There’s no such thing as a stress-free life. We face challenges every day, and our bodies are designed to react automatically, equipping us to achieve more than we thought possible. But we were also designed to deal with stressful events quickly and then recuperate during a period of rest before facing the next threat. Many of the things that cause us stress today are not easily handled by fighting or fleeing. As a result, our bodies are trapped in a constant state of alert, and it’s killing us.
Stress management tips can be found everywhere, but which ones really do the trick? After compiling and comparing the favorite techniques of experts from around the world, a tally of the votes revealed the list that appears below: ten proven techniques guaranteed to stop stress.
10. Improve your diet.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. By increasing your antioxidant intake, you’ll also be fueling your immune system. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains or sweet potatoes. The slower acting carbohydrates will help you relax without the sugar “crash.” Cut down on caffeine and drink more water.
9. Get enough rest.
Our bodies are designed to repair, recharge, and refresh while we sleep. Without enough sleep, our bodies can’t keep up with the daily damage of stress. In fact, researchers have discovered that the amount of sleep we get predicts how long we’ll live.
8. Put events in perspective.
When you are being stressed by some event or situation, consider its true importance. Is it really a matter of life or death? How important will it be a month from now? Or even tomorrow?
7. Think positively.
Think in terms of solutions, not problems. Evaluate each day by reviewing progress and accomplishments instead of difficulties and setbacks. It probably wasn’t really the worst day of your life.
6. Take a time out.
When you’ve been doing battle for a few hours, it’s OK to call time out. Step away from whatever is getting to you. Give yourself a few minutes to take a deep breath, say a prayer, listen to music, or do nothing at all. The few minutes of work you give up will be more than compensated by the fresh perspective you get from your change of focus.
Exercise prepares us for the battle with stress. It helps us look and feel better, increases our energy levels, and improves our general mood. Exercise enhances our self-esteem and confidence, and helps us think more clearly. A health club or home gym is not required. Just do something that’s fun and gets you moving.
4. Simplify your life.
Not everything in our life needs to be in our life. We all accumulate excess baggage. Simplify by clearing out the physical clutter. Give things you no longer need to people who could use them. Evaluate your everyday tasks and commitments, and delegate what you can. Keeping your life simple may mean saying no to some things so you can concentrate on what’s valuable.
3. Do the stuff you hate first.
Try to tackle your most difficult or stressful tasks early in the day. We are most resilient to stress after a good night’s sleep. Hitting these tasks early puts the source of our stress behind us. Don’t procrastinate and let tasks accumulate. Learn how to break big projects up into manageable bits and get started.
2. Do something that you love.
Find something you love doing, something just for you, and do more of it. At least once a week spend some uninterrupted time doing something that makes you happy. Hike in the forest. Write a poem. Take up a hobby. Time spent doing something you love will refuel your sense of enjoyment and refresh your peace of mind.
1. And finally, the number one stress management technique: Laugh.
There’s no other way to say it: laughter really is the best medicine. Studies have confirmed that laughter actually changes our brain chemistry. It reduces the levels of at least four stress hormones. A good belly laugh produces the same cleansing effect as deep breathing exercises. Laughter strengthens our immune system and alters our perception of pain. Develop your sense of humor. Look for the humorous side of every situation. Think of ways to inject more humor into your day. Laugh!
There are numerous ways to manage stress, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to discover what works best for you. These top ten techniques are a good place to start your quest for a happier, healthier and longer life.