Sometimes a little stress can be helpful. However, many of us frequently experience stress overload. Remember, stress puts your health at risk. Stress is linked to the leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Stress causes headaches, muscle tension, depression, and anxiety. Stress also takes a big bite out of your productivity, creativity, and motivation. So, what can you do?
You can't just walk away from your job or responsibilities. But you can put into action a personal stress reduction plan, and I am here to help you do just that.
Here's my short list of 9 easy ways to reduce stress.
Stick to a healthy diet. Eat more leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. Eliminate or cut back on refined carbohydrates, like sugary cereals, chips, and desserts. Read labels on cans and packages. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. If you have emotional eating issues, get these under control to feel the rewards of a balanced diet.
Exercise 20 minutes daily to brighten your mood and relieve your stress. For optimal health benefits, try to raise your heart rate while you exercise. Do something you enjoy like brisk walking, playing tennis, or swimming. An indoor treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike can be handy in cold weather.
Yes, sleep. The sweet spot is 7.5 to 8 hours per night. Sleep lets your body rest and repair, and helps reboot you for the next day. Not enough sleep can make you irritable and slow your thinking.
Take Care of Your Emotions
Be present in the moment. Check your body several times a day. How do you feel? Is your neck tight? Are your shoulders tense?
If you feel tense, take a break or a short walk. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly to help release the tension. Be concious of your feelings and work with someone to better understand how they are affecting your life in the big picture.
Write a Daily To-Do List
Trying to remember everything you need to do each day increases your stress. Writing a list simplifies the process and helps you prioritize your tasks. This avoids stress.
Laughter releases feel-good hormones that help you release stress. Watch a comedy, read funny books or get together and share funny stories with a friend or family member.
Pay Attention to Your Self-Talk.
What are you saying to yourself? Is your self-talk negative?
If it is, you will feel worse if you listen. It will also ramp up your stress. Practice stopping the negative self-talk when it begins and finding positive things to say to yourself instead.
Keep a Journal.
Before you go to bed at night, write down anything that comes to your mind.
How was your day? Debriefing at night helps you get a better night's sleep. It's therapeutic to clear your mind of stressors and put in on paper. Once out of your head, negative thoughts no longer have a place to expand.
Write Five Things You are Grateful For
This could be a daily gratitude journal or a once a week practice. Writing gratitude statements has been closely linked to increased happiness and contentment. Statements can range from someone holding the door open for you to someone taking the time to listen to your story.
Implement these 9 strategies for reducing your stress, and be sure to be honest with yourself. If you are consistently overwhelmed by life, perhaps you need to work with someone to target the root of your troubles. It is always good to get in touch with your feelings and thoughts, which itself can reduce a lot of stress.
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