Stress is something we all have to deal with almost every day. But do you really know what stress is? Or where it comes from?
Before I introduce you to 10 natural ways to reduce stress, let me answer these questions first.
What is stress?
Stress is a gap between something external and your ability or confidence to deal with it. It can also come from needing something to happen.
When you get stressed, your body answers with a chemical and emotional response, along with negative thoughts. Those thoughts create negative emotions that trigger more negative thoughts. So, you end up trapped in a vicious cycle of stress.
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4 Types of Stress
There are 4 major types of stress:
- Time stress. This is caused by not having enough time to do all the things you need or want to do. We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives.
- Anticipatory stress. This is anxiety about something in the future. It could be money, health, or simply a presentation or interview coming up.
- Situational stress. This is caused by an uncomfortable situation that you can’t control. It could be an emergency, getting laid off or making a mistake in front of your team.
- Relationship stress. This is stress coming from relationships. This would include your husband, wife, family members, friends or colleagues.
What Is the Real Cause of Your Stress?
Is it your boss, your kids, money, business problems, bad clients, legal issues? No, it’s none of these. These are all external situations. The stress comes from how you react to those situations.
Let me give you some examples. Two employees could work for the same difficult boss and express a different reaction to that boss. Or, two people could have the same money problem, but a different response to that problem.
So it’s not the external event that causes you stress. It’s how you respond to it. Stress comes from your reaction to the situation, not the situation itself. This is extremely important!
The Stress Is Coming from You
Stress is a gap between the situation or something external and your ability to deal with it. A calm person thinks, visualizes, and imagines things differently from an anxious person. The key thing is that the stress is coming from you. It is self-created. It’s your reaction to the circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.
So ask yourself, how are you responsible for the stress that you’re experiencing? Are you creating it or allowing it into your life? Taking responsibility and control is key to long-term success in reducing stress.
Your Confidence Is Crucial
Why do some people get stressed and others don’t? It partly depends on your belief about whether you can deal with the situation or not. If you feel confident, you’re less likely to feel stressed.
Those beliefs come from your past experiences. If a certain event was stressful in the past, then you may well believe that it will also be stressful in the future. If it was easy and comfortable in the past, then you’re less likely to feel stressed about it. You will probably think it will be easy again.
Yet, many things that have stressed you previously, might not be a problem now. For example, delivering a presentation was very stressful the first time you did it. But since then, you have done it many times, and it became routine. Your confidence and competence improved, and the stress was reduced.
Excessive Stress Causes Problems
There are many problems caused by excessive stress. Here are some of them: difficulty concentrating, weight loss or weight gain, sleeping problems, negative thoughts, loss of sex drive, procrastination, aches and pains, short temper, depression, unhappiness, and increased use of artificial things to help you relax, such as alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.
Manage Stress Symptoms!
To reduce stress, you need to work on two things. First, deal with the causes and your reactions to them. Second, manage the stress because sometimes it can take time to resolve the causes.
There are good and bad ways to reduce stress. Good ways include exercising, meditation, spending time with family and friends, or having a hobby. These are healthy and empowering. Bad ways, like gambling, drinking, taking drugs, or overeating, give you short-term benefits. But, they have long-term negative effects on your health and that will create more additional stress later in life.
The 10 Natural Ways to Reduce Stress
Now, I’m going to cover my 10 natural, helpful and efficient ways to reduce stress. They will help you manage and eliminate it.
1. Identify the things that stress you out
Is it your work or is it a relationship? Is it money or is it health? Is it uncertainty about the future? Before you can manage or eliminate the stress you must know where it comes from. Get really specific and into details. What is it about the work that’s stressing you out? What is it about your relationship that’s causing your stress? What is triggering that stress response?
2. Eliminate stress
If you can, eliminate stress now! Maybe a friend or a co-worker is causing you stress. Take some time away from that person. Even just for a while.
If you can’t eliminate stress now, make a plan to eliminate it in the future. For example, if you hate your job, you will probably have to find another one before you quit. That might take some time. If it’s money that’s stressing you, create a plan to make more money. Do more training, get new qualifications, or find a better job.
If it’s a lack of time, then slow down. Take on less, say no more often, and give yourself more time and room to grow. Just be more patient with yourself.
If it’s relationships, remember that you can’t control other people. You can only influence them. This mind shift alone may be enough to help you reduce or eliminate stress around other people.
3. Decide to do it or let it go
Ask yourself: Can I deal with this right now? If yes, go on and do it. If no, let it go. It’s pointless to stress about things that you can’t do anything about.
Are you one of those people who often check their emails on the phone? Let me give you one little tip. Before you do that, ask yourself: Can I deal with what I might see in my inbox right now? If you can’t, if you don’t have the time, don’t check your emails. Otherwise, you’re just creating additional stress.
4. Know what you can and what you can’t control
You can’t control other people. You can’t control the economy. You can’t control changes that might happen in your workplace. There’s no point in blaming someone or something else. Accept it the way it is. That’s not an easy thing to do in practice, but dealing with things that you can’t control is the key. Accept what you can’t change. That gives you the energy to focus on the things that you can change.
5. Watch funny YouTube videos
This is a great stress reliever. There is a saying, which you probably heard, that laughter is the best medicine. What about laughter is the stress medicine? Laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress.
A good laugh forces you to take in lots of oxygen, and it decreases stress hormones. It increases your immune cells and also your infection-fighting antibodies. It improves your resistance to disease. It releases endorphins which are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. It can even help relieve pain.
Find funny YouTube videos, watch comedies, play jokes, or listen to funny podcasts. Anything that’s going to make you laugh.
6. Talk it over with someone
Talk about your situation with other people and get their advice. That could help you gain a different perspective. It could also be a chance to release your emotions. Once you talk it through with someone, it might not seem as important as it once did. You can also learn how others dealt with things that are stressing you.
7. Consider the worst-case scenario
A lot of stress comes from asking but not answering “What If” questions. Think about the worst-case scenario. Ask yourself how would you cope if that worst-case scenario actually happened. If you messed up that presentation, what would be the consequences? Probably not as bad as you would think. Most likely, you would not lose your job.
8. Repeat positive affirmations
Positive affirmations help change negative thoughts that cause a stress response. They also ease stress symptoms.
Here are some great affirmations for you:
- It always works out well in the end.
- Whatever happens, I’ll handle it.
- All challenges in life have a solution.
- The solution or resolution will come to me.
I hope you find these useful. There are many other affirmations as well, but these four are really good at helping you relieve stress.
Stress reduction is the most common reason why people meditate. Meditation reduces cortisol – the stress hormone. It helps in controlling anxiety and experiencing more positive emotions. Meditation also enables you to get behind the thoughts that are causing your reaction to a stressful situation. Any kind of meditation can help because it slows down your busy mind by focusing on one thing.
Exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It also releases endorphins that make you feel happier. Think about the last time you did some exercise. How did you feel afterward? Most probably, pretty good and in a better emotional state. After exercise, some of the issues that you were concerned with, might seem less important. Moving your body is a great stress reliever.
These are my 10 natural and efficient ways to reduce stress, manage it, and even eliminate it from your life. As always, do put these into practice! You will be surprised by the results!
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