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3 Ways to Reduce Stress in 15 Minutes / Day (Without Exercising!)

3 Ways to Reduce Stress in 15 Minutes / Day (Without Exercising!)

A typical morning at my house begins like this:

• My daughter wakes me up at 5am and starts chattering nonstop like some sort of broken wind up doll.
• My dogs are whining and wanting their morning exercise.
• My husband rolls over and grumbles, reminding me that it’s never a good idea to bother a hibernating bear.
• I’m scrambling to get breakfast served before the impending toddler meltdown.
• Oh, and I haven’t made enough money this month, and my parents are coming over for dinner tonight, and the holidays are coming.

Thank goodness I don’t have a morning commute to deal with or I seriously think I’d lose it!

Modern life is incredibly stressful. All of our wonderful technological gadgetry is supposed to make life easier, but instead I am caught in some strange loop of checking my messages, texts, twitter feed, Facebook, email, and back again in a seemingly endless string of new responsibilities and ways I can now fail to respond to the people who rely on me.

It’s all a little bit much, don’t you think?

So I started to do some research on ways to reduce my stress, and I bet you can guess what I ran into: a whole bunch of advice about exercising more.

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Sure, add that to the list of things I “should” be doing. ;-)

OK, to be honest, I have been exercising more regularly, and it does help. But I knew that exercise wasn’t the end of the story. And for some people, getting to the gym just isn’t happening.

So what? They’re supposed to run right out and get a prescription for anti-anxiety medication?

I don’t think so.

Here’s my first recommendation to reduce your stress:

1) Take a hot bath

The other day I was listening to the John Tesh Radio Show and I heard about a study that showed that 15 minutes a day of submersion in hot water reduced anxiety more than anti-anxiety medication.

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What?!

Did I hear that correctly?

Yes, it’s true, a hot bath or some time in a hot tub can greatly reduce anxiety with virtually no negative side effects.

I have a hot tub and my husband and I do use it regularly, but after hearing about this study, I’ve been more likely to use it when I’m feeling stressed. It makes sense, I mean, when I was giving birth, relaxing in warm water was one of the things that helped me the most.

I will say that the money my husband and I spent on a used hot tub is hands down the most celebrated investment we have ever made. We sometimes regret having a big wedding because it was so expensive, but we have never regretted buying a hot tub. A hot bath every single day is probably not going to work for everyone, especially if you’re trying to keep your utility bill lower than your mortgage. So what else can we do to reduce our stress?

2) Go outside

Vitamin D kept showing up in my research. And since I do notice a seasonal increase in stress, I had to consider the possibility that I’m just not getting enough of it to keep my physiological stress levels in check. So, should I supplement with vitamin D? Well, sure, it won’t hurt; the recommended maximum daily allowance for an adult is 1000 UI. However, the best way to get a big dose of vitamin D is to spend about 10 minutes exposing your skin to natural daylight, if you’re light skinned, and about 20 minutes per day if you’re darker skinned.

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Yes, the vitamin D we get from spending 10 minutes a day outside in the sunshine can provide some relief to our system if it’s deficient in the nutrient. However, there’s something else that this daily practice provides.

When I was in college I took a class called “Environmental Psychology” and we looked at bunches of studies that showed that spending time outdoors and in nature greatly reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, and does a whole lot of other good stuff for our bodies.

It makes sense to me, since we evolved spending MOST of our time outdoors and now we spend almost all of our time indoors. Since practicing this one, I’ve noticed how calming it is to observe birds foraging or to hear them singing. I’ve listened to the wind rustle through the trees and watched the clouds slowly amble by.

This one works for me even when I just step out onto my porch or go hang out in the back yard. If you’re in a city, you might have to find a community garden or park to serve your needs. But just being outdoors for 15 minutes a day will definitely reduce your stress and improve your life. Oh, and if you walk while outdoors, then you’re exercising too!

There’s one more thing that greatly reduces stress and has nothing to do with going to the gym.

3) Laugh

Daily laughter can reduce your stress considerably, and it’s also a lot of fun! Whether you like to watch stand up comedians, late night talk shows, or make up silly songs with your kids, whatever makes you laugh fits the bill. And if you’re not laughing daily, it’s time to take the reins and make it happen.

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Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Laughter is easy when you’re feeling good, but it’s also easy to do when you’re down. You simply have to decide to do it. OK, now you’re thinking I’ve lost it, but have you ever heard of laughter yoga? It’s the practice of laughing because you’ve decided to, not because there’s anything particularly funny happening. But here’s the thing, once you start, it’s easy to continue. Laughter really is contagious!

You can start by simply acting it out, “Ha, ha, ha” and pretty soon you’re laughing at how silly you sound. This practice is best done among others because laughter really does spread from person to person. So, if you’re not yet laughing for 15 minutes a day, you no longer have any excuses. Try this one out and you’ll soon be hooked.

So, that’s it! These are my three favorite ways to reduce stress in 15 minutes a day without exercising. I hope you liked them and I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let’s talk about what works and doesn’t work for you. Have a lovely day, Shelly

Featured photo credit:  mid adult italian woman banging her head against a wall 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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