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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 July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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