Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to completely eliminate stress from our lives?
Unfortunately, we seem to be moving towards more, not less. Stress affects us all at different levels and stages of life.
And the best we can do is learn how to deal with it.
But one thing I’ve learned is that it’s much better to do a mix of small things to reduce stress, rather than letting it build up and then trying to relax.
That’s why in this article I’m sharing 10 simple habits that, if done consistently, will reduce your stress levels in no time. Let’s dive in:
1) Regular exercise
If you’re like me, you want quick solutions. Maybe you’re still reeling from the stress of Christmas and that’s why you’re reading this article.
Well, I’ve got you covered. We’ll start with practice, but honestly, all of the points below can be put into action right away.
But what I like about this point is that it provides instant relief.
And no, I’m not going to advise you to go to the gym with everyone else this month.
All I want you to do is move your body the way you feel fit.
Dance in your living room to your favorite songs, take a long walk or lie down on a mat and stretch your muscles during one of the many YouTube videos available.
You see, exercise in any form increases Iendorphins – these are the feel-good chemicals we miss when we feel stressed.
Give it a try – perform an exercise of your choice for 20-30 minutes and record how you feel before and after.
2) Meditation and deep breathing
I’ll be honest, I haven’t found my flow with meditation yet, but I know many people find it very relaxing and grounding.
So instead of trying to sound like an expert on the subject, I’m going to leave to an excellent guide to get you started with meditation (hopefully you have more patience and perseverance than me!).
But deep breathing is something I’ve been doing a lot.
And I have to say that this really helps in moments of extreme stress or when I find it difficult to calm my mind.
Essentially, you need to breathe deeply into your belly. Place your hand on your stomach and feel the air expand and fall. Breathe in and out slowly, and repeat until you feel your body relax.
Like the University of Toledo comments:
“Deep breathing and relaxation activate the other part of your nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, which sends a signal to your brain to tell the anxious part that you are safe and don’t need to use fight, flight or freeze. answer.”
3) Eat well and drink enough water
Forget eating right to lose the holiday weight, healthy eating is essential if you want to feel less stressed.
I know it’s winter, it’s cold and dark, and those shakes and chips look oh so tempting.
But they don’t do anything to make you feel good inside.
Instead, you should eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
And most importantly, avoid excessive caffeine and sugar.
Personally, I believe that everything in moderation is the way to go.
So if you currently drink five cups of coffee a day, consider cutting that down to two. And replace the other one you would normally take with a healthy smoothie or some refreshing water.
Ultimately, the better you eat, the more your immune system is supported. And that extra energy will do wonders reducing stress levels.
4) Making time for family and friends
This is another simple habit that, if you do it right, will have a huge impact on your stress levels…
But you have to make sure you surround yourself with the right people! Not Debbie Downers or people who drain your energy and make you feel more stressed.
Ace Spiritual help explains:
“Social support seems to influence our hormone balance. Adequate amounts of social support are associated with an increase in levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to lower anxiety levels and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm responses.
So make it a new habit.
Even when we’re busy, we can all find ways to spend some time with a good friend or family member every day. Even if it’s just a short video call or sending someone a message.
5) Also make time for yourself
And while you prioritize your loved ones, don’t forget about yourself.
Taking a little time each day to do something you want to do is also an incredible way to reduce stress.
For example, last week I felt my stress level increasing. A lack of routine, family drama, and work looming on Mondays was not a fun combination.
So I took an evening to myself. I canceled all plans, watched a movie, ate my favorite meal, and then sat in the shower for too long, singing along to Tracey Chapman songs.
And believe me when I say that I felt the notes lighter afterwards.
It also reminded me that a little “me time” every day, even if it’s just a little thing each day, is worth it in reducing stress levels.
6) Digital detox
Ah, now time for one of my favorites – turn off technology!
Most of us don’t realize how overwhelming and overloaded social media, the news and our gadgets in general are.
But think about it this way:
You are always available. You can constantly view the lives of millions of people online, most of whom you don’t even know. And the news? The fact that it is now available 24/7 is just another stressor in our lives.
So turn everything off.
Don’t let the algorithms control you; YOU decide when enough is enough.
I tend to block out a few hours a day when I don’t touch my phone. This allows me to move on to other tasks, and it’s no surprise that I’m less stressed because I’m accomplishing more every day!
7) Spending time in nature
Now let’s merge a few points into one point. Consider asking a friend to take you for a walk in the local park, forest or beach.
That way you get the socialization, you get the exercise, and you allow yourself to be one with nature.
Which, if you didn’t know, is one of the best treatments for stress. Actually just 20 minutes one day can work wonders.
Another way to work in nature is to change your routine. If you normally eat lunch in the staff room at work or at your desk, why not sit outside?
Or, if possible, walk to certain destinations instead of taking the bus or car. One thing you’ll discover about fresh air and nature is that they often help you get the following:
8) Get enough sleep every night
Sleep isn’t something you can neglect for weeks and then hope that a weekend catch-up will be enough.
And it’s important to note that lack of sleep can cause this significantly increases your stress level.
As a light sleeper, I generally struggle to sleep well. But by sticking to a rough routine and playing things like white noise on my phone, I’ve managed to improve.
Other things like keeping the room cool (opening a window), sleeping in the dark (turning off the TV, etc.), and avoiding caffeine before bed also help.
Ultimately, we all feel much better when we’ve had a good night’s sleep, so this isn’t something to take lightly!
9) Better time management
Getting into the habit of planning your time can significantly reduce your stress levels.
Once you have finished reading this article, sit down and map out what needs to be done tomorrow.
Get your most important tasks out of the way and if you have to, plan when you will spend time relaxing, exercising or catching up with friends.
The truth is, if you make this a regular habit, you will notice how much more productive you become.
Not only that, but you can also save yourself the stress of things piling up on you, and by having your plan sorted out, you’ll already have more control over your days.
10) Fun hobbies
Now to end on a lighter note (since planning isn’t the most compelling thing in the world!) – let’s talk about hobbies.
Especially the fun kind!
If you don’t have any hobbies, it’s time to find some. Paint by numbers, gardening, archery, upcycling furniture, skateboarding, whatever you enjoy, make sure you make it a habit.
Even if it’s just for half an hour in the evening, by doing something you enjoy, you’ll notice your stress levels decrease in no time.
And you can even consider this part of your “me time,” as we discussed earlier.
So I hope this article has given you some food for thought. Stress will always haunt us, but if we follow the tips above, we will be on the right track to dealing with it, rather than suffering from it.
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