Chronic stress is a major problem in our society today. Ask physicians what a major concern of patients walking through their doors and they’ll say stress. In a world where hustle and bustle are oftentimes applauded, the reality is chronic stress can cause a host of problems.
Health experts report that various sicknesses and diseases are caused by chronic stress and worry. The weight of stress over time can wreak havoc on the mind and body.
Have you ever been so stressed out that your heart feels like it’s going to bust out of your chest? Or feel like your mind is going crazy? Thoughts racing, perhaps causing you to not be able to fall asleep? Or waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep because your mind starts running?
Or yelling at a loved one (or stranger, as in road rage) because you blew your stress lid?
It’s not an ideal way to live, but the good news is that there are simple ways you can manage your stress levels. The first step is to commit to practicing them.
There are many people who know that they struggle with chronic stress, but they're not willing to do much about it. They may have a stressful job, which they may or may not be able to reduce the stress load. However, there are plenty of things they could do once they get off of work to reduce those stress levels. It's just making a commitment to practice this kind of self-care regularly.
Self-discipline is a characteristic that we could all benefit from. It's easy to get home from work throw a frozen dinner in the microwave and sit and binge watch Netflix the rest of the evening. And this might work for some to reduce a bit of stress, though it might not do much for chronic stress build up.
But there are plenty of other ways to manage stress levels in healthier ways. That's not to say that watching some television or eating a frozen meal occasionally is not alright. When in balance, things like this are fine.
But keep in mind that chronic stress does a number on your nervous system. So, you want to be aware of this as you select stress reduction techniques or habits to use regularly in your life. It's going to take some effort, but you are worth it.
Your level of peace is worth it.
The following are excellent stress reduction tips and techniques for you to use regularly, so you can decrease your stress levels.
Talk to the meditation gurus who have tapped into extreme peace and joy and they will tell you that your breath is more powerful than you think. Deep breathing does miraculous things to your body, as it relieves tension in your muscles and helps clear your cluttered mind.
I’m sure you have heard people talk about how they felt better after taking a few deep breaths when they were all in a tizzy about something. We know deep breathing helps, but we usually don’t follow through with it.
Begin today to commit to taking time each day to just sit or lie down and breathe slowly, deeply for a few minutes. Or when you feel stressed throughout the day, take two or three deep breaths.
Relax. Let the stress go.
It’s easy to let the mind gravitate toward the negative when situations come, so you have to almost force yourself to become an optimist. Things may not always go your way in life. You will get ultra-busy. Your boss may be putting major pressure on you. You may be tired of your job. Or get bored. Or struggle with a host of other things.
Choose now how you’re going to respond. Will you look for the silver lining? Can you offer gratitude for the good in your life? Can you choose optimism?
Fill your mind with positive thoughts, as they tend to cancel out the negative ones. If a negative thought comes, refuse to entertain it. Purposefully change that negative thought to something positive. You can retrain your brain to automatically think positive on a regular basis.
That’s not to say you go around ignoring everything and just paste on a smile. It’s alright to temporarily feel stress or the gravity of whatever situation you’re encountering. However, you don’t have to get stuck there. Choosing to believe that you can get through it, while enjoying some peace along the journey, is doable.
Make this your aim.
Regular exercise is a wonderful way to reduce stress and get fit at the same time. Stress can build up in the body, making you feel tired and cranky. Exercise can get that pent-up energy out, so you feel lighter and less stressed.
Also, when you exercise, your body will release endorphins. These are chemicals that give you a sense of well-being. Some people call them “happy chemicals”. Whether you take a brisk walk around the block, do some yoga, lift weights, or work in your yard, you’ll be reducing the amount of stress build up in your body. This will help you feel better.
Why are you in such a hurry? Why must you rush everywhere? It might be because we live in a society that equates productiveness with busyness.
It was Socrates that said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” What this means is that busy does not always mean productive. It might mean that you are stressed to the max. It could mean that you’ve gotten yourself into this “busyness” habit and don’t really know how to slow down.
So, decide today that you’re going to slow down. You’re going to take time to pause and smell the roses so-to-speak. Take time to get quiet with yourself. Take some time to pamper yourself.
Rejuvenate. Life is not a race; it’s a journey to be enjoyed.
We can’t argue the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. There are plenty of studies and many people that will attest to the fact that when they started practicing mindfulness and meditation, their stress levels dropped quite a bit. Being mindful means that you are present in the moment. You're paying attention to what's occurring right here, right now, as opposed to being off somewhere in your head. It's dropping down into your body, rather than being lost in thought.
It's living in the now, paying attention to your breath.
Meditation is a practice where you can learn quiet your mind with all of its thoughts. It's going within, sitting quietly, and focusing on your breath. It's a spiritual practice that's been around for thousands of years and is quite helpful for reducing the amount of anxiety and stress. Make a commitment to practicing mindfulness and meditation daily. I think that you'll find this to help your stress levels immensely.
The hardest part about mindfulness and meditation is actually taking the time and energy to practice them. But once you get into the habit, it should come quite easily for you and you will reap great benefits.
Stop doing the things you absolutely do not NEED to do. They could be time wasters or things that stress you out that you could really live without.
Maybe you can leave your iPhone at home sometimes, so you don’t feel the need to check it every two minutes. Or perhaps you don’t have to engage in long, drawn out conversations with your neighbor every evening after work. Are you doing excessive people pleasing? Wasting more time than you really have?
Figure out what you can stop doing in order to make your life more peaceful and give you back some of your valuable time.
It’s no fun being bogged down with anxiety and chronic stress. How stressed do you think you are? On a scale of 1 – 10, what’s your number?
You may not feel like it, but you do have some choices. And, you have every right to take inventory of your life to see how you can stress less and enjoy peace more.
Utilize these tips and techniques for stress reduction consistently. You deserve a life where you experience more peace and contentment. Go for that kind of life on a daily basis.