We have an enormous number of thoughts on our mind each day. With the rise of technology and pressures around us, outside stresses and burdens have been (and will continue to) increase. This has created large mental health problems as well as lower levels of happiness on a systemic level.
The numbers and trends, at large, often look bleak. That said, there are tangible solutions to work away from stress and negative daily experiences. Doing so will not only make you happier, but it will make the initial investments net positive on your productivity as well.
With happier and calmer minds, we are able to put forth great focus towards the activities at hand, we are more creative, and we are able to keep it up sustainably.
Here are 8 activities that you can practice each day that will reduce your stress levels and lead to a higher-quality life:
You probably expected to see it. Although it has become a bit cliché at this point, there is a reason that exercise is on every de-stress list. It has enormous physical and mental health benefits.
Being physically healthier will improve your mood and energy levels. The process of working out releases endorphins that make you happier. Additionally, exercising provides a great opportunity to clear your mind.
2. Learn to quiet your mind.
When we are stressed, our mind is often racing between a hundred different things. That enhances the negative experience and makes it harder to escape.
Learning how to quiet your mind, though, will enable you to take a step back in any discomforting situation that you find yourself in. If you are able to clear your mind under stress, think about the situation pragmatically, and cool down, the issues will be solved with frequency. Taking a step back and quieting your mind will reduce your stress level.
Learning how to quiet your mind can come from a variety of different exercises. Some enjoy yoga, others try formal meditation, and others practice focusing on their breathing for five minutes a day. Over time, practicing one of these activities, or something similar, will help you develop the skill of quieting your mind.
3. Talk to those you love.
Our loved ones are good at helping us feel better. You have to be careful to avoid treating them as frequent crutches, but they are here to support you. Sometimes sharing everything on your mind, or venting for a few minutes, or even talking about an entirely different topic can help reduce your stress.
4. Be grateful.
Many studies have indicated an increase to happiness levels when people write down five things they are grateful for at the end of each day. Picking up that habit is a formal way to reduce stress and increase happiness.
Even informally, though, during difficult times, remembering all of the good in your life and in the world can be extremely relaxing. We are lucky to be here with all that we do have. We should not let a project or a challenging situation distract us from that. The act of gratitude helps us take a step back and remember that our problems are not as large as we feel they are in the moment.
5. Explore your creativity.
Albert Einstein would often play the violin when his brain was in a funk or he was stressed out. He was, in fact, quoted saying “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.”
Whether it’s through instruments, drawing, dancing, or other means, art is a great outlet to reduce your stress level. It can take your mind off of the situation at hand, and, instead, put you in a much happier place. Although picking up your guitar will not solve any problems for you, it will give you a chance to decompress. Plus, you might even think of solutions to your struggles while doing something creative.
6. Take care of your bodily health.
You cannot forget to eat well, drink water, and get sufficient sleep. There are times when the craziness of life creates imbalances in these important areas, but you should aim to avoid them.
Although we are more than able to sacrifice a few hours of sleep one night and skip breakfast the next day, doing so is not sustainable. It is through healthy food, hydration and sleep that we are able to maintain energy. These levels of energy, in addition to powering us through our days, also help us avoid stress.
It takes energy to put the pending deadline in the back of your mind or to ignore your annoying coworker. When you are not giving your body what it needs to be energetic throughout the day, you are doing yourself and your levels of stress a disservice.
7. Observe the contexts that cause you stress.
Although it is more of a project, pinpointing the types of situations that cause you anxiety is a high-value way to reduce stress in the long-term.
On a daily basis, this translates into recognizing times when you are stressed out. Instead of judging yourself for the feelings, which just create another negative internal dialogue, try to observe. What caused the stress? How does it make you feel?
From there, you can try to take your mind off of the feeling. Let yourself get distracted by something that can totally consume you. Maybe this is listening to music or performing a few challenging math problems. The point being that you begin to quiet the voice in your head that signals stress.
In the immediate, it takes energy and effort, but it will also make the moments when you can forget your worries more enjoyable. Over time you will become less and less stressed out. Plus, you will be more ready for the situations in which stress might arise.
8. Spend more time doing what you want.
As you learn about the situations that cause you stress, you should consider why they are occurring in your life. If it is your job, for example, then consider why you are still subjecting yourself to that work. Is there another position you could find that would pay similarly and be less anxiety-provoking?
It is easy to feel trapped in our daily routines and lives. The reality, though, is that we can typically make changes. The more that you do what you want, the happier and more stress-free you will be.
Managing your stress levels is a very high-leverage endeavor.
As you work on managing your stress levels each day and develop tactics to help yourself in both the short and long term, you will begin to lead a happier and more energy-filled life. You will lose less to negative thoughts and, instead, be able to put your efforts into what makes you happy. Due to the dramatic impact that this can have on your quality of life, it puts a large emphasis on working to combat stress starting today.