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12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

If you clicked on this article you probably feel stressed right now. There are many things that make us feel anxious – an awkward conversation with the boss, family issues or a fight with your partner.The good news is that you can instantly fight back the “S Word” with these simple tips to destress. Take a deep breath. Ready? Now relax!

1. Go for a walk

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    Yes, it’s as simple as that. Ten minutes outside will help you clear your mind and boost endorphins – a powerful antidote to stress hormones. Have a stroll in a park, go out to the garden and plan an escape into the wood on the weekends. Nature is one of the most powerful (and free!) stress-relievers out there as a recent study proved. If you cannot step outside right now, find a window with a view on something leafy and green and take your “zen” moment. Solely visual encounters with nature, as well, have actionable positive influences on your psychological and physiological states.

    2. Buy a plant

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      Did you know that a small pot on your desk can actually help you to calm down? A research conducted by Washington State University proved that being around plants drastically reduces anxiety and drops blood pressure. For an easier breathe, get a snake plant for your office. It absorbs carbon dioxide during the day and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do it vice versa), so that your morning begins with clean-air boost to kick-start your productivity. Or a spider plant – still one of the most effective air-purifying plants according the NASA study in late 80s. It consumes and transforms harmful pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and more, thus making us healthier and more content.

      3. Do a quick breathing exercise

      One of the oldest techniques discovered nearly 3000 years from Ayurveda practices is gaining control of your “pranayama” – the life force or simply, your breath. Deep breathing stimulates parasympathetic reactions in our body, which helps us to relieve the tension and calm down. Shallow quick breathing does not allow our body to get enough oxygen and is considered as a “fight or flight” reaction by our brains, thus provoking stress. According to Herbert Benson, a researcher from Harvard, short periods of meditation, using breathing as a focus, can significantly alter the body’s stress response and even change the expression of some genes. Here are a few simple techniques to try:

      • Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”: deeply inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. All through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Keep the focus on the same thought while doing the exercise.
      • Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”: start with a long, slow inhale, followed by a rapid, powerful exhale coming from the lower belly. Once you feel more comfortable with the contraction, speed up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.

      4. Chew a gum

      Feeling overwhelmed with ongoing tasks? Chew a gum to stay focused and reduce your anxiety. According to Andrew Scholey from Swinburne University in Melbourne, using a chewing gum while balancing numerous tasks improves overall attentiveness and effectiveness. During the research gum-chewers performed 67% better on multi-tasks and showed a reduction in anxiety by 17% during mild stress and 10% in moderate stress situations compared to non-chewers.

      5. Squeeze out a smile

      Even a phony fake smile will reduce your stress levels according to the “facial feedback” theory of emotion. Our brains constantly analyze changes in our body from posture and muscle pressure to facial expression, thus judging how you actually feel right now.  In simple words if you act like a happy person, you’ll start feeling like one! Is there nothing to cheer you up right now? Place a pencil vertically between your teeth to mimic a genuine smile. As another research proved, participants who were holding a pencil vertically in their mouth felt less stressed when solving a mental challenge and reported to endure less pain while going through the pain induction.

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      6. Eat a banana, potato or an avocado

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        All of them contain a lot of potassium – a property known to reduce blood pressure jumping sky high as you feel stressed. The also help your body to gain the necessary energy for recovery and even protect you from negative stress-related consequences like strokes and heart attacks.

        7. Listen to some music

        Music is known to have a lot of healing powers. It can reduce both the distress of chronic and postoperative pains; relieve depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people; reduce burnouts and improve the mood among pressured nursing students. It even makes patients less anxious and stressed before surgery. Classical music has a particularly soothing effect – it calms down the heart rate, cuts back the amount of stress hormones and reduces blood pressure. However, it could be any of your favorite songs to flood your brain with “the happiness hormone” – dopamine.

        8. Do progressive muscle relaxation exercises

        Researches have found that a series of simple progressive muscle relaxation exercises once a week significantly reduces blood pulse, pressure and overall anxiety even for people suffering clinical depression or other psychological disorders. Sit down, close your eyes and tighten your foot muscles (starting from toes) as much as you can. Than relax. Gradually make you way up tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve reached your forehead. The exercises works miracles when done with a soothing tune in your headphones.

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        9. Treat yourself with something sweet

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          Eat a candy or a piece of cookie (one piece!) as it is the fastest aid to reduce both psychological and physical stress. Sugar can decrease the production of glucocorticoid – a stress-related hormone linked to decreased immune response and obesity. And yes, that must be something really syrupy, not a low-calorie sugar-substantive variety.

          10. Create Cushions in Your Calendar

          Tight schedules and constant multi-tasking are one of the most common contributors to stress nowadays. When you have a lot of things to cross of your to-do list, you find yourself in a constant hurry, juggling a bunch of things at a time and not being properly focused on any of them. By creating cushions in your calendar you avoid stressful situations in the first place. Always leave enough time from you to reach from point A to point B despite any possible obstacles you may face. If you have an important meeting scheduled for 10 am, go out of home 30 min earlier than your usual time, so you could spend your commuting time calmly revising your notes, instead of rushing and stressing out due to heavy traffic.

          11. Use the Naam yoga hand trick

          Once you feel anxiety rising up, say during difficult negotiations, press a point between your second and third knuckles, just at the spot where your finger and hand meet. It will instantly make you feel calmer! Also, try moving your thumb down the middle finger toward your palm till you feel a soft, slightly indented spot. It should be on the inside of your finger of your palm. Applying medium pressure here will loosen the area around the heart and make your anxiety go away notes Sharon Melnick, author of the “Success Under Stress” program.

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          12. Stop Should-ing Yourself

          After all, we are our own worst enemies in terms of stress. How many times have you told yourself that you should go to that date (but you knew it’s going to be pathetic!), you should meet you old friend (though you had hardly anything in common as you grew up) or that you should go through with the wedding as all the invitation have been sent and tons of money spent? Those “should”s crush your soul and make you feel anxious about making life decisions. As Lissa Rankin, M.D states: “If you ignore the soul’s guidance, the soul may guide you through painful interventions, like loss or illness.” Stay true to yourself and listen to your heart more often! It does no harm to you.

          Featured photo credit: Young girl spreading hands with joy and inspiration facing the sun,sun greeting,freedom concept,bird flying above sign of freedom and liberty via shutterstock.com

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          Elena Prokopets

          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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