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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 July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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