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Ten Ways to Beat Stress and Anxiety

Ten Ways to Beat Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a part of modern life and there is no way to avoid it. Therefore it pays to know how to reduce stress and anxiety in order to function as well as possible without buckling under the strain. Once you know how to manage stress, it becomes a lot easier to live with. Here are fantastic ways to alleviate stress and enjoy a more carefree existence

1. Exercise

Exercise has proven time and time again to reduce the effects of stress. The psychological benefits of exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers.

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2. Maintain a sense of humor/laugh a lot

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress and anxiety. Nothing works faster lighten the load and help you feel more lighthearted. Humor lightens your load, inspires hope, connects you to others and keeps you grounded. Laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body and allows the body to release hormones known as endorphins that promote an overall sense of physical and emotional well-being. Laugh every day and stress will be minimized.

3. Watch your thinking

Thoughts lead to emotions which in turn lead to behavior. When you monitor your thinking, you alter the associated emotions and behavior. Think thoughts that work for you and you will automatically reduce stress and anxiety. We all have a tendency to work ourselves up by worrying and thinking of the worst possible scenario. This only adds to stress. Ensure that you challenge your thinking regularly. Ask yourself where the evidence is – just because you feel a certain way does not mean that it is real.

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4. Take time out – balance in life is essential

All work and no play leads to a life that is out of kilter. A lopsided life will inevitably lead to stress and anxiety. It’s important to maintain a balance and keep your eye on the bigger picture. I often remind my clients that there is only one of them yet the company that they work for will still carry on. People feel such loyalty to almost kill themselves for their employers. There is a lack of balance and perspective and it is often only once physical health problems kick in that people sit and take notice. Take preventative measures and introduce balance into your life before your health is affected.

5. Express yourself. Be assertive

When you stifle your needs and allow others to take over, this suppression can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Learn to say “no” and stop pleasing others. The more you stand up for yourself the easier it is to keep stress and anxiety in check.

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6. Maintain Perspective

When we are stressed, we tend to exaggerate the possible consequences of our situations which only makes stress and anxiety worse. Try to detach from the situation by asking yourself whether this current problem will still matter six months from now. Sometimes it helps to imagine yourself on a balcony looking down on yourself. From this detached position it is often easier to maintain perspective and remove yourself emotionally from the situation. Once you have detached, it is easier to think clearly and reduce stress and anxiety effectively.

7. Stop trying to please others

If you live your life for others, you ignore your own needs at your own peril. It is never a good idea to put other people’s needs constantly ahead of your own. This can lead to resentment and inner tension. It’s almost as if an inner toxin develops when we do not honor our own needs. This does not mean you have to be selfish but when we try to be martyrs for too long this inevitably ends up being counterproductive.

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8. Follow your own path

In order to be truly happy, it is important to know what it is that gives you that pleasant buzz. That feeling when time flies and you feel alive. Make time for those activities in life that inspire you and fill you with positive energy. Energy awareness is vital in managing stress levels. When we spend time with emotional vampires, they suck positive energy out of us. Limit your time with these people and be aware of where you get your positive energy. Fill up those coffers!

9. Love what you do

Quality of life is important if you want to reduce stress and anxiety. Common sense suggests that if you spend a large amount of your life doing things you really don’t enjoy, this will influence your mood and increase your stress levels. As far as possible, engineer a life that is full of activities that you love. Find your passion and incorporate it into your life as much as possible. Watch your self limiting beliefs and believe that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

10. Be selective about the news you watch or listen to

We are receptive beings and we are constantly influenced by our surroundings. Be aware of your environment and what you are exposing yourself to in terms of positive and negative energy. Often, the news can be a source of negative energy and can lead to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Of course, it is a good thing to be informed about the world but be aware of the effect this has on you and if you find that you are easily influenced by others and your surroundings, limit your time watching informative programs of a negative nature.

It is a good idea to figure out what works for you and have an anti-stress strategy. Whether that’s regular exercise, achieving more of a work/leisure balance or making time to follow your passion, it’s vital to prepare a system that you can call upon when you feel frazzled. Energy awareness is key in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Limit negative energy sources (difficult people, negative media stories etc) and increase  positive energy sources (fun music, inspirational people, exercise etc) to maintain a relatively stress and anxiety free life.

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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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