How To: 8 Ways to Reduce Stress
People are and have always had a great deal of stress, finding ways to reduce stress isn’t always easy, especially if we are in the throes of a stressful situation. Yesterday I was marveling at how lovely I felt when I walked into my newly cleaned home. The kids toys and clothes were no longer strewn about and the kitchen was tidy and the dishwasher running, it was a veritable oasis of calm, stress-free, peacefulness. To be honest, I have to thank my friend that I pay to come and clean for me. (don’t laugh) We all have priorities, and there are things that I realize that I want to do, but I never seem to get to do, that I can pay to have done. Cleaning is one of them. Paying my friend works out well for her (she gets paid) and me (I get a clean house from someone I trust).
I was thinking about how stressed out I felt the other day when I walked into my home, and how different that feeling of walking through the house is today and I thought it would be a good idea to go through the top 8 ways to reduce stress, easily and naturally.
ONE: GET ORGANIZED
Everyone will agree that having a disorganized home is a subtle drain of your energy. It creates the stressful situations such as, not being able to find something when you need to, or simply having distracting clutter. According to About.com Stress Management being disorganized can also hit you financially and hurt your ability to stay on a schedule.
Turning your topsy turvy disorganized home or office into an organized oasis of calmness and productivity is easier said than done. The key is to have a place for everything. You don’t need to color coordinate your shoes or alphabetize your books, but you need to know where to put something when you want to put something away.
In addition to a place for everything and everything in it’s place, work towards the following steps to keep your organized space organized:
- Clear Out Some Clutter – Immediately, put items in their place or donate or discard, don’t hide items without homes in the attic, garage or spare bedroom. Take care of it immediately.
- Learn How To Say No – Are you a magnet for other peoples stuff? That’s because they are clearing out the clutter, and donating it to you! Learn to say No, and only accept things that you truly need, and donate items that you have accepted that you don’t need.
- Deal With New Paperwork Right Now – This is self-explanatory, while walking in from the mail box, simply divide your mail into 2 categories, Keep & Discard. Then throw out your discard, and file what you need to keep (aka bills) until you are ready to pay.
Meditation is a little vacation for your ever active, ever analyzing brain. Whether you are praying, quietly listening to soothing music, or intentionally meditating, your brain needs time to STOP judging and start just BE’ing.
The Mayo Clinic agrees and further explains that while meditation is not a replacement for traditional medical treatment, some of the benefits are as follows:
Meditation and emotional well-being
When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress. The emotional benefits of meditation include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Meditation and illness
Everyone has heard that exercise relieves stress, but do you know why? Well, exercise produces neurohormones such as norepinephrine that have been determined to improve cognitive function, elevated mood and learning. In fact, stress has been found to actually “damage” parts of your brain and research has shown that exercise can make you smarter!
Who doesn’t love coming into a freshly cleaned and aired out home? Nothing out of place, the slight smell of lemon pledge and no dirty dishes, random clothing, dusty lamps or piles of paperwork. In addition to the immediate relief of a clean environment, there are other ways that having a clean home or workspace relieve stress.
The hidden stress reliever to cleaning or having a clean home is being able to let go. Sometimes the challenge with clutter is that feeling of “might need that” and sometimes there is an even deeper emotional attachment to… “stuff”. Learning to let go of the clutter and enjoy a nice relaxing, clean, decluttered environment is soothing, calm and peaceful.
FIVE: THINK POSITIVE
Believe it or not, science has finally proven what millions of people going back through the ages have known all along; positive thinking can change your life. What’s interesting about this is that there is actually a whole new branch of psychology called Positive Psychology and a Barbara Frederickson is writing about it… a lot. In her article, “Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources”
“Experiments have shown that, relative to neutral and negative states, induced positive emotions widen the scope of people’s visual attention”
In other words, when you are thinking positive and intentionally experiencing joy, contentment, love you will see more possibilities in your life. Positive thinking literally opens your ability to see opportunities. Furthermore these same studies have proven that creating an ongoing and open positive lifestyle will create benefits in your future as you are able to conceive ideas and perceive possibilities that those who concentrate on negative aspects of life may miss.
SIX: STOP PROCRASTINATING
The stress associated with procrastination is usually because there is an approaching deadline. Whether it is a self imposed deadline or a real, on the calendar, unmoveable deadline, the very word deadline is stress inducing. Working out the reasons why you are experiencing the inertia of procrastination can be the toughest nut to crack, and the fact is, putting off something until tomorrow because you don’t want to do it, will not make it easier tomorrow.
The two main reasons for procrastination are perfectionism and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Perfectionism in procrastination usually manifests itself in a number of ways but basically the individual won’t move forward until they are sure that they can do it perfectly. A great motivational speaker Micheal Port says, “Often the very people who are perfectionists, control freaks we might also call them, and who therefore think that the projects they complete will be perfect can’t actually complete projects, much less get started, in many cases. “ Best way to overcome this stumbling block is to have a “good enough” in your head. That means, that while you are working towards perfection, you have an idea of what is going to be “good enough” for you to be able to move onto the next task. In the end you will find that you will be able to accomplish what you need to do.
Overwelmed by a project? This usually will manifest in a complete inability to being able to start. The whole is so big, that the little pieces or parts are completely unseen. The easiest way to overcome this particular stumbling block is to work backwards. If all you can see is the big huge massive impending project and deadline, that’s actually a great start! Simple work backwards. Split the project in half and mark down a halfway deadline, then within that first 1/2way deadline, split those tasks in half and markdown another halfway deadline, until you are at the point where you have your workload down to the daily and weekly deadlines to move forward. AND be flexible. As long as each day you do something, move forward, take at least one step towards your goal!
SEVEN: DON’T OVERBOOK YOURSELF
This is a no brainer, rushing around from appointment to appointment completely negates EVERYTHING. You will be worried about being late, you will be worried about splitting the ketchup on your clothes as you eat on the go, you will be worried about being back in time to pick up the kids, you will be worried about remembering to bring all of the paperwork for each appointment.
Google Calendar is the solution that works for me. In fact, I sing the praises of Google Calendar whenever I can in every session with a client that has an overwhelming schedule and here’s why… IT’S CROSS PLATFORM. I can get notifications in my email or my phone, or my ipad, or they will pop-up on my computer! Set an appointment and you see it in weekly, monthly or daily view, plus you can set up to 5 different reminders, so if you have a very important meeting on a particular day, you can setup that reminder a day ahead.
I know there are a lot of calendar apps, and I LOVE outlook, but I have to tell you I am much deeper in love with Google Calendar as it easily and naturally synchs across all devices and I can setup reminders and all kinds of bells and whistles (literally)
Now that you are using Google Calendar, how is that going to help if you continue to say, “YES” to everyone. CHECK YOUR CALENDAR. Stop saying yes until you have checked your calendar and make sure that you have left yourself appropriate amount of time to get from appointment to appointment.
Laughter is the best medicine. Literally, in an article published in Science Daily “Anticipating A Laugh Reduces Our Stress Hormones, Study Shows”
“In 2006 researchers investigating the interaction between the brain, behavior, and the immune system found that simply anticipating a mirthful laughter experience boosted health-protecting hormones. Now, two years later, the same researchers have found that the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience also reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones. According to Dr. Lee Berk, the study team’s lead researcher of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, “Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay well.”
Did you know that children laugh 400 times a day, and the average adult only laughs 25 times a day. How many times do you laugh? What are you laughing at? Release your inner child and look for opportunities to see the humor in the things that you have previously decided to be annoyed with, and see the change in your environment.
In summary, while none of these eight methods for reducing stress are earth shatteringly new, they all bare mentioning. The one solid truth that is indisputable is, if you continue doing what you are doing, you will continue to get what you are getting. If you want to change something, then you must … make a change. I’m not suggesting that the change needs to be humongous and life changing, I am suggesting: change on thing. Then celebrate your success!
Have an amazing day!