I was in my twenties when I first learnt about stress and how a change in thinking could relieve stress and eliminate it. I was working for a boss who was gruff, rude and arrogant, totally disliked throughout the organisation I worked for. He hated people being late and would make their life difficult. I was not enjoying my job anymore and I felt I was on my last days. I was having late nights and it was a struggle for me to get out of bed in the mornings and turn up for work.
It was a 22 minute drive to work and I used to allow myself 15 odd mins to get there. In those days the roads were still a little lawless but no matter how crazy I drove, it would be impossible to get there on time. Of course I was young and didn’t know that I was doing this subconsciously to annoy a boss I didn’t like. Many mornings were spent at traffic lights willing them to change or stuck behind cars whilst I tried to blow them off the road and out of my way with only my mind. I was trying to put square pegs in round holes. That was stress and I couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. In fact this bad start to the day, permeated through my whole day and affected everything I did by not allowing me to be in the best mood I could be in.
Do It Differently
Then one day it suddenly occurred to me to do things differently. I had a shift in thinking. If got to sleep at a reasonable hour and I got up 30 minutes earlier each day, if I did something positive in the mornings and left for work early, my whole day would be different. This was so simple and it worked really well, it was also the start of a couple of decades of personal development.
Over the years helping others I was amazed at how may people try to fit square pegs into round holes and get upset when it doesn’t work.
Reducing or eliminating stress is all about two things. The first is learning to be present and out of your negative or stressful thought process. The second is being kind to yourself.
Here are eleven great ways to relieve stress immediately – not in any order.
Relieve Stress – 11 Tips
1. Breath Slowly & Deeply.
As you allow stress into your life it creates tension in your body. The result of tension is often shallow breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply is one of the easiest stress management techniques around. Slow deep breathing goes a long way toward relaxing you. Just breath slowly and deeply all the way down into your diaphragm and then exhale slowly – but exhale for longer, expelling as much air as you can. It’s easier if you sit up straight. Focus your mind on your breathing as you do this and often this alone is enough to completely reduce tension.
2. Do Less To Relieve Stress.
Doing less is easier than you think. Eliminate all the useless things from your life. This will free up time and energy, both physically and mentally. This requires you to be conscious of what you do everyday and think about the priorities in your life. We are not designed to be constantly in “doing” mode. Your mental health requires a certain amount of “being.” Living life in a balanced state is important in regard to reducing stress. Create balance in your work, friends, family, exercise and your hobbies or anything else that is important to you.
It’s not boring to eat well in fact it’s very easy and makes you feel fantastic. Eat lots of fresh natural food and eliminate junk. It varies for different people but there are a multitude of foods that create inflammation in your body – inflammation is stress on your body. Often, you don’t have to completely eliminate something – just reduce it dramatically to get a great result. A year ago I gave up gluten, which for me really only required giving up beer, bread and pasta. It was very easy to do and occasionally I feel like a hamburger, so I have one (I have had three in one year) and it’s no big deal. The results have been amazing, I feel better and it’s easier to keep excess weight off.
4. Take Care Of Your Body With Exercise.
Exercise is ace! It has the ability to relax both your body and your mind and provides you with stress release. It doesn’t have to be a “job” make it easy, go for a walk now, play some tennis with your friend or just kick a ball with your kids. I like weight training and sprints which can be taxing, when I feel stress in other area;’s I just dial the intensity down a notch to compensate.
5. Take A Break To Relieve Stress.
Time out from what you are doing has enormous benefits. A short break is refreshing and can give you a new perspective. Take 5 minutes now. Sure, a holiday to your favourite beach will be wonderful, but sometimes all it takes is a short walk around the block to refresh you and reduce any tension that you feel.
6. Learn To Meditate Or Sit Quietly
This is a stress management marvel. Meditation relaxes your body and mind. If you can’t meditate, sit still and do nothing. Try and allow your thoughts to casually drift by – don’t follow them and don’t get lost in them. In time this will train you to let go of your thoughts and quieten your mind. This is great because it’s the way you think about things that creates stress. Learning to separate yourself from this thinking process reduces tension and stress dramatically. Following your breathing as you sit still (see 1) is a great way to achieve being present – or mindfulness. The practice of being fully present relieves stress and permeates positively into other areas of your life.
7. Reduce Noise.
Unnecessary noise is a cause of tension and stress. The sensory physical inputs we receive each day are endless and can be overwhelming and tiring. Noise can be the main culprit because loud noise is the opposite of what you would find in nature – unless a stress inducing event happens. There is increasing evidence that noise activates stress hormones. This makes sense because in nature loud noises occur for events such as a tree falling, storms and rock slides. Turn off the radio and television, even the noise from a computer has an impact. Sit in silence now. Silence is peaceful and restful, allowing you to take a “real” break. It allows you to process thoughts and emotions and makes room in your mind and allows you to connect to a higher power.
8. Get Distracted.
Distract yourself with something you love. Go to the movies or do the gardening. Get lost in a hobby. I have confiscated the kids slot car track and turned it into an grown ups race track. Great for stress relief. Doing something that is repetitive and engaging stops you thinking and brings you closer to being present – which is the ultimate stress relief.
9. Sleep will relieve stress.
Lack of sleep is linked to depression and anxiety. It’s imperative to get both enough sleep every night and to get quality sleep. With out enough quality sleep you will be tired and impatient leading to stress. Lack of sleep releases the stress hormone cortisol which is linked to a multitude of problems from weight gain to a lowered immune system. Once cortisol, the fight or flight hormone is released, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action. That means there has to be a physical release – fight or run away – otherwise cortisol builds in your body and creates both physical problems and mental problems such as anxiety.
10. Eliminate The People Who Drain Your Energy.
Sometimes people think this is a heartless thing to do but you need to reduce or eliminate contact with people who drain your energy, are negative and / or cause you stress. Some people call these people emotional vampires. They create emotion in you and this in turn, tires and drains you. They get their energy from your emotion, at your expense. If you are stuck with such a person you need to look at a healthy way to process your emotions that are raised in their presence.
11. Learn To Say “No.”
Sometimes the busy and stressed out people are the ones who take on too much because of their inability or unwillingness to say “No.” If you have trouble saying “NO” it can be a sign of deeper issues such as wanting to please others or fear of confrontation. It can also point to problems with personal boundaries and self esteem. Talk to someone who can help you resolve these issues.