It’s the start of a new decade and a time when many people are trying to make more positive changes in their lives. One of the best things we can all do is focus on reducing our stress simply because of the adverse physical and mental health effects that come from not managing it. How can you accomplish this?
Dr. Alok Trivedi is a human behavior expert, founder of the Aligned Performance Institute and author of the book ‘Chasing Success.’ His 7 tips for reducing stress:
1. Measure your stress levels: At the end of each day, give yourself a score from 1 to 10 that describes your level of stress on that day. Average out your numbers at the end of the week to see just how stressed you are. Knowing where you stand is important so you can determine how strong a grip stress has over you.
2. Reduce time around the stressor: Maybe it’s a coworker. Maybe it’s an ex. Perhaps it’s watching political news on television. Whatever is causing your stress, reduce the time you spend engaged with it. In fact, do what you need to do in order to be done with this person or thing as quickly as possible so you can move forward and feel better. For those situations that you can’t avoid, ask yourself, “What is the healthiest way I can respond?” Remember, you can’t control the stressor. You can only control your response.
3. Find outlets for your stress: Whether it’s hitting the gym or reading a book, everyone needs an outlet to reduce their stress. This is usually around an activity that you enjoy and find pleasurable. Whatever it is that takes your mind off the hustle and bustle of everyday life and makes you feel free, do more of it.
4. Max O2 Breathing: Most people are adding to their stress due to improper breathing, or breathing through the chest. Instead, slow your breathing and inhale through the diaphragm (stomach area) for seven seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and slowly exhale through the lips for seven seconds. This prevents hyperventilation, makes you feel calmer and allows the mind and body to reset.
5. Get rid of your family: For 30 minutes, that is. No matter where you live, what you do for a living or any other life circumstance, everyone needs to take at least 30 minutes each day for themselves. If you’re not taking the time to relax, refresh and recharge your mind and body, you’re going to drown in stress and be unable to function at optimal performance.
6. Take a Freedom Day: A longer version of “me” time is taking an entire mental health day all to yourself. In fact, many companies now offer these to their employees. This is a day you spend doing whatever you want, wherever you want and with whomever you want. There are no rules to be followed except getting away from the grind and having fun.
7. Slow down: We live in a very fast-paced time where we are all super connected and multitasking is a way of life. If you want to reduce your stress, as Supertramp said, “Take the long way home.” Walk instead of run. Take the scenic route. Focus on completing one task at a time. Admire your surroundings. Taste your food instead of gulping it down. Disconnect from social media and the internet for just one day. Be present in all that you do.
8. Stop being so rigid: Having these set and strict expectations to follow isn’t healthy. Instead, be fluid and go with the flow more. Things don’t always have to go your way and you don’t always have to be in control all of the time. Learn to let go, relax and let life take you wherever it does.