We all suffer stress, and it can creep up on us in any area of our lives. We need some stress levels to put pressure on us to get things done, but too much stress, on a constant basis, is not a very healthy or contented way to live. So let’s look at 10 ways to reduce stress, in no particular order of importance, to help you live a much happier, more stress-free life.
#1 – Downsize Your Home
For many people the biggest stress in their lives is financial, and often that comes in the form of trying to afford a huge mortgage payment every single month.
Bigger homes cost more to buy. Larger homes cost more to upkeep. Big houses generally mean bigger bills for electricity, water, taxes, rates and so on.
The tiny house movement is being propelled by people who want to downsize and simplify their lives. These people also want to massively reduce their debt levels, or crawl out from under heavy debt all together.
Downsizing doesn’t have to mean moving into a tiny home. It could simply mean moving into a smaller home, where the mortgage is more manageable, and it costs less to maintain and upkeep.
You’ll also find yourself getting rid of a lot of clutter when you downsize. This means you might make a bit of extra cash selling off unwanted items as well.
If you can reduce your financial liabilities, then this is one huge way to lighten the load of stress in your life, as financial problems are notoriously one of the biggest causes of high levels of stress.
#2 – Practice Meditation Techniques
There are all forms of meditation, and some might suit you better than others. Plus, there is the option of group meditation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be done alone. And you really only need to reserve about 5-10 minutes per day to meditate if you’re doing it alone.
So what does meditation do exactly and how does it help to reduce stress?
No matter what technique you use to meditate, whether it includes relaxing music or mantras, essentially all meditation is about clearing your mind, relaxing to the point where your thoughts are shut down and you feel at peace.
It’s really hard not to have any thoughts, but with practice you can push thoughts aside. That’s often why meditation teachers train people to focus only on their breathing. Deep breathing alone is good for calming the body and mind, and when you’re simply focusing on breathing, eventually that’s all you’ll think about during the meditation process.
Meditation, on a regular basis, is absolutely worth doing.
#3 – Avoid Substances That Increase Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Now no one is suggesting you necessarily cut these out all together, but things like coffee, tea, alcohol, nicotine and various medications will increase jitteriness and stress levels, even if you’re not particularly stressed about anything.
Some people indulge in an alcohol binge to forget their problems for a while and hopefully reduce their stressful feelings. This can work after the first few drinks, but if you get too drunk, generally alcohol will have the opposite effect.
You’ll start to dwell on your problems even more, and possibly even start to get quite angry about them.
#4 – Make Sure You Get Some Rest
This will include sleep, as well as just having some down time – aside from meditation – where you do nothing for a while except chill out, preferably somewhere that’s quiet, like getting out in nature or taking a walk in the local park.
Getting some quality sleep is an absolute must if you want to stay on top of stress. Even if you are facing stressful situations, you’ll deal with them much better if you’ve been getting adequate rest and sleep.
It’s very hard to deal with anything calmly and rationally if you’re feeling tired and drained all the time, both physically and mentally.
Some people need less sleep than others. 8 hours for some makes them feel tired, but 7 works well. For others it might be 9 hours that gives them the biggest boost.
You’ll know the number of hours that works best for you. Just like you shouldn’t under-sleep, you shouldn’t over-sleep either, as it’ll just make you feel more fatigued in most cases.
#5 – Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is one of the best ways there is to stay on top of stress. Even a brisk walk every day will burn up some nervous energy, help clear your head, give you some fresh air, and keep you fitter and healthier in the process.
More vigorous exercise, such as working out at the gym at least 3 times a week, or getting involved in a sport, will work wonders for your physical stress levels, as well as balancing you out mentally and emotionally.
An added bonus is we also start feeling good about our bodies, our fitness levels, we feel like we’re doing something productive, and you just start to experience a much more positive outlook on life.
That alone will reduce stress. Everything else attached to exercise is a huge bonus.
#6 – Make Time To Socialise and Have a Chat
We all need to let our hair down from time to time and just forget about everything else in life except enjoying the moment and having some fun. What better way to do that than to get together with your closest friends and do something you all enjoy.
Having some laughs and a chat with those you really connect with is an awesome way to relieve stress and realise that everything in life isn’t super serious and something to worry about.
This isn’t to suggest getting mindlessly drunk with your mates to forget your problems. In fact, having fun with friends doesn’t have to involve any alcohol at all. It could be a day out at a theme park, dinner, movies, or even just having coffee.
#7 – Don’t Keep All Your Problems To Yourself
Many people don’t like to burden others with their problems, but it’s not a good idea to always keep things bottled up. Sometimes (not all the time) you need a friend or family member who just listens, someone to bounce things off.
This person doesn’t even need to offer you any advice necessarily. Just getting your thoughts and feelings out to a person who is willing to listen helps to lighten the stress load.
If you feel like you really need it, maybe even make an appointment to speak with a professional counsellor. It’s better to let it out rather than keep everything bottled up so you end up exploding one day like a volcanic eruption of emotions.
That’s what a constant build up of pressure will do. Everyone needs to release the pressure valve once in a while.
#8 – Learn Not To Think
This tactic pretty much relates back to the one about meditation.
It’s very hard to feel stressed if you’re not thinking stressful thoughts or worrying about something. In fact, it’s almost impossible if you can train yourself not to think from time to time.
Everything first starts with a thought, especially emotions. Happy thoughts make you feel happy, sad thoughts make you feel sad and so on. Not thinking at all for a few minutes each day actually clears out your emotional cache, which also clears your stress levels.
It’s definitely an art that needs practice, learning not to think for a while, but it can be done and it’s something very much worth learning how to master.
If you’re not thinking, you can’t feel stressed.
#9 – Time Management
There’s definitely something to be said for being organised and able to manage your time sufficiently. It will certainly make life easier and definitely reduce instances of stress.
Imagine a person who is late all the time and everything’s a last minute rush. This person not only stresses themselves out, but everyone around them too, as well as those they are late to meet, pick up or work with.
Good time management is definitely about being well organised. Some people are naturals at it, while others need to work on their organisational skills.
Making regular (daily) to do lists is one effective way of helping you manage your time, and so is making a conscious effort to realise how long something is likely going to take to accomplish. If it takes 40 minutes to get to the airport at a certain time of day, then you know what time you have to leave home to go pick up your mother or whoever.
A lack of time management and rudimentary organisation is usually more a result of laziness than anything else.
If you need to manage your time better, save yourself some stress and have a shot at working on improving in this area. You’ll end up thanking yourself and so will everyone else around you.
#10 – Learn To Say “NO”!
This simply means you don’t always have to say “yes” to everyone and everything. While saying yes to things can be a good thing, it’s really not in your best interests to say yes every single time someone asks you to do something or wants a favour.
The fastest way to build up your stress levels is making promises that you regret, or agreeing to do way too much in a short space of time.
Saying no to requests from time to time will also build your self-confidence and command respect. After all, nobody wants to feel like they’re getting walked all over by everyone around them, at work or otherwise.
All us need to learn what to say yes to and when to refuse.
Small amounts of stress are useful and positive, but it’s when we let stress levels build up to the point of overwhelming us that they can present serious problems.
Everyone needs to practice finding ways and methods of reducing and relieving stress. It’s in our own best interests to do so if we all want to live happy and contented lives.