12 Success Strategies for Managing Stress and Living a Happier Life

12 Strategies for Managing StressStress: We all struggle with it in our lives. Our jobs may demand high performance and long hours; family life may include conflicts with the loved ones and busy schedules; friends may need us as a shoulder to cry on, and, last but not least, finances may be tight. Of course, the trick is that all the above occurs at the same time!

Is it any wonder that you can’t find a minute for relaxation? In fact, if you’re like most people, you may have even forgotten how to relax.

Experts say that some stress is good for us — it can sharpen our senses and minds.  However, too much stress is harmful for our mental and physical health. So, on one hand, it’s important to lead meaningful lives where we can contribute to our families, jobs and the society in general.  However, managing the stress that comes along with being productive is a challenge.  Finding that balance between being hard-working and effective stress management, is the ideal “sweet spot” where people start to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

What follows are the 12 strategies you can use — any time and almost anywhere — to reduce the tension in your life.

1. Breathe

Feeling stressed evokes fast, shallow breathing, while calm is associated with slower, deeper breathing.  Try what is called “yoga breathing”: inhale deeply through your nose, then, hold your breath on the count of 3, and then, exhale slowly though your mouth.  Repeat 5 to 10 times; you will feel more relaxed at the end of the exercise.

2. Be Organized- Learn how to Manage your Time

For the most part, stress arises from feeling overwhelmed. Take time aside to organize your daily tasks and put them in your planner. Use technology to help you with this.  Nowadays there is a variety of calendars you can use for free on your phone and your computer.  Once you put the tasks you have to do in your calendar, try your best to follow that.  Being organized and getting your priorities straight can help you break responsibilities down into manageable pieces and focus on the things that really matter to you, rather than getting caught up in details and creating extra work for yourself–all of which leads to more stress.

3.    Be Aware of your Choices

You cannot do everything you are asked.  Learn how to be assertive of your needs and say “No” to demands from others that are beyond reasonable. Remember that people who are supportive of you will understand that you have needs of your own.  Try to nurture supportive relationships and let go of the relationships that are not reciprocal and bring more stress to your life.

4. Delegate

Remember, you do not have to do it all yourself; it’s perfectly OK to delegate certain tasks to trusted others.  Even though your significant other may choose to do things differently than how you might do them, try not to get bogged down by details.  The most important thing is that you are getting things accomplished while obtaining some extra time for yourself.  If your spouse agrees to do grocery shopping, you may get the wrong kind of cheese, but you’ll have the extra few hours to go to the gym, read or spend time with your kids.

5. Exercise

Research has shown that exercising the minimum of 3 times a week, 30 min each time, with medium intensity (this means working up some sweat) leads to lower stress levels and reduces anxiety and depression.  Also, exercise releases endorphins; a feel good hormone.

6. Be Grateful

Count your blessings, be thankful for the positive things you have in life.  Paying attention to the positive aspects of your life on a daily basis will help manage stress and will put you in a positive state of mind.

7. Apologize

If you need to apologize to someone, and it will not make the situation worse, find a way to do so. Taking responsibility for something you may feel guilty about will likely normalize your relationship with that person and relieve stress for you.  More importantly, to forgive yourself; guilt adds pain to stress.

8. Soothe the Senses

Soothing your senses at the time of stress will help you relax.

  • Sense of Hearing: Listen to relaxing music, the sound of the wind rustling though trees or waves crashing on the beach. Research shows that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium.
  • Touch: Get a massage, take a shower or bubble bath
  • Taste: Enjoy that dark chocolate, ripe fruit or a good steak.
  • Smell: Light a scented candle that has a calming fragrance like lavender.
  • Vision: Take a walk outdoors and pay attention to the beauty of nature.  View an art exhibit.

9.    Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the here-and-now approach to living. It’s approaching life with the innocence of a child, without passing judgment and focusing on one activity at a time.  Staying in the present-tense can help promote relaxation and provide a buffer against anxiety and depression.

Practice it by focusing on your immediate surroundings. If you’re outdoors, enjoy the shape and colors of flowers, hear a bird’s call or consider a tree. In the mall, look at the details of a dress in the window, examine a piece of jewelry and focus on how it’s made, or window-shop for furniture, checking out every detail of pattern and style. As long as you can keep your mind focused on something in the present, stress will take a back seat.

10.  Laugh

Rediscover your sense of humor by making fun of your situation. View it from your future self’s perspective, telling this story to a bunch of your friends over pizza and soda. Laughter, whether it’s yours or someone else’s, is the best remedy for stress and it’s contagious! 

11.  Do Nothing

Give yourself permission to have short periods of time when you can do nothing at all.  Close your office door, open the window, have a seat or lie down, and take a little break from the “rat race” of life.

12.  Drink Water and Hot Tea

If you’re dehydrated that can lead to headaches, which adds to the stress.  So, make sure you drink plenty of water. Hot teas can were shown to reduce stress, especially the herbal ones, like chamomile and mint teas.  However, research has shown that people who drank hot black tea were less stressed than these who drank the same amounts of other beverages equal in caffeine.

If you would like help with stress management, please call me, Dr. Maya, on (818) 809-9519 for a free 10-minute phone consultation.

photo credit: TheeErin

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