November 9th has an odd designation. It’s “chaos never dies” day. There was a time in my life when I enjoyed chaos. I thrived on it. I prided myself, as a busy mom of 4, on my multi-taking ability.
Then something happened. My multi-tasker broke. During a season of extreme challenge, I fell into a scary depression. It was during that time that my multi-tasker broke. In my depression I found I could barely focus on one thing, much less multiple things.
The hidden blessing of that depression, at the end of it, was an increased ability to focus and a new aversion to chaos. More than anything else I needed, and need, peace in my life.
We live in a stressful world. Even though my kids are now grown, When I get home from work, it’s not time to relax yet. I still have to cook dinner, clean up, feed the cats, do the laundry, review paperwork for the next work day, and more. When I’m finally done doing everything, it’s time to go to bed just so I can wake up and do it all over again the next day. Know the feeling?
Luckily, there are strategies you can use to help you minimize the stress in your life.
Not all stress is bad. We experience stress because it is actually useful. A little bit of stress keeps you motivated to get things done. Stress can also help keep you alert and being alert helps you avoid danger. However, too much stress can have both emotional and physical consequences. So what can you do to help reduce the stress in your life?
Consider these ideas:
How To Reduce Stress Naturally
- Get more sleep. This is easier said than done, but getting more sleep helps a lot when it comes to reducing stress. You know all to well how it feels to handle stress on too little sleep – it’s brutal. Keep your sleep tank topped off and you’ll manage everything better. If you’re only sleeping five hours a night, simply going to bed three hours earlier probably won’t do the trick. Try going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier for a few nights. If that works for you, do it again until you are getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Find some other ways to relax. Take a little “me time” whenever possible. Self care is not selfish. It nourishes your mind, body and spirit and helps you cope better with whatever life throws at you.
- Good daily habits. The body loves good routines and will reward you ten fold. You will have more energy and tenacity.
- Eat right. Don’t work against yourself by ingesting foods that may exasperate stress. Reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Eat more of these things.
- Learn to say no. You don’t have to do it all. And you certainly can’t please everyone. You’re not chocolate. Remember, saying no to someone else means saying yes to yourself.
Reduce Stress Activities
- Go for a walk. Outside. It doesn’t have to be for long. Especially when you are pressed for time. It is amazing how much relief you get from physically removing yourself from a situation and just moving.
- Meditate. Again, you don’t have to go whole hog with this practice. You just have to learn the skill of being able to settle your mind naturally. Focus on a place you love or find a favourite mantra and repeat it over and over again till you feel yourself relax.
- Breathe. Such a natural thing to do and yet when we are stressed, we forget how to do it right. We breathe shallow and fast and that means less oxygen going to the brain. The body then responds with a fright or flight response. Stop, close your eyes and take 5 long, controlled breaths and feel your body unwind. Repeat if necessary.
- Find a hobby. Anything that engages your brain and your body away from your troubles. If you have problems with concentration, try activities that are repetitive and don’t need a lot of constant brain power to do them, like knitting, drawing or doing puzzles.
- Listen to music. There is a reason for the saying, “Music soothes the savage beast”. But it has to be the right music for you. Experiment with different styles till you find the one that induces relaxation for you.
- Enjoy aromatherapy. Scents have the power to lift your mood, make you feel calmer or more energized. Light a candle or use essential oils to relax and reduce anxiety from stress.
- Read. Reading lowers your blood pressure and eases the tension in your muscles. If you have trouble staying focused, consider an audio book. And you don’t have to be a voracious reader to benefit from reading. Reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by 68%!
- Start a gratitude journal. Sometimes you have to force yourself to find the silver linings. And no matter what you are going through or stressing about, there is at least one little thing that you should be grateful for. Writing it down encourages you to look for those nuggets.
- Get more exercise. When you exercise vigorously, your body releases endorphins which are hormones that make you feel good. Exercising also helps you release pent-up energy and physical exertion makes you tired and will help you relax. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just get out and take a walk!
- Get organized. If you start your day by making a plan and sticking to it, you’ll eliminate a lot of stress. Being pulled in a lot of different directions is very stressful, but when you stick to your plan, you can get things done by breaking them down into small, manageable pieces.
- Set realistic goals. If you set goals that are difficult or impossible to achieve, you’ll be creating more stress for yourself. However, when you can achieve your goals and cross things off your to-do list, you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
- Find someone to talk to. Simply getting something off your chest can give you a tremendous amount of relief and it’s much better than keeping things bottled up inside.
- Talk to a professional. If the stress in your life is too much for you to deal with on your own, seeking professional help and talking to a therapist can be a great solution.
- Talking to a therapist can certainly help you get things off your chest, but unlike talking to a friend or family member, a therapist may be able to suggest some relaxation techniques or other effective strategies for coping with stress.
- Laugh! Laughing releases endorphins from your brain and gives you a natural high. Watch a funny movie, listen to a stand up comic or watch funny cat videos on You Tube.
If you’re dealing with stress in your life, you’re not alone. However, you can use these tips to minimize your stress and live a more relaxing and enjoyable life.
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