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10 Unconventional Ways to Reduce Stress

10 Unconventional Ways to Reduce Stress

I’ve always been known as someone who’s perma-stressed: for whatever reason, my body reacts to everything (even relaxing!) with a sense of urgency. The usual tips offered to reduce stress have never worked for me. It wasn’t until I started searching for unconventional methods that I struck gold: I’m now finally able to successfully reduce my stress level and enjoy guilt-free relaxation.

Here are 10 unconventional ways to reduce stress that work for me, and I hope you find they work for you too:

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1. Massage your ears.

Massaging your ears to reduce stress is simple, effective, and only takes a few minutes. Gently rub your earlobes with your thumb and index finger, then squeeze the outer edges of your ears from bottom to top. These parts of your ears have reflex points that relax specific areas of your body.

2. Up your intake of vitamin C.

Studies have shown vitamin C reduces both the physical and psychological effects of stress. During uber-stressful times, increase your vitamin C intake.

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3. Consider your mind a bus terminal.

When your mind is feeling restless and you’re struggling to calm down, it’s important to find techniques that help you successfully disengage with your thoughts. One that works for me is pretending each thought I’m having is a bus with a sign showing a particular destination: do I really want my emotions to go where that bus is going to take them? If not, I watch it drive away.

4. Mask jarring sounds.

If you live in a noisy building or on a bustling street, the constant noise keeps your mind active and on guard, which also leads to physical stress. Put some soothing music on in the background, or try a white noise machine, which emits a consistent, soothing sound. Ear plugs work, too.

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5. Surround yourself with calming colors and scents.

Colors such as white, blue, green, and other soft colors will help sooth your nervous system, whereas bright colors like orange and yellow will stimulate and energize you. Create a corner of your home specifically for relaxation. Surround yourself with colors, scents (such as lavender, jasmine, and rose), and items that trigger emotional harmony.

6. Eat slower.

Not only does it aid healthy digestion, but eating slowly also encourages mindfulness. This is a very challenging habit to develop, especially in a society where we’re constantly bombarded with restless thoughts and feelings of urgency. If all else fails, pretend you’re a restaurant critic who has to review the quality of your meal.

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7. Talk slower.

How do you feel after going on a tangent and talking really fast? Likely, your heart’s racing, your body’s tense and your breathing’s shallow. The next time you’re having a conversation, practice mindfulness: focus on the moment-to-moment banter instead of rushing to the next topic. Once this becomes second nature, you’ll find your conversations much more rewarding, and you’ll feel physically and emotionally balanced.

8. Schedule unscheduled time.

Carve out mini-retreats for yourself at least twice a week: a few hours of unscheduled time where you can do what you’re compelled to do, not what you feel you have to do. It’s a great way to allow your body and mind to recover from a stressful work week or hectic social gathering. During this time, do whatever you feel like doing in the moment, guilt-free.

9. Learn how to say no.

We’ve all been there: we automatically say yes to an invitation or request while our stomach screams, “No!” If in the moment you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure what to say, simply say, “I’ll have to get back to you.” This will give you time to make an informed decision that truly benefits your life. If you know you definitely don’t want to say yes, say no as quickly as you’d rip off a band-aid. Trust me: it gets easier, and the more you do it, the more others will respect your boundaries.

10. Cry your fool head off.

Sometimes we want to cry, but the timing’s not right: either we’re at work or socializing, and by the time we’re alone the feeling has passed. I highly encourage you to watch a sad scene on a television show or in a movie to force your emotions back to the surface. When your manganese level is high, it causes anxiety, nervousness, irritability and aggression. When you cry, you lower your manganese level, elevating your mood and lowering stress.

What methods do you use to reduce stress?

More by this author

Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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