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Tips for Reducing Stress

Updated on June 5, 2010

You might have many different reasons for wanting to reduce the stress that's in your life. Perhaps you feel like it's putting a crimp in the relationships that you have with others. (After all, who really wants to be around a stress ball all of the time?!) Or perhaps you are concerned about the health risks that stress creates for you. (Stress is a leading factor in heart disease and ulcers and also contributes to other illnesses.) Or perhaps you just want to feel better on a daily basis because life's too short to be so miserable.

Whatever your reason, you want to limit the amount of stress in your life but you aren't sure where to being. Here are a whole slew of tips for reducing the stress which you can pick and choose from to create the kind of stress-free life that you want to have:

  • Take naps. Many people think that they are too busy to take a nap during the day. The reality is that if you get enough rest during the times that you need it most, you'll be a more productive person. Imagine heading home for an hour-long lunch break in which you put on your pajamas and get some good sleep. Can't you already feel the stress melting away? (If you're having trouble napping, check out this article on how to get a good nap.)
  • Eat healthy. You don't want to hear it, but it's true. If you're eating processed foods and takeout on the run, you're increasing your stress levels. A balanced diet of fresh foods is better for your body. And a less-stressed body is the goal. In addition to eating healthy foods, you should make sure that you have healthy eating habits. Eat small portions but make them nice so they're filling. A meal laid out with a pleasant appearance and a garnish makes for a great way to relax doing something that you need to do every day anyway (eating).
  • Ask yourself, "does this really matter?" I remember reading a tip once that went something along the lines of "ask yourself if this will matter in a year; if it won't, then you shouldn't get stressed about it". A year may be too long of a time frame. But think about all of the times each day that you get stressed. Ask yourself if you'll remember it in a week. When you're at the store and someone cuts in line and you get angry, ask yourself, "will I care about this a week from now?" The effects of stress on the body last for a long time. If the cause of the stress is going to be forgotten in a week anyway, don't even let it get to you.
  • Breathe. Literally. Stopping to take a deep breath will help you remember that the little annoyances don't matter that much and you'll stress out less. More importantly, breathing is good for both the body and mind. It helps you focus. It helps your body work more efficiently. It releases the stress.
  • Get rid of your debt. Money is a huge cause of stress for most people. Reduce your debt and you'll automatically reduce your stress levels. Add to your savings and you'll increase your security which means you'll decrease your stress. You can do without the gadgets and the nights out at restaurants if you can't afford them. But you can't do without your health. Sacrifice the things for the security of knowing that you're financially free.
  • Surround yourself with people who love you. Other people can be a significant cause of stress in our lives. You can't get rid of your nagging mother but you can limit the amount of time that you spend with her. Replace that time with time spent doing activities with people who are positive in your life. The more drama-free love you feel, the more stress you'll eliminate.
  • Stop being angry. Much of our stress is caused by residual feelings of anger. Sometimes it's anger at a lover who isn't paying us enough attention. Sometimes it's anger at ourselves for not doing a job that we love. Sometimes it's anger left over from abuses that happened in our childhood. To move on, we need to release the anger. Deal with it. Work with a therapist, write it out in a journal, do what you need to do. But commit to being less angry and more forgiving. The stress will dissipate as you do.
  • Ask questions. Curiosity killed the stress. Or at least quells it. When you're inquisitive about the world around you, you don't worry so much. Work on projects that teach you about something you've always been interested in. Ask the people in your life what they think about things and really listen for the answer. Wonder. If you're busy asking questions and finding answers, you'll be too busy for worrying about the things that could stress you out.
  • Exercise. It's really hard to be stressed out when you're running down the coast. Get your blood pumping. Use exercise time to think about things that are bothering you and work out your aggression on the equipment. Make yourself too physically tired to be too stressed out.
  • Play. Adults don't take nearly enough time out of their lives to play. Make time to swing on swing sets and build sand castles. Learn a new video game. Sing to a CD that you'd never let anyone know you own. Tease a lover. Play with the experiments at a hands-on science museum. Buy a guitar and make bad music. Bake cookies using cookie cutters. Play with the kids in your life. Play with the adults that you know. If you have to, schedule play into your day planner and force yourself to do it. Before you know it, you'll be playing even when you hadn't planned on it and you'll notice that you aren't so stressed out anymore.

The major sources of stress in our life come from being too busy and too broke. The key to reducing stress is to reduce the impact that these things have on our lives. And the real key to doing that is in changing out attitudes!


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