We all feel stressed at times. Whether it’s worries about work, family, relationships or friends, stress has become a part of everyday living.
What many people don’t realize is that we don’t have to just live with ‘being stressed’. There are ways to conquer stress and live a happy, more relaxed life.
We might not be able to control stressful situations that happen around us, but we can always control the way that we react to those things. And when we start to do that, we start to really empower ourselves and change our lives around for the better.
Did you know that stress can impact us physically? The more stressed we are, the lower our immune systems become, making us more susceptible to colds, flus and even more serious, chronic diseases.
I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 years researching stress, looking at people who seem to have a pretty good handle on stress and others who seem to be ‘stressed all the time’ and I’ve noticed a number of strategies that seem to work.
I’m going to share these strategies with you today, because you know what – I don’t want you to be stressed anymore.
I want you to live the life that you deserve.
A life that’s free from worries and strain and anxiety. A life that’s fun and easy and rewarding.
So here are my top 10 strategies for conquering stress. I truly hope they help you, as much as they have helped me over the last few years. I can proudly say that I have reduced my stress levels by at least 90%, just by changing a few things and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
1. Pay attention to your breathing. I’ve studied this in-depth and research has shown that there is a direct correlation between breathing and stress. When we are stressed our breathing rate tends to increase and become more shallow, as we breathe from the upper part of the chest. To counteract this the best thing you can do is make an effort to slow down your breathing and breath form the lower part of your abdomen (your diaphragm). This literally slows down your heart rate and reduces the symptoms of stress.
2. Take control. Instead of feeling like you’re helpless when things go wrong, take control of the situation! Look for ways around the problem and look deep inside to find your ‘fighting spirit!’ This attitude will empower you instead of feeling like you’re in a dead end with no way out. When things don’t go your way, take action and find other solutions. Refuse to be beat!
3. Count to 10. Before you say something you might regret try counting to 10 to calm yourself down. This is a great way to overcome any frustration or anger that arises as a result of a stressful situation. Often you’ll find that by the time you reach 10, you’ll be more clear-headed and less likely to snap or do something you regret.
4. Don’t be a people pleaser. Learn to say no more often. People pleasing is one of the quickest routes to stress because guess what? You can’t please all the people all the time! You’re fighting a losing battle right there. It’s OK to say no, people will still like you and they’ll respect you more if you are honest with them instead of over-committing yourself and having to cancel on things at the last minute all the time.
5. Get your stress out of your head and onto paper. Sometimes we can over analyze things leading to anxiety. I love the saying ‘analysis is paralysis! It’s really much more beneficial for you to STOP thinking about something when you find your mind starts to repeat its-self. One way around this is to write down your worries and then write down 5 potential solutions. This acts as a form of closure and stops the voice inside your head from going into overdrive.
6. Exercise. Physical activity is a proven stress buster. Get out of the house or office or wherever and get some fresh air! Exercise is a great way to relieve your mind from stress as it distracts us and ‘interrupts’ our thinking. Think about how ‘fresh’ and ‘invigorated’ you feel after exercise!
7. Eat well. Diet plays an important part when it comes to stress levels. Make sure you’re getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables. Cut out the sugars, complex carbohydrates and stimulants like caffeine. Not only will this help your brain to function better it will also keep your body in shape, which will increase your confidence levels.
8. Practice gratitude. Research has shown that when we focus on what we’re grateful for we activate stress busting, feel good hormones. This is a surefire way to combat negative thinking: when we are grateful we are certainly not being negative are we! I like to pick 3 things I’m grateful for each night before I go to bed.
9. Hang out with some animals. Regular contact with pets and animals has been proven to lower blood pressure and anxiety. Animals offer unconditional love and affection that helps to reduce stress. Just the act of stroking a pet can eliminate stress because it forces us to be ‘in the moment’ instead of worrying about future problems.
10. Learn to switch off. Instead of letting your worries control you, decide when it’s appropriate to spend time mulling over a problem. Get into the habit of compartmentalizing by ‘filing your worries’ away and referring to them later. Remember that the only person in control of your thoughts is you and you can decide when to assess any worries instead of letting them take over your life.