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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Reduce Mental Stress Quickly (And Naturally)

How to Reduce Mental Stress Quickly (And Naturally)

Mental stress has become pandemic, and for many it is a default state in everyday life.[1] Learning how to reduce stress, then, is becoming more and more important.

Mental stress can be defined as:

An inward tension or pressure caused by the inability to manage the incoming information of outside stimuli.

In one of my recent (active) meditation sessions on how to reduce stress, a participant said they often got stressed quickly for no apparent reason and asked for a quick way to reduce stress. I said there is a way to learn how to reduce stress, but to be able to do it, you need to understand how and why stress builds up so quickly.

If we get stressed often and quickly, it means that we are harboring many internal conflicts and are not conscious of them. This makes it impossible to get rid of stress quickly. First, we must learn what causes mental stress.

What Causes Mental Stress?

Its origin is triggered by a signal from outside stimuli — a piece of information of an objective or subjective nature, or both at once. The mental stress develops very slowly at the beginning. We cannot observe its development because of our lack of understanding of mental energy.

The information we receive from the outside (which we dislike), creates a feeling that evolves into a negative emotion (negative mental energy). For example, the inability to understand or accept other people’s point of view can cause mental stress.

My Personal Experience with Mental Stress

In my late twenties, I struggled consistently with mental stress. I was happy to work in a global corporation and also excited to be responsible for many projects at once. Despite the work load I had, I was a victim of mobbing because of my keen engagement towards my tasks. I was physically and mentally exhausted because of the many complex purchase orders I had to place for the projects assigned to me. On top of that, there were certain people in the organization giving me hard time because of my desire to strive to improve.

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There was an immediate disharmony between me and these people that generated a feeling of intolerance and non-acceptance. This grew into feelings of disappointment and frustration, which ended up creating emotion of anger and anxiety over not performing well or losing my job.

Day in, and day out, I was stressed. I understood that the people and the circumstances causing my mental stress wouldn’t change, so I had to understand that, accept it, and find a way to approach my stress and conflicts efficiently. I saw it as a challenge and was grateful for it. I not only reduced my mental stress but found a way to never let it develop again.

How to Reduce Stress

There is many techniques you can use when learning how to reduce stress quickly and naturally. The sooner you can make it your own, the quicker you’ll be able to reduce your mental stress.

A technique is applied successfully when its essence is really understood and absorbed. If a technique is to be applied quickly, there must be extensive knowledge of the situation in which the technique is required.

In the context of mental stress, for example, we get scared and anxious in (sometimes normal) situations because we don’t know what is happening or what is going to happen. The uncertainty of the result causes tension and mental stress. The longer we move in that uncertainty, the greater and heavier our mental stress becomes.

The accomplishment of being able to deal with challenges and stressful life situations boosts our self-confidence and makes life meaningful and successful. However, this requires a certain expertise, and that expertise starts with self-inquiry and the development of a technique. To own a technique, we must develop activities into tools and apply them.

Activities + Tools + Practice = Technique.

Stress Relieving Activities

Starting with some stress relieving activities is a good way to get moving on your journey to learning how to reduce mental stress. Below are some examples of stress relieving activities:

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  1. Observing and enjoying nature
  2. Taking long walks in the park
  3. Talking with those we are close to
  4. Doing sports
  5. Listening to music
  6. Singing
  7. Dancing

All of the above are great stress relieving activities. However, they are not techniques that can teach you to understand the nature of mental stress, reduce it successfully, and even eliminate it entirely.

Being busy complying with daily duties, we have almost no time to devote to these stress relieving activities. We use them out of necessity as tools to reduce stress, and after the activity is finished, the mental stress crawls back and overtakes us again.

Then, most of us find simple activities like eating, entertaining, shopping, gambling, drugs, etc. as a shortcut to temporarily relieve stress. These generally end up creating negative long-term consequences like obesity, fatigue, boredom, depression, and so on.

As a result, mental stress clouds our mental clarity, withdrawing our creativity, not letting our intelligence to expand, and leaving us without motivation to deal with the root-cause of it all.

The technique I am about to describe here uses the activities mentioned above to create tools, the main elements of your own technique. As mentioned before:

Activity + Tools + Practice = Technique

Simple Tools for Creating a Technique to Reduce Mental Stress

Apply one of the greatest mental energies as tools to any of the above stress relieving activities to create your own individual technique:

Gratitude

When you evoke the emotion of gratitude to any of your activities, you switch your mental state from stressful to peaceful (grateful). When you consciously acknowledge gratitude toward the present, you send information to your brain that immediately soothes your central nervous system, producing positive hormones like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones reduce your mental stress and create a good feeling, a feeling of reward for having reached a goal.[2]

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Also, try to be grateful for the stressors that challenge your efficiency and signal an opportunity to improve.

Conscious Breathing

Support this activity though rhythmic, conscious breathing and intensify your gratefulness and the feeling of that reward. Use your conscious breathing to create a breathing pattern that will identify the moment as one in which you’ve created safety, peace, and self-respect within yourself.

Use these two tools to approach the seven activities listed above or any other activities you find as stress relieving, and practice integrating them in ways that work for you.

Once you merge the tools with the activities, you’ll be able to create your personal technique to reduce your mental stress quickly and naturally and apply it in literally any activity.

A Comprehensive Stress Management Technique

Apart from calming a busy mind, where you apply the techniques physiologically to reduce thoughts and calm the mind, here we need deeper expertise and the application of subtle energies to create specific thoughts to reduce and eliminate mental stress.

For fast results, one thing is to keep the mind calm and reduce stress, but more importantly you need to train the mind to stay busy and efficient. We will work with a two-in-one technique here.

Step 1

Identify the stressor (the root-cause of your stress). You can discover this by being aware of your surroundings and of your reactions to it; is it the person and her/his actions/behavior that are causing my stress? Is it the idea I have about how things are happening around me (at work or at home)?

Be realistic with yourself in identifying the root-cause of your stress. No one can do it more quickly.

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After you have identified the stressor, generate specific thoughts, such as, “I am grateful for this challenge, and I will find a way to accept it as is and work on changing my approach and reaction to it.” Once you achieve this, the stressor has no longer the same level of influence on you.

Step 2

Develop/apply the stress relieving activity together with the tool, and approach the stressor when you’re ready (don’t forget the specific thoughts from Step 1).

For example, your boss, your husband, your wife, or your teenage children are giving you a hard time. It takes only minutes to understand and accept that they can’t do better than that. Be grateful for this realization. They are a part of your life. You have paved your way, step by step, and you are partially responsible for being in this situation with them. If this situation is not life threatening, then it is nothing but a challenge, an opportunity for growth and development.

Apply gratitude and practice breathing exactly when the stressful situation is happening and not only when walking in the park or when you know that you are safe from the mental stress.

Step 3

Practice these tools and this approach consciously in stress reliving activities, but most importantly in stressful situations, and do it continuously. This way you will develop your own individual technique and become an expert in dealing with your personal stressors.

You will begin to notice a change, and you’ll see how your approach is characterized by gratitude, patience, and tolerance. Communicate these qualities to your challenger and let him/her see your approach and good intentions as they are the main elements of your technique.

Final Thoughts

In a matter of days, by simply applying your own technique, you can reduce mental stress quickly and naturally. The technique that you create will make you the expert of your own actions and eventually of your own life.

The technician always owns the technique that is to be performed. Be the technician of your stress and of your life. I salute the spirit in you!

More Tips on Reducing Stress

Featured photo credit: Haley Phelps via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science Direct: Mental Stress
[2] Healthline: Serotonin

More by this author

Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have – spiritual freedom.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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