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11 Direct Ways To Reduce Stress

11 Direct Ways To Reduce Stress

In today’s hyper-competitive and busy world, where global urbanization and technology have become an integral part of our lives, we all lead incredibly stressful lives. Stress has become an unavoidable part of our daily routine and it keeps on building up for a variety of reasons, including never-ending bills, unemployment or unsatisfying jobs, finances, relationship issues, and a whole other set of problems we face daily.

It has become harder to buffer ourselves from the world, so we need to dial it back a notch and treat ourselves with some peace and quiet from time to time. In order for us to achieve that, we need to reorganize our lives, set priorities and not allow the days to merge into one another, filled merely with work and obligations.

When stress becomes overwhelming, it can impact our mood and our productivity, but most importantly, it can affect our physical and mental health. Not only can it weaken our immune system and cause anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and muscle pain, but it can also lead to major illnesses such as depression and heart disease.

The good news is that it is manageable and can be reduced, or even relieved completely. There are steps you can take to reduce stress and alleviate even just a bit of the discomfort.

1. Enter the enchanting world of books

Feeling stressed out? Pick up your favorite book and leave reality and worries behind. Curling up with a good book can boost your mind and well-being. It is the most effective way to relax and overcome stress. Reading may also help you sleep better. Getting lost in a book before bedtime can calm your mind and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Books can also help ease depression. So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your job or your everyday house chores, take that book, sit back in your most comfortable chair, and enter the world of magic. Read about the ancient Roman Empire, the myths and legends of the Greek gods, the stories about faraway lands and kingdoms of fantasy worlds, the classics that shaped the face of world literature – anything that lifts your spirits and makes you forget all about the source of your stress.

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2. Travel

The pace of the modern life is making it extremely difficult for us to switch off, so a little time away from home can serve as a therapy session and help unwind the mind. Travel somewhere you’ve never been before. Meet new cultures, explore new lands, and go see some ancient sights for the first time. Try new food, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone.

However, if you have a favorite place you’ve been to, enjoyed a lot and would like to visit again, travel there. Why not? Familiarity with the place can bring tranquility and help you relax even more. After you’ve recharged your batteries on a vacation, you won’t be stressed out and everyday life will be much more fun than usual.

3. Go camping

Woman camping in forest

    If you’re not in a position to travel somewhere far, don’t worry. Find yourself a place near your home, where you can set up a camp and tune your senses to nature. Embrace the wilderness, light a camp fire, set up a barbecue, and enjoy all the colors of the natural world. Tune out of all the technological distractions and leave the digital world behind – it will still be there when you return home. The reception probably won’t be good anyway, so by turning everything off you rid yourself of the only thing you would be stressing over during camping.

    Unplugging from the tech world can be extremely pleasant, if you’re willing to try it. One of the best parts of being outdoors is the sound of nature. The chirping of the birds, the sound of the stream flowing, or the rustling of the leaves on the ground can all help you relax and connect with nature. Leaving a campsite for a brief walk in the woods, or by the nearest river or a lake, can also help you become one with nature and find your inner peace.

    4. Walk it off

    You can also effectively relieve yourself of stress by simply taking a walk through your neighborhood. When you’re filled with negative emotions, walking can be one of the best cures you can get. It can have a positive effect on your mood and mental health, and it can be a very powerful stress reducer. Taking your daily walks can lead to a much healthier life, since it reduces stress, helps with depression, and improves your mood. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets or go to the park.

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    As you walk, remember to look up. There’s a whole new world up there that you never seem to notice while rushing to go to work or talking to someone. Take a moment to admire a new building or a balcony somewhere high up that reminds you of a castle from your favorite movie. Visit a museum or a gallery and fall in love with a piece of art. Enjoy your time alone and seize every moment of it. You will feel better than ever.

    5. Play that funky music

    It comes as no surprise that music can reduce stress, right? There’s no doubt that listening to your favorite music can instantly put you in a great mood. This is because music has an impact both on the part of the brain controlling emotions and the part controlling blood pressure. Therefore, when your brain recognizes slow rhythms, your blood pressure slows down. It is believed that classical music is the most effective one when it comes to reducing stress levels, but you can achieve the same goal by simply listening to whatever appeals to you and soothes you the most.

    Put on some good music while reading and enjoy a whole new experience. Turn up the volume while doing your chores and make it all more fun and interesting. If you like listening to music while taking your daily walks, create a playlist on your phone, put headphones on, press play, and escape to the outside world.

    6. Indulge in physical activity

    Training at the gym

      Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and lifting a set of weights. Simply stretching your muscles in the morning or taking a walk can offer you immediate relief from stress. Walking to the nearest restaurant during a break at work can also do the trick. Physical activity is the best way to instantly get your body to release endorphins and positively affect your mood. Jogging outdoors can make you much happier than working out inside of a gym or your home, since nature and fresh air have a greater effect on your emotions. Adopting a few good habits will help you dramatically change your body over time, and it’s never too late to start.

      Listening to music during your workout can improve your mood and motivate you to exercise even harder. Once you get in the habit of being physically active, start incorporating more challenging exercises into your daily routine. You can always go for a run or a bicycle ride, or take aerobic classes or go swimming. The choice is yours – either way, it’s the healthiest thing you’ll ever do.

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      7. Meditate

      For thousands of years people have used meditation for different reasons. Nowadays, it is primarily used as a stress reliever, and an effective one at that. When you start meditating, the process immediately decreases blood pressure and the production of stress hormones, particularly if you combine it with calm music and relaxing essential oils, leaving you with far less stress and anxiety than you started with. The more you meditate, the less stressed you are.

      Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting in a particular way and adopting a special pose. You can actually do it anywhere quiet and any time you want. Yoga and meditation can improve the quality of your life by allowing you to simply pull the plug on the world around you and let your whole body relax. Try it at home or somewhere out in the open, and you will be absolutely amazed at how quickly you will be relieved of all the stress and negative energy inside you.

      8. Find a hobby

      Hobbies are also a great way to reduce stress. You can take anything you like and feel passionate about and make it your hobby. What could be more fun? Choose anything you’re interested in and start doing it in your free time. Your hobby could be reading books, or even writing one. Why not? If you’re a creative person, maybe you’ll end up writing for a living and become one of those rare lucky ones who do what they love and get paid for it.

      If you like painting, you can bring some canvas to life. If photography is your beloved, you can try and capture all the unforgettable moments with your family and friends and make some everlasting memories. You get the point. You can do pretty much anything that makes you happy and in the moment you start doing that, you will instantaneously feel better.

      9. Get a pet

      If you’ve ever owned a pet, you are already familiar with all the benefits pets come with. Not only is playing with them fun, but it can also improve your emotional, mental, and physical health. Apart from the fact that cuddling with a pet reduces overall stress levels, it can actually lower the risk of a heart attack and decrease blood pressure. Pets provide companionship, so say goodbye to the feeling of loneliness and embrace the joy and happiness they bring.

      Dogs in particular can best reduce stress and anxiety and become your most loyal friends since they are attuned to human’s emotions and can understand your feelings and emotional state. However, if you’re not a dog person, pretty much any pet you can have will elevate your levels of serotonin and dopamine and thus calm you both physically and emotionally. Caring for a pet will lift your spirits and fill you with joy, and you will receive all of the unconditional love you can get.

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      10. Connect with people

      Friends sitting together

        Another way to successfully beat stress is meeting with friends. Friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and just can’t seem to shake it off, call your best friend or a member of your family and talk to them. The conversation with a close person will immediately make you feel better.

        Meet them for a drink or a walk through the park, go to the movies together or hit the dance floor. The list is endless. Friends are the best therapy there is and you will enjoy every moment with them no matter where you are. So pick up a phone, call your friend and see how everything is put to perspective once you hear a reassuring voice on the other end of the line.

        11. Laugh it off

        Nothing brings you back on track like a good old laughter. It is the most powerful antidote to stress and it brings joy into your life. Laughter can boost your energy, strengthen your immune system, and, since it lowers stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, it can fill you with happiness. Laughing brings people together and drives away all stress-related problems as if they never existed.

        It is absolutely the best medicine there is, and it will keep you both physically and emotionally healthy. Another important thing is that it’s contagious and leads to a longer life. So, don’t forget to smile today and the whole world will smile with you!

        We all manage stress differently and although it may seem sometimes as if the whole world is on your shoulders and the walls are closing in around you because of the immense feeling of anxiety, you need to simply take a deep breath and use some of the aforementioned tips to successfully shake off that feeling. Take control over stress and take care of yourself. Take charge of every stressful situation and deal with it with a smile on your face. Don’t forget to nurture yourself. Make time for fun and relaxation and head on the road to your stress-free mind palace. If you’re reading this, you’re already halfway there.

        More by this author

        Vladimir Zivanovic

        CMO at MyCity-Web

        Successful People Seldom Worry Too Much Because They Master This Thinking Skill 5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain 7 Coming of Age Books That Should Be on Your Reading List The Active Holiday: 5 Great Activities for Adventurous Spirits Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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