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6 Things Anyone Can Do To Greatly Lower their Stress Levels

6 Things Anyone Can Do To Greatly Lower their Stress Levels

The feeling is one of sickening familiarity. A tightening in your chest. Beads of sweat spilling off your skin. An aggressive buzzing in your brain that feels like someone has stuffed a disturbed hornets’ nest inside your head. It’s one of the most overwhelming emotions that every single human is forced to contend with almost on a daily basis. Panic, anxiety, and helplessness all violently crammed into one unpleasant little parcel: the sensation of stress.

No one is exempt or safe from this exhausting emotion. Not even that happy-go-lucky chap you see strolling down the street whistling “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”. Even he will succumb to the overpowering thud of stress from time to time. Whilst it may be of no solace to hear that you’re not the only one who occasionally feels like their head may explode, the fact that everyone has stressful episodes remains a valid point. Stress, whichever way you look at it, is part of the human condition. If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s finding ways to deal with the issues the body can create, and make life easier for ourselves as a result.

Stress is so common that many people choose to ignore it, knowing it will ease up by the time they hit the hay. Without apposite management, stress can manifest itself into something much more serious. Listed here are 6 proven ways to cope with stress, allowing you to continue living your life in a healthy, happy manner.

1. Breathe

The stress-relief technique that pretty much everyone’s heard of, the act of breathing nonetheless remains an important point as any when it comes to cooling down the angry blood that’s raging around your body. Taking a long, deep breath to calm yourself in stressful situations isn’t just one of those old wives’ tales that your grandmother used to swear by – it’s medically proven to be beneficial.

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Slow, deep breathing distracts the mind from whatever else might be going on, and actively lowers the bubbling blood that’s brought on by stress. What’s more, cortisol – a hormone released in the body in response to stress – is significantly lowered after taking long inhalations of fresh air, allowing your brain and body to return to their normal functions. It may sound strange, but practicing breathing can help you to build up a tolerance towards the impact that stress has on your life. By partaking in yoga sessions, engaging in frequent breathing exercises, and meditating, you can train your body to become one big relaxation machine – counteracting the horrid effects when Mr Stress comes a-calling.

2. Write

Stress can build up in anyone who is left to their own thoughts for too long. Without a frequent source of release, the mind can become clouded with concern, panic, and extreme frustration. Humans weren’t meant to be left to their own imaginations.

Instead of allowing a bewildering jumble of thoughts and ideas to bump around inside your head, let them tumble out onto your computer keyboard or notepad instead. Type away at your desk and channel your emotions into your hard-drive. Scribble your feelings onto a piece of paper. They don’t even have to make sense. Just punch away at your computer on a day-to-day basis for five or ten minutes, and you might be surprised at how light, airy and carefree you feel afterwards.

3. Walk

One of the most effective techniques for dealing with stress often raises a few eyebrows, but a whole host of scientific evidence exists to suggest that walking is one of the best methods available.

If you’re ever feeling the tension building up in your brain and body, drop everything and simply go for a stroll. Keep yourself at a nice, leisurely pace, and breathe normally. Walking provides your body with an ideal outlet for the build-up of energy that stress can create, and acts as a sensory distraction for the brain as your mind is forced to take in a plethora of sights, smells, sounds and signals.

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After you try it once, and undoubtedly recognize its benefits, be sure to make exercise a regular thing. Providing the body with a healthy, frequent method of releasing accumulated energy is a great way to help fend off the effects that stress can impose, and ultimately keeps you fit and healthy as a result.

4. Laugh

If you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is laughing. But if you are able to muster up even the smallest chuckle during your day, you’ll soon begin to find that the effects of stress slowly slip away.

When we laugh, the body releases happy hormones called endorphins, which actively counteract the blood-boiling chemicals that are produced when stress hits home. Laughing allows us to take in a momentous supply of fresh oxygen from the air, stimulating the muscles and providing our system with some healthy shock treatment that eases tension brought on by stress.

If you ever begin to experience that oh-so-familiar feeling amplifying inside you, take a break to flick through some online joke sites, watch some funny YouTube clips, or scroll through some old photos of you and your family/friends that always cheer you up. Laughing is something we need to do every day to stay healthy, and is great way to keep the nasty effects of stress at bay.

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5. Friends

Surrounding yourself with the people you love can ultimately be half the battle to combating stress. Even the most confident people feel most comfortable when in the company of others that they’ve come to know and love, and whilst going out to meet new guys and girls often has great results in the long-term, it can often be a difficult and mildly stressful experience initially.

If you ever catch yourself with your chin in your hands and a throb in your head, reach for the phone, ring someone you love, and arrange to do something fun. Even sitting at home with a cup of tea and a friend can really help to relieve high levels of stress as it focuses your mind onto something you love. What’s more, it gives you a perfect outlet to vent some frustration. After all, that’s what friends are for.

6. Sleep

More recently in society, the human body has been forced to adapt to being constantly surrounded by moving images. Of course, this wasn’t always the case, and the constant exposure to glowing screens is in fact able to generate stress given how it prevents us from sleeping correctly.

Basically our lives are balanced by circadian rhythms – a set of strict patterns that the body operates by so that we can eat, sleep, rest, play and function without feeling constantly drained. Ultimately, high exposure to glowing screens disrupts our circadian rhythms, meaning that when it’s time to hit the sack, the body doesn’t necessarily feel ready to shut down.

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Sleep is absolutely essential for avoiding high stress levels. Everyone needs good amounts of rest, and by remaining glued to a computer screen for the entire day without taking a break, your body will suffer the consequences, and stress will rise as a result. Take frequent breaks away from the screen, get some sleep, and see your stress ease up.  

Featured photo credit: Teenage girl depression – lost love – isolated on white background via shutterstock.com

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Gareth Lloyd

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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