Stress has become a major problem for most of us, and it is affecting our productivity at home and at work. Most people don’t realize that stress can be reduced by using simple techniques that anyone can incorporate into their everyday routine.
Stress is a powerful force in our lives. It can lead to health problems, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. But the good news is that you have many choices for dealing with it. You can put them into action right now. Stress is a choice. So don’t choose it. You have more control over it than you think.
Simple lifestyle changes, such as getting out into nature more often or finding time for exercise, can help you get your stress levels under control.
Cultivating good daily habits that include exercise, meditation, and other activities that you love can help create positive habits that will serve you for a lifetime.
There are hundreds of ways to reduce stress in your life. Here’s a sample of 15 things that you can try today.
Meditate. Meditation is the ancient skill of relaxation that actually rewires your brain. It will help you focus and pay attention. It will reduce reactivity and enable you to be more decisive. And it helps you to cultivate a sense of calm and equanimity.
Get out into the fresh air. The benefits of the great outdoors are well documented. Parks and natural areas have been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, boost moods, and even reduce the risk of disease. Whether you head out for a walk, run, bike ride, or spend time gardening and weeding, you’ll feel the effects.
Practice rhythmic breathing. Take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through the nose for a count of six, and exhale for the same count. Repeat several times a day or when you start to feel stress rising. Your mind follows your breath. When you calm your breath, you calm your mind.
Listen to calming music. Select soft music, preferably without lyrics or heavy percussion. Tame the mind and body with this sound, allowing yourself to turn off your thoughts and really relax.
Have a cup of tea. Taking time during your day to make a cup of tea is exactly what you need to reduce stress. Enjoy making the tea and then enjoying its beautiful aroma and rich taste. Make a daily ritual to enjoy tea time so you have a stress-free time to look forward to.
Take a hot bath. A bath with candles and soothing music can certainly help you unwind, but warm water also stimulates blood flow to the skin. This improves circulation and brings more nourishment to your cells—and it relaxes muscles and eases tension in your body.
Get a massage. Massage is one of the oldest health treatments known to man, dating back some 6,000 years. It’s been shown to ease pain and improve sleep. Scalp, shoulder, or foot massages are great for reducing stress and a perfect way to end a stressful day or week.
Read a book. If you find yourself stressed out at night, try reading to relax. Keep a book (or two) on your bedroom nightstand so you can practice this habit before bedtime (or whenever you feel stress coming on). Fiction is better for relaxation as it takes you away from day-to-day reality and makes you use your imagination.
Visit a new cafe or restaurant. A new environment can make you forget about your stressors as you have something novel to focus on. Eating is a wonderful way to reduce stress as you nourish your body, enjoy your favorite meal, and celebrate you not having to cook it!
Exercise is a wonderful way to reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your brain, which help promote relaxation and improve your mood. And, it keeps you in shape which makes you feel better about yourself!
Sleep. Insufficient sleep is more common among stressed-out people. Getting to bed on time, then making sure that you get enough rest each night is vital for maintaining good health. So turn off the gadgets several hours in advance and prepare yourself for peaceful slumber.
Call a friend. Talk about your troubles with your friends. Part of friendship is being there through the thick and the thin. Schedule some time to catch up regularly. Not only does it give you something to look forward to, human connection is vital for physical and mental health.
Clean something. Another useful way to reduce stress is to clean. Cleaning your home or office creates order from disorder, which can help you feel better. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment when the job is done.
Volunteer your time to a good cause. Helping others can take your mind off your own problems. It also helps you develop a sense of purpose and belonging, which is vital to keeping stress in check.
Adopt a pet. Studies have shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and anxiety, improve socialization skills, boost energy, and of course increase your overall happiness. Plus, you serve as a wonderful support for each other.
Stress is a choice. And so are the activities you choose in order to reduce its impact on your life. The bottom line is that there are many simple things you can do to reduce stress right now. The next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try these simple activities which have been shown to relieve the symptoms of chronic stress and anxiety and see your life change for the better.
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