Issues and deadlines are coming up at work, a hectic family schedule has you running around, money is tight, the yard needs work and you haven’t slept a full night in the last week.
You are not alone. Over 50% of North Americans feel stressed on a daily basis. Feelings of being overwhelmed and that you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done are common. If only your day had 36 hours instead of 24, maybe then you would be able to get it all done and just have some time for yourself. What can you realistically do about it?
We have compiled a list of the best ways to lower and reduce stress and be happier. These ways to reduce stress work only if you put them into action.
The most common excuse we hear about exercise is, “I just don’t have time!” Exercising can do the body and mind good, but how do you fit exercising into that busy lifestyle? The good news is that any form of exercise, from yoga to kettlebells and even walking around the block, will significantly benefit you and help to drastically reduce stress. The best news is that you do not have to exercise for a long period of time to achieve the benefits of stress reduction.
Exercise can help to improve your mood by pumping up your endorphins and it provides a healthy outlet to blow off some steam. And in some time warped sort of way, exercising is one of the very best things we have found to increase productivity and maximize the use of your time!
We have put together a great 30 minute stress busting workout that you can do right now (with no equipment) to immediately lower your stress! Download this 30 minute stress busting workout here.
Eat Great Food
Eating is one of the most common ways people deal with stress. However, many people tend to indulge in foods that add inches to their waistline rather than reduce their stress. Well, it is time to ditch the candy bars, diet sodas, and bags of chips and indulge in these stress busting foods:
Foods that are high in Vitamin C (ideally containing more than an orange) and B Vitamins and are great food to eat for stress reduction. One of the B Vitamins that broccoli contains is folic acid, which helps convert food into fuel and will increase your metabolism. The best way to load up on these vitamins is to eat broccoli raw or steam broccoli instead of boiling, which will lock in the many beneficial nutrients.
Asparagus is also high in folic acid so will provide similar benefits to broccoli, as well as have detoxifying effects on your body. Like broccoli, steam instead of boiling to lock in the nutrients. One of our favourite ways to eat asparagus is to add a little olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper and cook over low heat on the grill. Make sure you use lower heat so you don’t convert olive oil into a bad fat!
High in Vitamin B6, avocados are also important for metabolic activity and lowering stress. Watch this quick video on how to choose the perfect avocado here.
These tiny little berries are packed full of goodness. Blueberries are high in Vitamin C and Antioxidants, which are both important in dealing with stress by fixing and repairing cells in your body.
These nuts in particular are full of vitamins that help crank up your immune system in times of stress. However, almonds are higher in fat so don’t over do it, but they will help satisfy that desire for a crunchy snack.
A by-product of stress is high blood pressure, which can damage blood vessels in our system. Oranges and their juice work to naturally lower blood pressure, plus they are high in Vitamin C, so they also help to fix and repair the cells in your body that are damaged as a result of stress.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been acclaimed for their many benefits, one of which is to protect the heart during periods of stress.
We couldn’t help but put this one in as chocolate is a common guilty pleasure. Taken in moderation (moderation is the key word here), dark chocolate can help to lower stress hormones in your body and increase levels of serotonin, the happy hormone.
Who doesn’t like to he healthy and happy?
The simplicity of journaling to reduce stress is amazing. It might be feelings of being overwhelmed, anger, depression or your hectic schedule that are getting you stressed out. By following these simple journaling tips, you an start to lower your stress right now.
Break your journaling into 3 parts:
Jot your thoughts, emotions and your stresses down on paper. Don’t think about this section, just start writing and get it all down. As you first start to journal, this section can get quite long, but give yourself permission to get all that stress out onto paper. As you are consistent in your journaling, you will find this section will get shorter and shorter as the amount of emotions and stress that you are holding back start to decrease.
2. Action Plan
Write down in list format everything that you need to do the next day and prioritize each of the items from most important to least important. Get more done in a less stressful way by starting at the top of your list and not moving on to the next item until the first is complete.
Many people get stressed because we have too much on the go, start lots of projects and finish very few of them, but you can use journaling to help get things done. As you start to use this stress busting technique, it is common to plan too much for the next day. There will be a learning curve involved, but stick with it and refine your planning as you go along. Soon you will have your to-do lists down to a realistic length, and you will end your day feeling accomplished rather than defeated.
3. Lessons Learned for the Day
In the last section of journaling you should write down any valuable life lessons you have learned for the day, and anything of importance that you can carry forward to help lower and prevent stress. Reflect on what you are thankful for and important moments that happened to you so you can look back and reflect on the happy memories rather than the stressful ones.
Read a Book
If you really need to escape from stress, reading is a good place to start. When you read, you have to concentrate (at least you should concentrate) and this form of distraction through reading helps to lower your stress over 65%!
The only person that is responsible for your emotions is you. No matter what you have told yourself in the past, or what your circumstance are, happiness is a choice. It can all start by you choosing how you react to the circumstances around you. Choose to smile and be happy and tackle your day with a positive attitude. You may be surprised by the improvements that you see when you keep your attitude in check.
When our stress levels get high, our body adopts a defensive posture in which the shoulders roll forward. This forward motion of the shoulders decreases the air capacity of your lungs, resulting in shallower and quicker breathing.
This is a recipe for more stress as the oxygen levels in your body become depleted and your tissues and organs become starved for oxygen, leading to oxidative stress which is associated with a number of chronic health conditions.
Tip your head back, pull your shoulders back, and take 5 deep breaths in. As oxygen filters back into your system, you will notice your stress levels will gradually come down.
Interestingly enough, research shows that having sex can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. Having safe consensual sex was not just correlated with lowering your stress, but also with helping you prevent and respond to new stressors that show up.
Other benefits of sex shown through research include increased immune system function and burning more calories, similar to a form of exercise.
Not getting enough sleep creates the perfect storm for massively increasing stress levels. It can be a challenge to fall asleep when your stress levels are high and you are worried about everything going on.
Use this stress busting techniques to sleep better:
- As mentioned above, try journalling before bed.
- Cut out all technology for 60 minutes before going to bed.
- Do not eat for 60 minutes before going to bed.
Research is very clear that those who view life from a cup half full perspective experience a number of benefits with stress reduction. Some side effects of being grateful are feeling happier, having stronger relationships, better health and lower levels of depression.
Think about it, what are you grateful for? Air to breath, food to eat, clothes to wear…. we could go on and on.
Between work, family and all of your day to day commitments, it is often difficult to put yourself first. Block time in your schedule and don’t be afraid to say no. Your health and wellbeing needs to be a priority, and your friends and family will understand that sometimes you just have to say, “No.”
Watch a funny video
We can’t get enough of this one! If you know of any other great funny videos that you use to reduce your stress, feel free to share the link in the comments section below! But, please keep it clean.