7 Pieces of Practical Advice to Reduce Stress

Stress is a condition that a lot of people today suffer from.  We live a more and more busy lifestyle which a lot of times makes us get stressed out.  Yet there are a lot of remedies for it; here are 7 pieces of practical advice for reducing stress.

1. Deep breathing against shallow breathing

Breathing deeply can help reduce stress and provides the brain with oxygen so as to help it concentrate.  The majority of people don’t know how to breathe deeply, which is why they end up breathing superficially, which could cause hyperventilation.

Place your hand on your stomach and position your abdomen normally.  Then breathe deeply and watch as your abdomen and chest rise.  Whenever you do this, think about some aspect of your breathing, like the expansion of your lungs with air, or the air itself, passing through your nostrils.  Hold it for three seconds and then exhale through your mouth.  Performing five rounds of deep breathing, three times a day, will greatly reduce your levels of stress.

A lot of people take the benefits of deep breathing for granted.  It is an integral part of stress reduction that cannot be overlooked.  And the most important thing is that you give your mind something to concentrate on, something other than the stresses of the day.  Deep breathing is a definite distraction.

2. Muscle relaxation

The process of slowly tensing and then relaxing your choice of muscle groups is also very important.  This achieves two objectives: it naturally relaxes muscles because they are probably more tense from stress and you also distract your mind, helping it to center on something different.

Stretch your muscle groups.  Tense them for five to 10 seconds and then release the pressure, relaxing your muscles.  You can do this same routine for multiple muscles.  You get to choose which muscles to focus on.  For example, start with your feet and ankles and then stretch ad tense your wrists, arms and shoulders.  Lastly you can focus on your neck and face.

Throughout the morning or the afternoon, laying flat on your back, cross your right leg over your body and twist your hips so your knee touches the floor.  Do the same thing with the leg.  You can also pull your knees towards your chest, etc.

3. Connect with the land

HappinessSitting down and getting distracted by your stress, hoping that it will disappear by itself, will only make things worse.  The trick is in the land.  Imagine yourself doing some sort of tangible activity that brings you back once again to reality.  This will make you remember that you are fine, distract your mind by doing some sort of concrete chore around the house, like cleaning, washing laundry, organizing your dresser, etc.  You could also read, do a word search, or call a friend.  Or, try to clench and anti-stress ball or some other object in your hand that your can focus on, etc.  Don’t sit around by yourself at home and don’t watch TV.

4. Thought replacement 

Replacement techniques have been around for years, and the truth is they only work if you know how to use them.  Whenever you experience a negative thought that is causing stress, tell yourself to “stop”.  Write it down and then cultivate and alternative thought.  Alternative thoughts are simple, more rational thoughts that bring you more peace.  They help you see the bigger picture.

For example, if you think you’re going to be fired from your job because recently you came in late to a very important meeting, stop this thought immediately and replace it with more rational thoughts: “I am only human and traffic cannot always be predicted.  My self-esteem does not depend on being the perfect employee.”

5. Guided imagery

Close your eyes and try to think of a safe place that represents peace and calm.  This could be your house, a beach, a forest, or it could be in the presence of someone you love or your favorite pet.  Then imagine going up and embracing the experience with open arms.  What do you hear, smell, and see?  Be specific and continue deepening the image details until you feel your level of stress lowering.  Try this twice a day.

6. Accept anxiety

Accepting the symptoms of stress is the first step towards reducing its power over you.  Accept that you are afraid and take a look at the negative thoughts that you have.  Is it dangerous or uncomfortable?  The majority of time, stress is anticipatory, which is when you become panicked about things in the future that still haven’t come to pass, or about things that will never happen.  Don’t assume that just because you’re stressed there has to be some sort of hidden danger.  Stress distorts your thoughts and makes you think in that way.

7. Exercise

BicyclingEveryone knows that exercise releases endorphins, which are responsible for the increase in the mind’s ability to raise emotional states and feeling good.  Exercise not only means intense cardio activities or going to the gym for three hours every day.  It means just being as active as possible, like walking for 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a day.

It could also mean cardio, like riding a bike, a short but fast walk, playing tennis or golf.  It could also mean taking a yoga or Pilates class.  The more active you are, the better you will feel.  If you are addicted to television, it will be much more difficult to raise your emotional state and reduce stress.