Stress hurts us
When human beings are just constantly stressed out, all of our systems feel the effects. We sleep less and eat more. We exercise too intensely. We worry. Our blood pressure goes up, inflammation goes up, and we don’t feel as good. When we don’t feel as good we don’t work as well and our attention is compromised. Which stresses us out. And so on….
Stress really does hurt us on multiple levels.
Luckily, there are things we can do to help us ease some of our stress.
I have chosen some tips that are simple to implement in your daily and weekly schedules. They are easy to do, take very little time (as little as one minute), and will have such a positive effect on your well-being that you should have no problem sticking with them.
If you did all of these, it would take less than an hour a day (about 48 minutes, to be exact).
Start with just one. I recommend the Gratitude practice or the Quick Attitude Adjustment.
Tips for Stress-free Living
- Practice Gratitude
I used to have a hard time being grateful, and instead spent a lot of time feeling angry, jealous, and worrying about what other people had that I did not. If you find yourself caught up in a game of “keeping up with the Jones’s”, waking up stressed and being angry about it, I have a more productive and enjoyable way to start your day. Every morning, before you get out of bed, spend a few minutes lying down in the dark, taking some deep breaths and thinking about things you are grateful for. A day off coming up? Your best friend? Or even more basic, that you have a bed (many people do not) and that you woke up to a new day with new possibilities? And then set your intention to have a good day and deal easily with whatever the universe throws at you.
- Quick Attitude Adjustment
Every time we change place and situation in our day, it is stressful, especially if we cannot predict what will happen there. You see, our animal brains find safety in predictability. We like what we like. Now, I change place and situation quite often. From my apartment to the hallway and elevator, to the lobby, and outside. Then to work (I generally walk), outside, subway station, train, station, train, station, outside, 2nd work, etc. Each situation has its own cast of characters and while many of them are comfortably predictable, many are not. So here is what I do. I prepare myself for the changes. I stop for a few seconds and take some deep breaths, setting my intention to have my time and work in the new space pass easily and pleasantly.
- Do Exercise That You Enjoy
Most people hate dealing with fitness. Exercise just seems annoyingly time consuming and just not so much fun. When we force ourselves to do something we really don’t want to do, we cause more stress. That’s right, forcing yourself to exercise when you really dislike what you are doing is so stressful that just the increase in cortisol from the stress can reduce the effectiveness! So find things you like that get you moving. My mother used to walk in the mall with her friends. They would chat, gossip, and get some quality friend time in while exercising. It worked! Some people love to swim in the ocean or municipal pool, some love to play basketball or handball at the park, some like to have sex (yes, that counts as exercise!). Some folks love pilates, some yoga, and some lifting weights. Whatever you like, do that!
- Spend Time Being Mindful
I think we all know that meditation is helpful for reducing stress, but for many people the thought of learning to meditate and taking the time to practice causes much stress. The easiest way to incorporate some mindfulness into your day is by spending 15 minutes doing some activity that forces you to ignore your devices, relax, and focus. Hubby and I love to color. We have adult coloring books full of mandalas and other complex drawings, markers, and colored pencils. I also knit and crochet. Reading can do it, but not if you read with an app and tend to click over to your email or Facebook every few minutes. My daily Reiki self practice also counts for this. Of course, if you love to meditate, do that!
Although the tips mentioned above are simple, they are indeed quite effective. Some times in life you have to take two steps back and really simplify things in order to be able to act upon them and improve your life. I hope you’re able to act upon the advice given above and really make some changes in your lifestyle to help you reduce your stress!
Please share your thoughts in the comments and remember, I’m on Buddha’s Herbs Expert Panel so if you’d like to ask any health and fitness related question from me, just head over here and go ahead and ask!