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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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