I’m pretty sure I’ve felt stressed from when I was a kid. Things I read or heard someone say would stress me out.
My biggest stressor was probably worry. And boy was I good at that…it took until I was in my twenties that I found the worrying time technique that I managed to get that one handled.
From tiny minor upsets to huge overwhelming crises, however we cut it, stress of one kind or another tends to be a part of life. It seems that life is as complicated as hell these days.
We all know by now that the only thing we have control over is us, so while it might be impossible to control the events and circumstances that crop up in life, we can and should control how we respond to them. Especially knowing that chronic stress can take its toll on our health and wellbeing.
As someone who has managed to live life with more stress experiences than I care to remember and tested many stress relief options, I’ve discovered sadly that there isn’t one remedy for everyone. Wouldn’t that make life a piece of cake?
It took a while, and a lot of searching and practicing, before I found these stress relieving strategies that have calmed my mind, body and spirit and supported transformation in my life.
And since I’m a self-improvement and hopefully inspirational writer and author it seems this is a great time to continue to talk about my favorite topic. You’ve guessed it. Living happier, more fulfilling successful lives.
I don’t know what your future might be, but I definitely know that reducing stress in your life can help convert that stress energy into something that can bring you joy and fulfillment and give you the space to teach you more about yourself.
I’ve written numerous times about how we would live a happier life if instead of focusing on negative narratives and things we have no control over, instead we focused on the things we can control. Even if in the scheme of things they don’t seem very important.
Add those tiny things together and we get bigger things.
You know that right? Right.
And it’s handy to have a variety of stress relieving strategies in your pocket, so here’s four that I hope will work for you.
A great stress reliever is to revisit your sense of wonder
You remember that feeling when you were a kid and saw something you weren’t aware of before and found yourself in awe? That’s what we’re looking for.
And today we’re all so distracted for most of the time, we hardly have time to find wonder in anything other than what’s right in front of our nose. Usually our computer – which is more than likely stress inducing than stress relieving!
So I ask you, when was the last time you experienced a sense of wonder, of true awe? Perhaps you saw a sunset recently or watched a tree beginning to blossom in the Spring? Or perhaps you haven’t experienced wonder at all lately.
Well maybe now’s the time to revisit your ability to experience wonder.
Because wonder is a state of attention that brings us all a greater sense of calm. It connects us to something beautiful and remarkable. Something beyond ourselves.
And as we continue living in this stressful world, it’s never been more important to cultivate your sense of wonder, as regularly experiencing a sense of wonder will help lower your stress levels.
I discovered this strategy after my husband passed away. It was many, many months later that one day I looked up and saw the stars and gazed at them in wonder. This is the very first thing that helped me, for a few minutes, to feel more alive and more connected to the world around me and to even find some pleasure in it.
Surround yourself with plants
A conclusion from a 2015 study by The National Library of Medicine was that:
…interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. This is accomplished though suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable, soothed natural feelings.
No wonder I’ve always found having plants around the house feels good. Added bonus – some plants can clean pollutants from the air!
I’ve tended to gravitate towards plants that are easy to maintain and also help the air stay fresh like Schefflera. But, having said that, I also love Moth Orchids, which aren’t known for helping to grow fresh air – but just looking at them makes me feel happy.
That’s the fascinating thing about plants, finding one that generates feelings of happiness when you look at it and, even if only for a moment, stress has been shown the door.
Don’t get me wrong stress can be a useful tool. Getting ready to publish my first book was stressful. Building a webpage was stressful.But it was a useful tool to keep me motivated and on track. Stress can keep you safe – that’s a good form of stress. But when you’re constantly stressed about money, or relationships, or health that’s stressful in the wrong way. And that’s when having a few easy strategies under your belt comes into play.
Tap into the spirit of gratitude
I’ve written about gratitude a lot, because I know how valuable the energy of gratitude is in supporting a happier life.
I love what Abraham Maslow said:
Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively the basic good of life, with awe, pleasure and wonder, and even ecstasy.
Reminiscent of revisiting our sense of wonder maybe?
According to Dr Robert Emmons, author of Thanks? How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, grateful people report consistently higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.
Gratitude is a wonderful antidote to stress. Taking time to reflect and reframe your interpretation of a present or a past event might just prove the greatest strategic gift to transform your life.
Dance and stress less
I know it sounds a bit weird. But it genuinely helps. I have never been that great of a dancer, I took dance classes after I first came to the States from the UK. I was by myself, lonely after the passing of my husband and was looking for something enjoyable where I could interact with others, with the idea of being less caught up in myself and my loneliness. I didn’t need more stress to add to my list by me being my only focus.
I was pretty bad…but even so the school took me to a dance competition with others who were far more competent. They even gave me a fancy smanshy dance dress to wear – it didn’t help, lol. I was still dreadful, but I found it was fun.
And interestingly enough shortly after my dancing lessons were over I read something that Plato wrote:
‘He said that dance, ‘of all the arts, is the one that most influences the soul’.
And this was backed up by Nietzsche, who said:
‘We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.’
So I decided just dancing around the house to happy clappy music was a feel- good way to help me stress less.
If you’re filled with horror at the thought of dance classes, you can reap the feel good rewards by dancing at home, like me! Find a favorite piece of music turn it up loud and away you go.
There’s an app I read about, but haven’t tried, that might fit the bill for you. Just Dance Now. And I’m sure there’s a bunch of YouTube videos and other apps – so dance your heart out and enjoy less stress.
Encourage one another.