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12 Clever Ways to Minimize Stress

12 Clever Ways to Minimize Stress

We live in a stressful world and being able to manage stress effectively can have a huge impact upon our quality of life. Stress affects each of us in different ways, and it is important to be aware of your unique stress “signals”. Stress signals fall into four categories: thoughts (intolerant, self critical), feelings (anxiety,irritability) behaviors (tearful,addictive behavior), and physical symptoms (fatigue, sleep disturbances,tension in body). Here are clever tricks to minimize stress levels and reduce its negative effects.

1. Acceptance

Instead of resisting what life throws at you and feeling sorry for yourself with statements like “Why me?” and “It’s so unfair”, it pays to accept what has happened. This doesn’t mean you have to become passive and give up though. When you accept the situation and stop wasting energy on “why” you can begin to deal with finding solutions. Acceptance can minimize stress and frees up positive energy for finding resolution and looking forwards instead of staying stuck in the past that cannot be undone.

2. Mindfulness

When we consider all our troubles together, they can seem insurmountable. Break your issues down into smaller chunks and deal with one at a time. Focus on the task at hand and be present in the moment. How often have you caught yourself worrying about the past (it can’t be changed) or obsessing over the future (it’s not here yet)? When you do this, you steal the joy and power away from the present moment. Stay in the moment as much as possible. Engage your senses and be involved with your immediate surroundings.

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3. Unhook from your thoughts

Together with mindfulness, unhooking from your thoughts can help minimize stress immensely. When we pay attention to a fearful thought it can rapidly ‘spiral’ into a catastrophe in our mind. Thoughts are not facts, they are merely our perception of reality. How many times have you become anxious thinking about an upcoming event only to find it wasn’t half as scary as you imagined? Remind yourself of this regularly and try not to take your thoughts too seriously.

4. Laugh lots

A sense of humor can carry you a long way when the going gets tough.Try not to take life too seriously. Make an effort to see the funny side of life and add perspective to the situation by asking yourself if you will still feel this stressed tomorrow, next week…next month. Laughing releases endorphins. Two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that alleviates depression) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with immunity) increase when we laugh. Minimise stress by laughing more.

5. Get enough sleep

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, you hinder your body’s natural restorative process. In a study in Prevention Magazine, young, healthy sleep-deprived subjects had the hormonal profiles of much older people. It’s clear – spend more time in bed.

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6. Bounce on a trampoline

Trampolining can help combat depression, anxiety and minimize stress by increasing the amount of endorphins released by the brain. Regular  sessions on a trampoline can help you relax, promote better sleeping patterns and give your more energy. Exercising on a trampoline increases the circulation of oxygen around your body, making you more alert and improving mental performance. If you don’t have access to a trampoline, any form of exercise will help to minimize stress.

7. Play with a pet

Animals are great stress relievers. Studies show that animals can minimize stress and improve mood.Research has found that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and boost levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. One study of Chinese women found that dog owners exercised more often, slept better, reported better fitness levels and fewer sick days, and saw their doctors less often than people without dogs.

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8.Talk to someone

Bottling up your stress and the associated emotions can make the problem worse. Talking to someone you trust about what you are experiencing can make a big difference. Often, we get caught up in erroneous patterns of thinking that keep us in the same negative cycle thereby maintaining stress levels. Talking to someone and gaining a new perspective can often help minimize stress.

9. Remind yourself you’re not alone

Stress is increasing worldwide. You are certainly not alone in experiencing stress. Be a forward thinker though and you’ll be one step ahead of the crowd. Know your stress triggers and find positive strategies to curb stress levels. A common side effect of modern life is stress, anxiety and tension. Instead of trying to ignore it, accepting and being aware of your stress levels (rate yourself daily of it helps from 0 (no stress) -10 (extremely stressed) can help you prevent burn out. If you reach a 6 or higher, it is time for a break or a different strategy.As a Psychologist in private practice, I can honestly say I have never met anyone professionally (or personally) that doesn’t experience stress on some level.

10. Make something

Occupational therapy can be soothing and take your mind off your worries. It can also be satisfying to create something. Making something provides a welcome distraction from your worries and the accompanying stress.

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11. Identify the source

Identifying what exactly is stressing you out is a step in the right direction. Once you have figured out what causes the most stress in your life, decide what is within your control and get to work changing what is possible to change. If there is absolutely nothing you can do refer to any of the above points.

12. Learn to say “no”

Being assertive can minimize stress by cutting down on responsibilities and pressures from others. It is up to you to manage your time effectively and to be assertive when necessary. If you don’t learn to say “no”, you will be stressing yourself out unnecessarily and will end up resentful.

 

When we feel stressed, our bodies experience the fight/flight/freeze response. Modern society results in many of us remaining in this stressful state indefinitely. This causes certain chemical responses and keeps us on ‘high alert’ constantly. This exhausts the body and stops us from functioning optimally. Learn to manage stress and you will also age well and in all likelihood – live longer.

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoetnet/4851436544/ via flickr.com

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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