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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?

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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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