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10 Ways To Reduce Stress And Live A Worry Free Life

10 Ways To Reduce Stress And Live A Worry Free Life

Today, we live in such a fast paced society and there is so much going on around us that is hard not to be stressed out. We have families, friends, taxes, rent and so many other factors we have little control over. When we can, we need to minimize our stress and aid the universe in making life go as smoothly as possible. Here are 5 ways which helped me reduce stress in my life.

stress

    1. Make checklists.

    This will help you take things one step at a time and not overwhelm yourself mentally. When we make mental checklists, we tend to look at the overall picture of all the things we have to do instead of taking it one task at a time. Also, when we cross something off our checklist, we feel a sense of accomplishment and feel even more motivated to tackle the next task. By doing this, we begin to build a positive momentum.

    2. Don’t take the opinions of others to heart.

    The key to living a happy and fulfilling life is being able to be authentically you and do the things that bring you joy. Often, the opinions and judgments of others get in the way of our authenticity. We cannot allow this to happen, as Don Miguel Ruiz points out in The Four Agreements:

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    “Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful. Don’t take anything personally.”

    Understanding that whatever people say, think and do are projections of their own reality will take the weight off of the opinions of others. The need to please will only lead into a very stressful life—we will never please everyone.

    3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    “The willingness and the courage to face a problem often means identifying and talking about the problem, looking at available resources, identifying solutions and alternatives, and developing a plan of action that works best.”

    Ellwood City Ledger 

    Being able to ask for help is a sign of maturity, not weakness. It is an essential part in developing a plan of action. Many times when we are facing a problem, we are not always seeing things clearly. Asking for help can often show us different way of approaching a problem that we may have never thought of ourselves—there is always something to be learned. Not to mention, having a confidant and someone to help you through a tough situation makes the process a lot less stressful.

    4. Meditate.

    Zen Cat

      Meditation is something that has personally helped me on my journey and has significantly reduced my anxiety and stress levels. Psychology Today posted an article on their website about a study that was done proving that “mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions.” The ability to regulate our emotions and maintain a mindful outlook will help us deal with our stress in a much healthier way. Meditation has also opened my mind up to the idea of other forms of relaxation and alternative healing such as hypnosis, which has changed my life! I love challenges like Oprah and Deepak’s 21 day series. Their guided meditations are not too long, easy to listen to and help to get you into the routine of meditating. Check the link out here.

      5. Be patient and embrace the process.

      Every time you feel impatient and restless, try to remind yourself that life is a marathon, not a sprint. We all need to embrace present-moment living more instead of always wanting to be at another place than where we currently are.  The present is the only time that has purpose and meaning right now. When we become impatient and rush through life, we are probably missing out on important lessons and not reaping the full benefits of life.

      6. Don’t compare yourself to others.

      This can be difficult, but we need to keep in mind that we are completely different people than those we are comparing ourselves to—we have completely different perspectives. Comparing ourselves to others will only result in decreased self esteem and increased anxiety.

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      7. Get a therapist!

      therapy

        I am a huge advocate of finding someone who you can speak to in a private, safe place without judgment. It is a completely outside perspective that may result in clarity and insight.

        8. Do something physical and GET MOVING!

        I am not the hugest fan of working out but I realized that there are so many physical activities I could do that are fun such as bike riding, taking a walk with a friend, roller blading, etc. Endorphins are natural pain and stress relievers.  Give it a shot. ;)

        peewee

          9. Practice breathing techniques.

          Rhythmic breathing has been proven to be an effective method for reducing stress and anxiety. There are tons of great books on Kundalini Yoga that will teach you how to get started or look up a studio that teaches Kundalini.  It is totally worth it!

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          10. Practice self care.

          Go get a message.  Watch your favorite movie. Get your nails done. Take a bubble bath.  The options are unlimited, but the idea is to pamper yourself and relax. I am committing to getting a message once a month to force myself and relax and take care of myself.  I think this is a necessary but often pushed to the bottom of the list due to timing, money etc.

          Featured photo credit: Daniela Munoz-Santos via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on July 17, 2019

          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

          What happens in our heads when we set goals?

          Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

          Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

          According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

          Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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          Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

          Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

          The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

          Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

          So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

          Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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          One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

          Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

          Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

          The Neurology of Ownership

          Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

          In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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          But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

          This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

          Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

          The Upshot for Goal-Setters

          So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

          On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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          It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

          On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

          But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

          More About Goals Setting

          Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

          Reference

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