Ever since stress has been part of our lives, we’ve been looking for ways to reduce stress and build happiness. Indeed, it’s something that we can’t entirely avoid in our lives. It’s normal for us to feel areas of unease, and feel uncomfortable in general.
Stress has a way of causing that within us. As we get tense, our bodies begin to release various chemicals and hormones into our bodies. Cortisol and adrenaline.
Because of those chemicals, we can often use stress as a useful tool. But when we feel overwhelmed with stress, it means we’ve got too much or that we’ve been unable to manage it properly.
To reduce stress requires mental strength and a willingness to look within yourself. As you read through this remember that you won’t be able to remove stress from you entirely. However, the tactics I’ll share here will help in building happiness and reduce stress to manageable levels.
Reduce Stress Through Exercise
Remember that stress releases a lot of adrenaline and cortisol. These two chemicals basically influence our “flight-or-fight” instincts. With this in mind, it makes sense for us to trigger our fight instincts and start to pump iron.
Exercise provides all kinds of benefits and one such one is that it’ll reduce stress.
During physical activities, our brain will produce two other chemicals: dopamine and serotonin. These are feel-good chemicals that boost our happiness, but also encourage us to do more. Exercise also boosts the supply of endorphins as well which help us in feeling satisfied.
So what can you do to put more exercise in your life? Here are some suggestions:
- Create a workout plan. Or consider one of the many fitness apps.
- Find a fitness Youtube channel and go through the exercises on a regular basis.
- For those starting out, start small by going for regular walks or jogs.
- Try to get your exercising done in the morning as it’ll set the mood for the rest of the day.
Boost Happiness By Watching What You Eat
The saying “you are what you eat” has some grain of truth to it. If you eat food that your body doesn’t like, you’re going to feel terrible. And that’s not me saying that. There has been plenty of studies that have shown how particular foods affect our brain and it doesn’t just cover the sugar.
You want to be focusing on foods that are going to help you reduce stress and boost your happiness. With that in mind, I’d suggest avoiding – or limiting – the following:
- Coffee or anything with lots of caffeine.
- Any processed foods.
One note I’ll make with salt is that having some salt is good. But I know they sneak that in all kinds of stuff and you only need a little bit each day.
Some foods that you want to be replacing with those are foods that will curb those cravings. Examples are foods with natural sugars like berries and other fruits. You also want to be looking at sources of proteins, helpful fats, and carbs.
You also might want to pick up vitamins as well. Particularly these ones:
- Vitamin C & B
- Magnesium & Calcium
- Vitamin D3
All of these vitamins will help in not only managing stress but provide some other helpful vitamins to boost your mood.
Relax Your Mind
Before I started to write this piece I was talking to my cousin about this topic. He shared with me an interesting story about a man who was suffering from back pain. The back pain wasn’t the interesting part, but rather the doctor’s diagnosis.
The man went through a physical because he was going to go on vacation soon and didn’t want his back pain to be a worry. After the man went through his physical, the doctor came back to tell him there was nothing wrong with him at all. But the reason he had all of that back pain was due to stress.
The doctor then recommended all kinds of suggestions but ultimately it focused on one thing: relax your mind.
And that doctor isn’t wrong about that.
Again, stress is due to chemical imbalance all in our heads. Too much adrenaline and cortisol.
While exercise is one way to reduce stress, relaxing your mind can also help as well. So how can we relax? Here are my suggestions:
- Read a book.
- Go to a place where people won’t bother you like your bedroom or even a spa.
- Get a massage or meditate.
- Take up yoga. It’s exercise sure but it’s specifically designed to handle stress.
- Consider aromatherapy. Light up some candles to help fill the air with some stress relievers. Lavender or peppermint smells help in reducing stress.
- Plants in general also have effects on us that reduce stress too.
Reduce Stress By Venting Your Problems
The classic method to reduce stress still is relevant today. Talking about our problems to others can provide other perspectives but also for us to better accept situations. Even if you’re not fishing for a particular answer, talking still has a way for us to relax.
Some other options to consider are:
- Opt to talk about something. Sometimes talking about less stressful things is enough of a distraction for you.
- If you are venting, make sure you are venting to people who are positive and are willing to listen and understand you.
- As a general rule, avoid being around people who are dragging you down.
- If you want a more modern way of venting your problems, feel free to talk to a stranger who is willing to listen to you. While it can be frightening, it’s not that far off from venting our problems online. You’d be surprised what wisdom you’ll get. Who knows, you may make a friend out of them.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
I’ve been calling out going to bed for some time. Sleep is good and is your friend so make sure you get plenty of it. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll feel the effects of it pretty much instantly.
If you’re having issues getting to bed, here are some quick tips:
- Reduce blue light exposure before going to bed. Things that emit blue light are things like tablets, computer screens and television screens.
- Try going to bed earlier. It’ll be hard at first, but your body will eventually become adjusted to the time.
- Listen to relaxing music or read a book before going to bed.
- Or consider a military tactic for falling asleep in two minutes.
Often times we are so focused on improving ourselves or wrapped up in work we forget the things around us. Our friends, our family, our achievements. Because of this, we often take for granted a lot of things in our lives.
And so it’s during those stressful times where reminding ourselves of these things and finding ways to express gratitude that can provide some relief in our lives.
So how can you best express gratitude? Here are some of my recommendations:
- Start writing a journal. I do this from time to time when I need a reminder but I write out a list of things I’m grateful for. I also add a list of things I’m grateful for that have yet to happen.
- Simply saying “thank you” when necessary. From someone doing a positive act to telling yourself thank you.
Work On Something Your Passionate About
Something that gives you joy as well is working. When we work something that we are happy about or feel passionate about we can get lost in it. Doing this also in the morning is also wise as it sets the tonne for the rest of your day as well.
If you’re having trouble finding something that gives you joy or that you’re passionate about, I suggest taking time to look at yourself:
- If you weren’t doing the work you’re currently doing, what would be your back-up plan?
- What is a topic or industry that you were exposed to that you want to learn more about?
- What are hobbies do you have that you think you could make into something more?
Reduce Stress By Talking Less Negative And/Or Complaining
What we tell ourselves and what we project affects us as well and is a factor to reduce stress. If you’re someone who is always grouchy, complaining, or indulge in negative self-talk, chances are you have a lot of stress underneath.
The next course of action is finding ways to complain less and to indulge in those negative activities. But the reasons people do those things in the first place varies from person to person.
With this in mind, here are some general things that I think can help:
- Make an effort to change your environment and be around happier people.
- Perhaps the reason you are negative is that you lack self-esteem. Here are some ways to boost self-esteem and self-confidence.
- If you find yourself complaining about issues, turn those issues into goals and steps for you to work towards.
Reduce Stress By Forgiving And Forgetting
Holding grudges onto people can have effects on us that last us a lifetime. From my experience, they serve no purpose but to keep you chained up in the past. Whether you want to prove someone wrong and find some kind of retribution, I have one thing to say:
Deep down is that going to matter?
Fulfilling some kind of grudge at the end of the day doesn’t matter really.
People change and some people look at those events and move past them in time.
So why bother building your life around getting back at one person who wounded you?
That’s not to deny what a person has done to you was right to do so. But I find it’s better to be the bigger person and move past that and not bother harbouring ill will against someone else.
Spending Time With Others
As I suggested with venting you don’t need to necessarily vent your problems out to reduce stress. The sheer company of other people can be significant as well. A study in 2000 from UCLA tested women’s stress responses. What the study uncovered was that women who had close circles of friends had an additional reaction to stress responses. But not negative ones.
These women had an increase in oxytocin, a soothing hormone released from the brain.
Even though this study focused on women, that study sparked other studies that revealed men reacted similarly.
Reduce Stress Through Fresh Air
Even when it’s cold and not that great out, getting outside can do a lot for us. Getting outside has ways of boosting our creativity along with reducing stress. But I’d go one step farther and also suggest going to someplace different can help too.
A change in environment can do wonders as I can attest to. After all, I often take my work outside of my office. It’s times like these where I get a lot of work done.
Develop A New Perspective To Reduce Stress
In order to reduce stress sometimes the best way is to change your perspective. Yes there are all kinds of methods like the ones I mentioned above. But you can always reduce stress on a mental level.
What I’m getting at is perhaps change your view of what stress actually is.
And the easiest way to challenge that way of thinking is to ask yourself a specific question:
Would this problem I’m struggling with matter to me in five years?
Does getting stressed out and worrying about this make such a big impact on your life? My guess is probably not. Why? Because as we move on through life we all go through different problems. And the problems that we have to deal with right then won’t matter as much later on down the road.
For example, money was a big issue in my life that placed a lot of stress on myself. But when I started to land clients and get more money, it’s become less pressing of an issue. No longer am I worried about whether I can make it on my own. After all, I’m making more money to support the life I have now.
Putting problems into perspective with our overall life helps us to realize how those stressful moments are all temporary. So why worry and place so much weight on them?
Delve Into Self-Care
The last tip I’ll share is delve into self-care. Yes, a lot of the things I’ve mentioned above are more or less self-care, but it’s still worth bringing it up. It’s easy for us to use those methods to temporarily fix our lives.
Because of that, we eventually sink back into our old way of life and build up that stress all over again.
So as a reminder to yourself, remember this:
Always stay on top of your own self-care.
Don’t stick to only these methods I mentioned in this post. Take some time to look for other options like:
- Take a digital detox.
- Go on a vacation and leave your work behind.
- Express gratitude for the brief periods of peace in your life.
- And even treat yourself once in a while. Buy dinner for yourself or go to a movie by yourself.
One of the ways to change your life around is to show yourself a little bit of love sometimes.
Reduce Stress Is Possible
The stress I feel is a sign to reconnect yourself with your purpose and to tap into your inner self. From all the tips I’ve suggested, stress is all a mental battle that forces us to look at the imbalance in our lives and to find balance in it.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon