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6 Surefire Ways to Manage Stress Now

6 Surefire Ways to Manage Stress Now

We can’t avoid stress: it’s always going to be there, no matter how much we wish otherwise. We can, however, try to minimize our stress by using effective stress-management strategies. It’s not always easy to change the way we deal with pressure, but it is doable. Learning how to manage stress takes time and persistence, but it so impacts the quality of our life that it’s well worth the effort.

Effective Ways to Manage Stress

Eliminate stressors

Though you can’t completely get rid of everything in your life that causes tension, you’d be surprised by the amount you can eliminate. Identify the people, things, and situations that cause the most stress in your life, and then sift out the ones you can avoid, minimize, or get rid of completely and figure out what you need to do to make that happen.

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Some suggestions:

  • Avoid the people who cause you stress. Completely remove them from your life if you can, but if you can’t, limit the amount of time you spend with them. Don’t worry about what people think or if they’ll be offended: if they’re causing you stress, they need to go.
  • Say no. We hear recommendations about that all the time, yet we still don’t do it. Don’t accept responsibility for something that’s not yours, and don’t commit yourself when you’re already over-committed. You have no obligation to set aside your integrity to make someone else happy.
  • Steer clear of things that upset you. If the news causes you anxiety, don’t watch it; turn off the TV or change the channel. Don’t argue over hot button issues. If arguing about politics or religion raises your blood pressure, don’t engage: change the subject.
  • Trim your “to-do” list: don’t do things you think you should; only what you must. Cross off tasks that don’t absolutely have to be done.
  • Lighten your schedule. Don’t over-commit your time,, and give yourself extra time in between appointments.

Reframe problems

If you can’t avoid a stressor, change the way you look at it. When you re-frame a problem, you automatically feel some sense of control, and you’ll lower your stress just by changing your attitude. The attitude you take and the expectations you set may actually be what’s causing the stress. There are many things we absolutely cannot change in life, but we do have the ability to change the way we react to them.

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Some suggestions:

  • Try to view problems as learning opportunities.
  • Lower your expectations, and don’t set standards that neither you nor others can possibly meet. Perfectionism is likely the largest stressor we have, so figure out what’s “good enough”, and be satisfied with that.
  • Look at the bigger picture to get perspective: ask yourself if something really is as important as you think it is. If it won’t matter five years from now, just let it go; it’s not worth the stress it’s causing you to worry about it.
  • Learn to relinquish control. If something is beyond your direct influence, it’s a waste of your energy to stress about it. You’ll just endanger your health and lower the quality of your life over something you can’t do anything about anyway.
  • Accept responsibility. If your actions or choices contributed to the stress, you need to take responsibility for that. When we take ownership of our contribution to problems, we automatically lower our tension.

Take action

We can often lower our stress just by taking action in order to do something, anything to impact the way a problem affects us. Sometimes it’s a significant action, and sometimes it’s just a tiny step, but the important thing is that we do something to change the situation.

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Some suggestions:

  • Communicate your feelings. Telling people that something they have said or done has upset you is often enough to make the stress more manageable. Keeping our feelings bottled up only causes problems to snowball into huge mounds of tension that are hard to overcome.
  • Get support. Talk out your stress with someone you trust. Venting to a friend is very cathartic, as not only do we get our stressful feelings off our chest, but often the other person can provide a different perspective  on actions we can take.
  • Stand up for yourself, and be proactive. Prepare ahead of time to deal with situations that you know cause you worry, and address problems as soon as they happen instead of letting them grow. Don’t tolerate criticism, and don’t allow other people to manipulate you—demand respect.
  • Change the way you do things. Look for tools that can save you time and effort, and try to find a better way to handle a situation. If you don’t know how to do it differently, find resources to help you.

Stay healthy

Good health is of vital importance in managing our stress levels, and it may be the aspect that we have the most control over. Improving our physical health allows us to have the energy and stamina to deal with stress more effectively, while improving our mental health puts us in a better frame of mind so stress doesn’t affect us as much.

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Some suggestions:

  • Get regular physical activity: a few sessions of exercise every week—even short periods of activity every day—can make a significant difference in the quality of your health.
  • Use better fuel by choosing higher-quality foods. You don’t have to eliminate all of your favorites to be healthier; just substitute better ones whenever you can.
  • Get more sleep. The majority of Americans are walking around sleep-deprived. It’s difficult enough to manage stress when we’re well rested, but it’s nearly impossible when we’re exhausted.
  • Be proactive. Go to the doctor for health checkups, and don’t just seek medical help when there’s a serious problem. Make sure to visit your healthcare professional regularly so that you can avoid a problem before it starts, or prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown chronic health issue.

Recharge your batteries

Taking the time to give yourself the attention you need is the single most effective way to manage your stress. It may seem frivolous, selfish even to put a fun and relaxation at the top of your list, but taking care of yourselves actually gives you the energy, stamina, and patience to manage stress more effectively. We get so caught up in the craziness of life that we often forget that we are actually the central force that controls our lives. Recharging is not a luxury, it’s mandatory.

Some suggestions:

  • Make time to relax. Schedule time for relaxation on your calendar if you need to, whatever you need to do to make it a real commitment. Take a break from your problems, your obligations, and responsibilities just for a little while. They’ll still be there later, and you’ll be better able to handle them when you’re well-rested and relaxed.
  • Be social. Spending time with friends and family who support and nurture you provides a healthy support network that can act as a shield against the effects of negativity. Being around other people who are positive and upbeat can have a positive effect on your mood. Happiness is contagious—catch it.
  • Laugh. Being able to laugh at difficult situations not only releases endorphins and lowers blood pressure, but it also allows you to view problems with a lighter attitude. The ability to find the humor in life, even if you’re laughing at yourself, is a very effective way to manage stress.
  • Regularly do things that nurture you, instead of drain you. Read a good book, go for a walk, listen to music, play with your pets, take a bath, call a friend, or watch a movie you love.

The bottom line is that while tension can’t be eliminated, it can be managed. If we learn to incorporate some of these stress-management strategies into our lives, we can actually avoid some common stressors and learn to handle the rest in a calmer and healthier way.

More by this author

Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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