10 Ways to Reduce Stress

Have you been feeling stressed at all lately? Last week we looked at 10 ways to tell if you're experienceing stress. Now, how are some tips to reduce stress:

1) Identify the Problem

Until you know what exactly is causing you stress you have no power over it. This is not always a simple task - sometimes the root cause of stress isn't obvious, and it can take many forms on the surface. But for a stressful situation to be managed, it must first be pinpointed as much as possible. Talking it over with a friend or doing some personal reflection is often the best way to start. 

2) Have Fun!

When we're stressed we tend to over-analyse the problem, which only increases its complexity and the amount of space it's taken up in our heads. Doing something to distract ourselves - something fun and enjoyable - and just taking time out gives our minds a break while reminding us of a life worth living.

3) Spend Time With People Who Care About You

Sometimes when we're stressed our instict is to try and cope on our own, or we're so overwhelmed by our circumstances that we simply forget we have friends and family who are not only there for us but willing to help, even if all they can do is listen. Talking about what's causing us stress helps us to process it and get it back into perspective. 

4) Get Creative!

Being creative in any way (music, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, writing, cooking etc) can be a great way to release stress. Like having fun, being creative helps your mind concentrate on something other than the problem, but it also allows you to express your feelings in a healthy way. 

5) Get Active! 

Exercise is another great way to channel stressful energy into something constructive. Whether that be going to the gym, doing an outdoor activity like horse riding or bush walking, or simply going for a walk on the beach, getting active can help us clear our head and give us the energy to keep going even when we think we can't.

6) Indulge in Something Beautiful

Beauty has the power to heal and to reduce stress. Indulging in it may be as simple as walking around a nice garden, watching a sunset/sunrise, listening to calming music or even just eating at a good restaurant. People talk about stopping to 'smell the roses', and with good reason.By slowing down enough to enjoy the beautiful things in life, we are also giving ourselves the chance to relax.

7) Learn How to Say No

Sometimes our inability to say no is what gets us into a stressful situation, and refusing to say it even when we are stressed only compounds the problem. When we want to please others we often agree to do things we realistically can't do and/or shouldn't try to. The result is that we feel overwhelmed and used. While it may cause another some temporary discomfort, by learning to say no we empower ourselves to take back control of our lives. 

8) Don't Try to Control the Uncontrollable 

Often when we are stressing it is about something we can't control (e.g. the past, the future, another person etc). Doing so only causes us to get worked up and frustrated because we are face-to-face with our own powerlessness. Instead, we need to try and accept what we can't control, and focus on changing our response to be more healthy. 

9) Reevaluate Your Standards

Melinda Smith and Robert Segal say: 'Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with 'good enough".' 

10) Spoil Yourself

Do something for you. Whether that be indulging in a massage, having a day out or buying yourself a gift, a great way to reduce stress is to spoil yourself in whatever small way you can. This reaffirms to yourself that you are valuable, while also giving you something positive to think about. 

Stress should never be a way of life. It can give us the fuel we need to conquer something, but living in a constant state of stress is damaging to our emotional and physical health. If this is you, think about which of the above suggestions you can apply in your life now

Therefore we do not lose heart.