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25 Simple but Powerful Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

25 Simple but Powerful Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
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Too much stress and anxiety can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, panic, heart palpations, and can even lead to stroke. These are all the result of what doctors term “bad stress.” Try some of these simple but powerful tips to reduce your stress and anxiety.

25. Rock out. Listen to any kind of music that you find soothing.

24. Call someone you know who will listen to your day.

23. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember that the situation is temporary.

22. Pick up a carrot stick and chew away. In other words, eat something but make sure it’s healthy.

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21. Chew some gum.

20. Have a laugh. Sure the situation you are in isn’t laughable, but it really does help to laugh even at yourself. This is when calling a friend may be particularly useful, to help you find the humor in the situation.

19. Get outside and take a walk. While walking just enjoy the scenery. Decide that later is a real good time to do any worrying.

18. Decide to worry about the problem later. All you have to do is make the decision to make time for worrying later.

17. Fix a hot cup of green tea. Use a natural sweetener, like honey, and sip away. Chamomile is also a natural soother; try some before bed or when you need a good dose of loving kindness for yourself.

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16. Find a mediation exercise. There are many available on YouTube. Take a few minutes, close your eyes and be soothed by the sounds of nature or a chant.

15. Stand up and stretch it out. Take your time and really stretch your muscles. Stand up and stretch your leg and hip muscles.

14. Give yourself a massage. Rub out the stress you may be holding in your neck and shoulders.

13. Tense and relax your muscles, from your toes, to your abdomen, to your arms, and finish with the neck muscles.  Remember to do some deep breathing.

12. Follow a strict sleep routine. Experts still say that a full seven to eight hours are needed for a good night’s sleep. When your sleep pattern is disrupted, it can lead to higher stress levels during the day.

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11. Take a breather. Inhale deeply, hold for five seconds and then breathe out slowly.

10. Use a warm wrap to ease stressed muscles, especially in the neck.

9. Find something to be thankful for. Researchers say that concentrating on something good in your life reduces stress and anxiety tremendously.

7. Relax the neck muscles, right at your desk, with some head rolls and shoulder shrugs. Reach up and stretch your arms, if you are stuck in a cubicle all day.

6. Start a private journal–one that is either electronic or hand-written. Either way, take at least 10 minutes a day to write it out. Some psychologists recommend having more than one journal. Get in the habit of jotting down the good things you see and feel.

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5. Make a point of celebrating your accomplishments. Go ahead and give yourself compliments for a job well done. Save up some money to treat yourself to a special treat. You deserve it.

4. Sing along to your favorite tunes. Belt out your feelings while driving or in the shower.

3. Try looking at your situation from someone else’s perspective. For example, go ahead and talk the situation out with yourself, you might just end up with a smile on your face.

2. Instead of focusing on the future or the past, try to stay in the moment. Doctors call this being “mindful.”

1. Get up and do something besides worrying. Worry does the body and its defenses absolutely no good.

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Featured photo credit: Common Kingfisher Relaxing/Vinc3PaulS via commons.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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