitating if not managed properly.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to increase your resilience and reduce the amount of stress you feel. In this blog post, we will explore 7 tips for overcoming stress and building resilience. By utilizing these strategies, you can start to feel empowered and in control of your stress levels.

1) Get enough sleep

Sleep plays an essential role in our overall health and well-being. During the pandemic, many of us have been suffering from increased stress and anxiety levels. This has resulted in sleep deprivation for some, leading to lower energy levels and further health problems.

Inadequate sleep has been linked to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress. Cortisol can make us more vulnerable to depression and agoraphobia, as well as make it difficult to concentrate and focus. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is key to managing stress levels.

To reduce bedtime stress and improve your sleep quality, incorporate these seven habits into your bedtime routine:

  1. Take a warm bath or shower to help relax your body and mind before bedtime.

  2. Read a book or listen to calming music to quiet your thoughts and prepare for sleep.

  3. Set aside enough time for sleep to ensure you get the recommended amount for your age group.

  4. Avoid screens at least 30 minutes before bed to reduce exposure to blue light that can interfere with sleep.

  5. Practice deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation to help calm your mind and body.

  6. Use aromatherapy with essential oils like lavender or chamomile to create a soothing environment.

  7. Consider practicing yoga or gentle stretching to release tension in your muscles and promote relaxation.

With the right support and healthy habits, you can get the restful sleep you need to manage stress and build resilience.

2) Eat a nutritious diet

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. Eating nutritious food provides the body with energy and vital nutrients, while reducing the risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, research has demonstrated that healthy eating can help to reduce stress and feelings of loneliness.

Dietitian Courtney Barth, MS, RDN, LD, CPT, explains that specific foods can reduce cortisol levels, the primary hormone responsible for stress.

Cortisol plays various roles in the body, including regulating sleep cycles, reducing inflammation, increasing blood sugar, managing carbohydrate, fat, and protein usage, and controlling blood pressure. It's also known as the "stress hormone" because the adrenal gland releases it during stress-inducing or physically stressful situations. In short-term scenarios, cortisol provides the energy necessary to respond to stress. However, long-term cortisol exposure results in stress and inflammation, increasing blood pressure and negating its beneficial effects.

Barth recommends managing stress as the primary treatment for lowering cortisol levels. She suggests eating an anti-inflammatory diet, focusing on whole foods rather than processed foods. Foods that combat stress and lower cortisol levels include:

  1. Vitamin B-rich foods such as beef, chicken, eggs, fortified cereal, nutritional yeast, and organ meats.

  2. Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as fatty fish, avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds, herring, mackerel, olive oil, oysters, salmon, sardines, and walnuts.

  3. Magnesium-rich foods such as avocados, bananas, broccoli, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.

  4. Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, and legumes.

  5. Gut-healthy foods such as Greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

Barth suggests high-magnesium foods as the first line of treatment for relaxation. However, it's essential to maintain a balanced diet consistently and avoid alcohol, caffeine, high-sugar foods, and simple carbs like cakes and pastries, which raise cortisol levels. Consistently eating on a schedule of every three to five hours can balance blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol levels.

Although nutrition can impact the body significantly, Barth warns that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so relying on food first is vital. However, reducing stress requires a whole-body approach, including exercise, adequate sleep, and chronic disease management, like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. While genes and the environment are beyond our control, making healthy food choices can help our bodies. Nutrition is the one thing we can control for our health, Barth says. Finally, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body functioning optimally.

3) Exercise regularly

Regular aerobic exercise is not only essential for your heart but also for your head. Although exercise can seem daunting at first, it brings remarkable changes to your body, metabolism, heart, and spirits. Regular exercise has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, stimulate and calm, counter depression, and dissipate stress. It's been verified in clinical trials that exercise can successfully treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.

So, how can exercise help contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, both chemical and behavioral. Aerobic exercise has a neurochemical basis and reduces levels of the body's stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol while stimulating the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" and the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.

Besides the neurochemical benefits, behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional advantages of exercise. As your body gets into shape, your self-image will improve, and you'll earn a sense of mastery, control, pride, and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor and energy will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline of regular exercise will help you achieve other essential lifestyle goals. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy some solitude or make friends and build networks.

Almost any type of exercise can help reduce stress levels. Many people find using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion, such as walking or jogging, works best. Even a simple 20-minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress. Others prefer vigorous workouts that burn stress along with calories, such as ellipticals. And the same stretching exercises that help relax your muscles after a hard workout can also help relax your mind. In summary, exercise is play and recreation; when your body is busy, your mind is distracted from the worries of daily life and is free to think creatively.

4) Take breaks throughout the day

It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day in order to reduce stress and stay productive. Taking breaks from work allows you to clear your mind and recharge, which can help you stay focused and motivated. Breaks can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as a few hours. It is important to find a rhythm that works for you.

When taking a break, focus on doing something that brings you joy and relaxation. Take a walk outside, read a book, do yoga, watch a movie, listen to music, or meditate. Doing activities that help you relax and enjoy life can be beneficial for your mental health.

In addition to providing stress relief, breaks can also help you become more productive. When you take a break, it gives your mind and body time to reset and refocus, so that when you come back to work, you can approach tasks with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Taking breaks throughout the day is essential for managing stress and staying productive. Give yourself permission to take a break when needed. By allowing yourself regular breaks, you can reduce stress and improve your productivity in the long run.

5) Spend time with loved ones

Spending time with loved ones can be a powerful tool for reducing stress and building resilience. Connecting with family, friends, and other support networks provides an emotional buffer that can help you manage stress and cope with difficult times.

According to a recent study, Americans work the most hours compared to other major global economies, with the average American working 34.5 hours a week not including lunch breaks. Adding in lunch breaks and commutes, most adults spend around 45 hours a week away from home. While this may not seem like a large amount of time, when combined with necessary sleep and other responsibilities, the amount of quality time left with family and friends can be limited, leading to increased stress levels.

It’s no surprise that spending time with loved ones can reduce stress levels. In fact, social relationships have been shown to have positive effects on mental health and overall life expectancy. However, not spending enough quality time with family and friends can have negative consequences, such as children feeling emotional stress due to lack of parental involvement and friends reducing attempts to socialize.

So, how can individuals combat the negative effects of a busy, stress-packed lifestyle and spend more quality time with loved ones? Here are five tips:

  1. Plan Quality Time with Family: Schedule outings and activities with family members, even if it’s after work or on weekends. This can provide opportunities for physical activity and reduce overall stress levels.

  2. Talk About Your Day with People Who Care: Confide in loved ones about work-related stress and emotional burdens. Sharing emotional loads has been shown to reduce stress.

  3. When the Workday is Over, it’s Over: Resist the urge to bring work home and respond to emails outside of work hours. Creating a separation between work and home can help reduce stress levels.

  4. Plan More Vacations: Americans tend to vacation less than their European counterparts. Taking vacations can reduce stress levels and provide opportunities for quality time with loved ones.

  5. Take Every Opportunity to Hang Out with Non-Work Friends: Spending time with non-work friends has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Supportive friends can provide a buffer against stressful situations.

6) Pursue hobbies and interests

With busy schedules and packed calendars, it can be hard to find time to relax and recharge. However, making time for hobbies can provide numerous health benefits that are worth exploring.

From reducing stress and anxiety to improving physical health, hobbies are more than just a fun pastime. Here are some of the ways hobbies can benefit your overall well-being.

Physical Health Benefits:

Many hobbies involve physical activity, such as hiking, dancing, or gardening. Engaging in physical leisure activities for at least 20 minutes once a week has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve physical function. Additionally, hobbies that involve regular physical activity have been associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index. This means that hobbies can help improve your cardiovascular health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and maintain a healthy weight.

Mental Health Benefits:

Hobbies can also have a positive impact on mental health. Engaging in enjoyable activities during leisure time has been correlated with higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative effect. Pleasures and gratifications, which are activities that bring fun and meaning to life, have been found to be wonderful for relaxation and enjoyment of the moment. Since hobbies generally incorporate pleasures into your life, maintaining hobbies can be good for your overall sense of joy.

Stress Relief Benefits:

Hobbies can also provide a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life. When you're participating in a hobby you enjoy, you can lose yourself in the moment and forget about everything else. This can be especially welcome for people who feel overwhelmed by all that they have to do and need to recharge their batteries by doing something they enjoy. Engaging in hobbies can provide a break with a purpose, which can help people feel that they’re not just sitting around but are using their downtime for something productive.

Social Benefits Many hobbies lend themselves to group activities, such as golfing, knitting circles, and creative writing groups. Hobbies that connect you with others can bring the added benefit of social support, which can bring stress relief and meaning to life in a fun way. The friends you have fun with can become some of your best friends, so hobbies that bring you closer to others are well worth your time.

Staving off Burnout:

Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom to life that can help to minimize the impact of chronic stress. Those who feel overwhelmed at a job, for example, can benefit from hobbies because they provide an outlet for stress and something to look forward to after a hard day (or week) at a stressful job. Some research shows that those who are in stressful jobs that normally contribute to burnout feel less of a need to "recover" from their day at bedtime if they have more physical or social leisure activities that aren’t work-related—or in other words, more hobbies. Hobbies can help buffer the effects of a stressful job and mitigate factors that contribute to burnout.

7) Seek professional help if needed

If your stress levels persist and interfere with your daily life, it is important to consider seeking professional help. There are a variety of mental health professionals available, such as counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, who can help you better manage stress. These professionals can provide you with strategies and tools to identify and reduce stress triggers, as well as helping you develop healthier coping skills. They may also suggest medication, if needed. It is important to know that there is no shame in seeking out a mental health professional and that doing so can be an important step to building resilience and improving your overall mental and emotional wellbeing.


Are you having challenges recovering from the emotional effects of the pandemic?

Explore your wellness with the Post-Pandemic Recovery Workbook. This workbook is designed by professionals utilizing the best of the clinical literature on self-improvement to assist you in achieving your wellness goals.


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