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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 September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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