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10 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

10 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

Stress can appear in our lives at any time with varying levels of intensity. It could arise from a conversation you have or get triggered from an event that takes places. Stress can even emerge after a slow build up, with one event pushing you over the edge. No matter how it’s caused, the fact is consistent stress in our body is not only detrimental to our health; it’s also preventable and unnecessary.

Physiologically, stress exists as our body’s response to life threatening situations. When we feel endangered, our nervous system responds by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is our body’s way of protecting us through the “fight or flight” stress response. In emergency situations stress can help us stay alert, energetic, and give us superhuman strength to get out of danger.

Once the threatening event is over, our body is designed to return back to its natural calm and relaxed state. Although life-threatening situations are not as common in Western Society, what is common is for people to be constantly living in “flight or fight” mode. Staying in this mode over extended periods of time can cause health problems such as nervous system disorders and fatigue. This in turn can create ongoing anxiety as we are constantly on alert waiting for a crisis to happen at any time. For a lot of us, entering the office switches our body into a life-threatening state.

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Next time your chest gets tight or you feel overwhelmed, try these techniques for instant relief.

1. Focus on your breath.

Your thoughts are directly related to your breath. If you have a tight chest, worried thoughts, or feel anxious, chances are, you are breathing too fast or shallow. Slow down your breath to balance your mind by inhaling for a count of 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds.

2. Cool down.

Cooling down your mind and body re-balances your energy and allows you to take action from a more centered place. An ancient yogi technique to cool down your mind and body is shitali pranayam. Open your mouth slightly, curl your tongue and allow it to slightly protrude past your lips. Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. If you can’t curl your tongue, inhale through a round O mouth instead. Try this technique for 2–3 minutes.

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3. Pause.

If you react too soon during stressful situations, you may say or do things you later regret. Unless you are in an emergency situation, your response can often wait at least a few seconds. Transform the pattern of immediately responding to taking the time to pause, breathe, get calm, and gather yourself. Then respond verbally or by taking action.

4. Get out in nature.

Getting out in nature has an instant calming effect. Whether you choose to sit on a beach to hear the waves crash, walk through a lush green forest, listen to the sounds of a nearby waterfall or hike up mountains, just get yourself outside and allow nature to put everything back into perspective.

5. Mindfully exercise.

Exercise releases natural adrenaline and endorphins that make you feel good. Add more mindfulness to your workout by focusing intently on the activity you are doing. Observe your technique and how it makes you feel. Get connected to your body. This workout window allows you to get fit and even take a break from your stress. Head outside and run or cycle, hit the gym, or attend a yoga class. Working out during your lunch beak also allows you stay more focused and calm when you return to work.

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6. Take a cold shower.

Hydrotherapy is a precise and sophisticated science with a multitude of benefits for your body and mind. As well as reducing stress, cold showers open up your capillaries which when returned to normal push the blood back to your organs. This causes a flush effect in the heart, kidneys lungs and liver. This process stimulates the healthy secretion of the glandular system, which leaves your skin radiant and keeps your blood chemistry young healthy. Remember to start with outer extremities—feet, hands, and arms.

7. Put on relaxing music.

Everything is made up of energy including both our bodies and music. Music has the power to instantly transform your energy whether that’s by lifting you up or pulling you down. Choose music that is uplifting in tone, lyrics, and beat so your body’s energy can match this higher energy frequency. Positive music also helps create more positive thoughts.

8. Give gratitude.

Whatever you are stressed about is just a thought pattern or belief. You’re ultimately in control of your thoughts (even if it often doesn’t feel that way). Two people could be in exactly the same situation and only one could feel stressed because they have a negative thought pattern. So take a break from worry or panic and make a list of what you are grateful for in your life—whether that’s having a roof over your head, living in a nice city, having a vehicle that gives you freedom etc. List around 10 things.

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9. Visualize success.

Prevent your mind from imagining the “worst case scenario” or “what if” by visualizing and focusing your whole attention on what you want to bring into your life, not the fears of what you don’t want. Remember where your attention goes energy flows, which means you can’t afford to spend anytime engaged in picturing what you don’t want.

10. Drink a green smoothie.

Get a natural mental boost from the phytochemicals of green vegetables. Smoothies are a great way to gain all the nutrients from vegetables and fruit as all the content remains in the drink. Green smoothies can also help strengthen your immune system, eliminate unhealthy cravings (which can cause more stress), and give your brain more energy. Try kale, spinach, ginger, and lemon with a touch of banana and blueberries.

Featured photo credit: Matthew Wiebe via unsplash.com

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Kelly Weiss

Purpose-driven business + lifestyle coach

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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