How do we reduce stress in a world that is filled with it? Stress is something that we all face on a daily basis. For some people it is crippling, for others, simply a part of the process.
Our ability to handle stressful situations is something that will often define the level of success of our day/week/month. Deal with it well and it can be a small bump in the road. Deal with it poorly and it can be an all-consuming disaster than can derail even the best laid plans.
So how is it that some people are able to move from one stressful situation to the next with great success, whilst others are impacted by it so severely?
The answer lies with the ability to process the situation, reduce the stress and continue to move forward in a positive manner.
Before we look in to ways to reduce stress, it is important to first understand what it is and why it occurs.
Stress…what is it?
Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain. It is the bodies response to a situation that requires action and is often magnified when we feel that we are overwhelmed or out of control of a situation.
For many people stress has a variety of triggers. These triggers are created usually from experience. If something has caused stress in the past, you remember it. When it looks like it is happening again, the same (if not worse) reaction can occur.
Triggers for stress can include:
- Workplace situations. (too much to do, too little time)
- A quick change of plans.
- Being tired and as a result, emotional. (everything is magnified when this happens)
- An approaching deadline.
- Financial strains.
The list can go on…
There are hundreds of different situations on a daily basis that can cause us to stress. A lot of them we have dealt with before in a positive manner. As a result we can naturally reduce the stress without even realising. For example, waking up tired knowing you have a big day so you have a coffee. The more alert we are, the less likely we are to be stressed.
Some situations in our life however, we do not know how to deal with so well. As a result they are magnified and the chance for stress increases. For example, you have a meeting with your boss, they bring forward a deadline and you are unsure how you are going to fit it in.
It is these situations of stress that we need to reduce quickly so we can get on with our day without too much disruption.
Below are 5 ways that you can reduce stress today.
5 ways to reduce stress
Remove yourself from the situation
Taking a step back from the situation is often enough to gain better perspective. So often we become stressed because we feel that we do not have control over a situation. It is only once we have taken a step back, can we see the entire situation for what it is.
It is amazing what a 15 minute walk in the fresh air can do for perspective!
Usually, with a bit of a step back, you are able to step back in with much more effectiveness and the ability to refocus.
Understand your triggers
If you know that a stressful situation is about to occur, you can plan for it in advance. How can you be taken by surprise when you are expecting something to happen?
A big struggle for people is the stress that comes on a Sunday afternoon knowing that there is a busy week coming up. This is totally understandable.
A great way to remedy this is to quickly jump on your emails to get up to date, write down a plan of attack and go in to Monday prepared. Sometimes 30 minutes of work on a Sunday can create a week of success before it even happens.
Write it down
So often, stress is something that builds and builds in our heads. A lot of the time when the mind starts racing it is hard to get back under control. Hundreds of different scenarios play out in our brain. They are usually over dramatic and the worst possible case.
Stressing out that you haven’t heard from a friend in a while. Stressing out that you are too busy to fit everything in before a holiday. Stressing out that you might not hit your KPI’s at work. Stressing because you have a lot of commitments this week and you don’t know how you are going to fit it in.
Whatever the reason for the stress, a great way to reduce it quickly is to write it all down to get it out of your brain.
It is amazing how much things calm down when it is on paper. The brain empties and the solution often gets found. This is always a win.
Take some deep breaths
Sometimes when the stress arrives, it is completely overwhelming. A lot of information has come your way and you are unsure how you are going to be able to process it all.
A great way to remedy this is to simply take some deep breaths.
Cliche I know, but effective nonetheless.
A few deep breaths allows you to get the blood flowing, reduce the heart rate and refocus on the task ahead.
It will give you great clarity in a short amount of time and give you the ability to move forward positively.
How many times have we been stressed because of a situation that we didn’t need to be in?
The ability to say no to something, someone or even your brain is incredibly empowering.
Your friends want you to go out, but if you do you know you won’t be your best tomorrow? SAY NO.
The brain is running with a million different possibilities and the stress is becoming overwhelming? SAY NO I WILL NOT BE STRESSED BY THIS.
The simple act of saying no is an incredibly empowering thing to do. It will usually reduce stress, if not remove it all together.
To reduce stress you must bear in mind…
That you cannot completely remove it from your life forever. A stress-free life is simply unattainable. If you are someone who is looking to achieve something, anything in life, then there will always be stress involved. The ability to deal with stress, reduce it and move forward vital to our ability to grow and improve as people.
We shouldn’t be chasing a stress free life because there will always be problems, obstacles and challenges to overcome.
Deal with them appropriately and our quality of life will be drastically improved.
There is a great quote that I have always used to reduce my stress.
“If it is not in your control, why are you stressed? You have no control over it. If it is in your control, why are you stressed? You have control over it”
Take the above quote and the 5 simple tips to reduce stress. Utilise them properly today, practice them tomorrow and before you know it you will be functioning at a much higher level.
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