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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

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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