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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 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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