Relax

10 Easy Strategies to Defeat Stress

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

-Hans Selye

We all feel the strain sometimes – deadlines at work, family obligations, and personal frustrations; pressures to do more, to do better.

All of these can eventually add up to a fearsome six letter word:  stress.

What does stress-free living mean to me? It’s like practicing yoga and meditation. It’s about setting an intention and taking action to bring my awareness to how I am responding to my environment – and consciously choosing to respond rather than react.

It really is how people react to stress that makes the real difference between being successful or not, according to Heidi Grant Halvorson in an HBR article.  You don’t have to succumb to stress – you can work through it and strengthen yourself.

Life may not always be stress-free, but you can experience more stress-free moments that last longer and longer.

Here are 10 practical methods you can use to defeat the stress in your life:

  1. Be compassionate with yourself and stop criticizing yourself (and others). Studies indicate that just stopping the negative judgments of yourself can be powerfully uplifting. We’re often 8840835our own worst enemy. So, stop picking on yourself. Take the Golden Rule to heart – treat yourself as you would like others to treat you!
  2. Don’t get stuck on the little things. Remember your main goal in whatever challenge you’re facing. It’s like taking a multiple choice test: if you’re stuck on one question, you don’t give up on the entire test. You move on, do what you can, and come back to the question you struggled with. Simply by giving yourself that break and not wrangling with yourself, the answer comes to you.
  3. Give yourself some space. Don’t let something overwhelm you. We give events or circumstances or people way too much power – it’s our reaction that creates the stress. Oftentimes allowing that space between you and your stress deflates it.
  4. Create a mantra. Some of my favorites are: “Nothing here is a threat to me. There is nothing to defend.” Sometimes our first response blows things way out of proportion to what they really are. Try the mantra, “Nobody died. Nobody got hurt.” That puts things in perspective very quickly.
  5. Tackle that to-do list. If you have a to-do list (and who doesn’t?), don’t just stare at the list – give yourself a deadline. Studies have shown that deciding beforehand when you will complete a task can double or even triple the likelihood of accomplishment.
  6. Give yourself the appropriate time you need to complete a task. If sorting and cleaning your closet is on your to-do list, set a date and a time for accomplishing it. Choose a day that you know you will have an hour or so free – and then start your sorting. Not only will you have accomplished the job, but you’ll also feel great about crossing something off that to-do list!
  7. Prepare your reaction by deciding how you will respond to a task or situation. If there are some unpleasant tasks you put off because you dread them, decide how you will respond when you do them. Use “if-then” planning to help you get through tough situations. Prepare your reaction – and you’ll find the task was not as unpleasant as you thought it would be.
  8. Do something that takes you out of the situation to help you regain clarity and control. Listen to calm and empowering music. Watch cute animal videos. Go for a walk. Call a friend or family member. Work on easy tasks, like running simple errands or cleaning the house.
  9. Know that you have a choice. People may feel they don’t have a choice in how they respond to stress. Awareness is a choice. We have a lot of power in how we address what is causing us stress and how we choose to respond to it When you feel distress, do something about it! Stress is a warning sign, not a condition.

And my #1 tip you can implement now to relieve stress is…

Do something nice for yourself today! You’ve earned it just by being you and traveling the road of life. The simple act of doing something nice for yourself and taking care of yourself will change your brain chemistry – and make you feel good, honored and loved… Now that’s a recipe for stress-free living!

If you’re not sure when you’ve hit a toxic level of stress go here to get the 10 signs that you are in distress.

Tell us: What’s your most helpful tip for defeating stress?