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7 Simple Ways to Lower Your Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

7 Simple Ways to Lower Your Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

Everyone feels overwhelmed and stressed sometimes.

  • Maybe you have a family situation that needs extra time and attention.
  • Maybe you have a particular co-worker that just somehow grates on your very last nerve.
  • Maybe you are ill or some you love is ill.

So what can you do when you feel angry, overwhelmed and stressed about the things you really have little control over?

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I believe that if you add preventative stress management into your daily lifestyle you can more easily control how you handle your reaction to the stressful situations that crop up.

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I would like to say that you can eliminate stress completely — but I can’t. However, there is a lot you can do to prepare yourself so when you are faced with these situations you can handle them with grace, an inner calm, and compassion.

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Follow these simple steps to invite peace and harmony into your life:

  1. Exercise. One way to work off stress and anxiety is to get moving. You can join a gym, work out in your bedroom or garage, or just take a walk. It’s a great way to get your endorphins going and feel happier.  You can also try exercising together with your family. One of the benefits of exercising together is that you’ll all feel calmer afterward. When you’re all de-stressed together, you can help one another through issues. To help you get started with exercising: How to Be Healthy and Lose Fat: The 3 Minute HIT Health Hack That Helps Burn Fat
  2. Smile. Smiling and laughing is one of the best ways to instantly lighten your mood.  A good joke with a friend, a good movie with your partner or just smiling at the sun shine.
  3. Listen to music. Try doing something mentally soothing to keep stress at bay. Music is one of the best ways to relax and de-stress, and it’s popular with people of all ages, income levels, and other factors. Pick the music you like; it’s usually more effective, though, when you choose something quiet. Listen to music that makes you feel rested and calm.  Try several different musical styles – you’ll know when you’re listening to something that works for you. And once you’ve located it, you can listen whenever you need to for a calming break.
  4. Read. Reading is also a good way to de-stress. Choose a lighthearted book that’s comical, romantic, or otherwise makes you feel good. You can also read a religious or spiritual book if you’re so inclined. Any book that gives a good, positive message about the world or the people in it can help you feel better and be more relaxed. Courtney has compiled a great list of books: 10 Must-Reads to Tap Into Your True Potential
  5. Visualization. Picture an idyllic and peaceful scene, such as a meadow or a beach, and use all of your senses. Do you smell jasmine in the air? Can you hear the birds singing and feel the light breeze on your skin? Your body can’t tell the difference between a thought and a real event, so bring your peaceful scene to mind the next time you’re feeling anxious. You can visualize the stress flowing out of your body or running off your back like water. You can visualize growing roots, just like an old oak tree, you can feel the stress draining into the earth and being absorbed my mother nature.
  6. Be grateful. When you’re feeling stressed, try counting your blessings. Write them down in a gratitude journal. There is always something you can be thankful for… sometimes it is as simple as waking up. Think about all the things that are good in your life.  When you focus on gratitude, you’ll also see more of the good in your life. When you think negatively, it’s easier to feel angry and stressed. Positive thinking, on the other hand, helps diffuse your anger and brings you more good things to feel good about!
  7. Breathe. When you are caught up in those really strong emotions that come with stress and overwhelm, take a moment to take a few slow, deep breaths. This action has multiple benefits. When you breathe deeply, it sends extra oxygen to your brain for clarity of thought and relaxes your muscles. It also gives you a moment to take a mental step back and look at the bigger picture.

When you give yourself time to think first, you’re much less likely to lash out, either verbally or physically. You can then approach the issue feeling calmer. By using the tools suggested here to help you stay positive, you can get a handle on your stress and enjoy greater happiness in your life.

Inspired Actions

Take just one idea, add 15 minutes, and feel your stress winding down. Leave a comment below to let me know how it went.

(Photo credit: Portrait of Sadness and Stress via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

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.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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