10 Simple Ways to Decrease Stress in all Areas of Your Life
Stress is not inherently bad - stress is part of our human design and it’s there for a reason. That said, there’s a difference between being stressed here and there and being chronically stressed. Our modern lives leave many of us feeling stressed, anxious, depleted, irritable, and depressed - so much so that it’s become the norm. But just because something is common doesn’t make it normal.
“Chronic stress is a prolonged and constant feeling of stress that can negatively affect your health if it goes untreated. It can be caused by the everyday pressures of family and work or by traumatic situations.” There have been a plethora of studies around chronic stress and how it affects our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. For example, chronic stress has been shown to suppress immunity and increase inflammation. It also seems to trigger autoimmunity, and different kinds of cancers.
My Top 10 Tips to Reduce Stress
Be present in every moment
Our culture pressures us to be instantly available. Texts, calls, and emails make it all too easy to pull someone away from their priorities and respond to every other thing. My advice - answer that email or respond to that text later. They can wait. I also recommend having boundaries between work and home. I know that may sound near impossible with the current state of the world and our WFH status, but try to draw a line between work and home life so you can be fully present with the ones you love. Lastly, as it relates to presence, stop multitasking! As you move through the day’s to-do list, focus on doing one thing at a time, because multitasking is hard on the brain. Choose what you are doing and remain present with that one task until you finish. However mundane your to-do list may be, honor it and do your best. Take pride in even the most menial task. Let the present moment of your work, no matter what it is be a meditation exercise. Fully accepting the task instead of mentally fighting against it decreases stress and can help bring you inner peace.
Cherish your mornings and nights
What is the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do at night? For many people, it’s checking their social media or texts. Your morning sets the tone for the entire day ahead so make it count. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier and allow yourself time to prepare for the day. Try a 10-minute meditation, a 30-minute stroll, or lighting a candle and answering a journal prompt first thing in the morning. You will feel so much more grounded, at peace, and ready for the challenges ahead. Just like the importance of mornings, night time summarizes your day so end it in a good headspace. Do a wind-down yoga practice, read a good book, or reflect on what you’re grateful for.
Declutter your living space
Have you heard of feng shui? Read this article to see how you can benefit from feng shui practices. In short, look around at your space - if you don’t love something and it isn’t useful for you, sell it or give it to a charity. Simple as that. It has been scientifically-proven that our physical space has an impact on our mental space. Make your space a place that you love and feel happy in and declutter, declutter, declutter!
Exercise is key when it comes to mental health and stressing less. Many studies have shown that regular exercise can lead to improvements in anxiety and depression as well. My biggest tip here is to find a form of exercise that you love, that you look forward to, and that doesn’t feel like a chore. Whether it’s a barre-class, a run, a 10-minute HIIT workout, or a long walk you will feel much more clarity and it is the perfect natural stress reliever. I personally have been loving the rebounder lately, find out more about this here.
Writing down your thoughts can be an extremely effective way to reduce stress and support healing. Put pen to paper and just write whatever comes to mind - think of it like a stream of consciousness - just getting all your thoughts out there. It doesn’t need to be organized or categorized, this is your chance to let it out. If you’re not sure where to start, grab a notebook and write a list of things in your life that you’re grateful for.
Simplify your to-do-list
The to-do lists never end so don’t waste your mental space stressing about crossing every little thing off your list for the next two weeks. Instead, be real about it and make a realistic to-do list everyday. I personally think it’s helpful to start with the most urgent, sometimes time-consuming items so you can tick those off first, then add the work that is longer-term or lower priority. Really look at your list. Is it possible to do all those things today? If not, trim it down, then as you go through your day, check off or highlight the tasks as you complete them. There’s a sense of accomplishment when we do this and it helps to motivate us.
Breathe consciously throughout the day
Observing your breath is a great way to induce calm and rid off anxiety. I recommend periodically practicing conscious breathing throughout your work day, to anchor you in the present moment. The 4-4-4 breathing method is a great one. Whenever you find yourself getting stressed, take a few moments to just breathe naturally and focus on those breaths, letting worries and anxieties diffuse and drift away.
Feed Your Brain
Food has an enormous impact on our mental health. Certain foods can exacerbate anxiety and depression, while other foods can help us feel grounded, calm, and centered. I recommend staying away from sugar, processed foods, and gluten to name a few of the most triggering foods for brain fog, inflammation in the brain, and much more, Everything you eat will either feed stress or feed health, so choose the latter and replenish your brain with the nutrients it needs for optimal function, like blueberries, avocados, and extra-virgin olive oil!
Optimal sleep for most people is around seven hours per night, but it varies for every person. I’ve interviewed some of the best sleep doctors in the world and one of the major nuggets I’ve learned about sleep is that consistency is key! Go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning. There are also plant-based sleep aids I recommend to everyone to ensure a good night's sleep. Check them out here.
Did you know that you can actually reverse negative and stressful thoughts just by reading, watching, or listening to positive things? For example, classical or meditation music, a happy podcast, or a self-help book are all effective paths to quieting the mind and becoming more positive. I also recommend looking into the power of crystals to assist you on this journey. One of my favorite crystals to help stay positive and dispel negative energy is the Rainbow Fluorite Heart. There has been an enormous amount of research supporting that consistent practice can help to rewire our brains. In other words, make positivity a habit and your brain will adapt.
These simple tips, if practiced regularly, can make such a big difference in your life. Wake up and feel a sense of calm like never before, and carry it on throughout the day.