Six Simple Ways to Reduce Your Stress Levels

Do you ever feel stressed? It’s a silly question, I know! Modern life brings so many worries and anxieties that you probably feel stressed at least occasionally … and perhaps a lot more often than that.

Whether you’re facing a demanding boss, a difficult colleague, a mountain of debt, a rebellious teen, or a computer that’s crashed and taken all your files with it, stress often seems like an inevitable part of modern life.

For most of us, it’s not a realistic prospect to avoid stressful situations altogether. Instead, we need to find ways to reduce our stress levels on a day-by-day basis, so that we’re better equipped to cope with the inevitable bumps along our path through life.

Here are six simple things that you can do – today, or at least this week – to reduce your stress levels.

#1: Take a Few Deep Breaths
Don’t ignore this because you think it’s too simple. Sitting quietly and taking a few slow, deep breaths can help to reduce stress instantly.
(Just try it next time you’re feeling worried or annoyed, and you’ll see how effective it is.)

You might also like to deliberately set aside time in your day to concentrate on your breathing – this is a form of meditation that many people use, and find helpful in reducing stress.

#2: Ask “Will This Matter in a Year?”
If something stresses you out, it can be tough to see whether or not it’s really important in your life. A mini-disaster like losing an important document, or locking yourself out of the house, or getting an angry phone call from a client can feel like a true crisis.

Most things, though, will fade in importance after just a few days or weeks. In a year’s time, will these mini-disasters have any impact on your life? Almost certainly not. By reminding yourself that “this too will pass,” you can avoid some of the anxiety associated with stressful events.

#3: Accept Help from Other People
If you’re struggling under a mountain of work in the office, or battling against never-ending chores at home, it might be time to get some help. Often, other people will be all too willing to lend a hand – you just need to ask them, or even accept the offers they’ve already made.

Some people worry that asking for help makes them look weak. The truth is that none of us can achieve great things alone: we all need some help along the way. By allowing others to help you, you give them the chance to grow too.

#4: Reduce Sources of Stress
This might seem so obvious it’s not worth mentioning – but have you really made an effort to cut down the things that stress you out? If you find yourself stressed-out every time you go shopping at the crowded local mall, for instance, can you shop online instead?

Next time something causes you stress, take a few minutes to brainstorm ways to remove it from your life – or to reduce the time you have to spend on it. You always have options: sometimes you just need to take a step back so you can see them.

#5: Improve Your Time-Management Skills
If you’re often stressed because you’re always racing to meet deadlines (or you’re missing them altogether), or if you never have time to get through all your work, the problem might lie with your time management skills.

There’s a good chance that if you’re poor at managing your time, you already know that. Maybe you have a problem with procrastination, or you struggle to prioritize different tasks. Whatever the exact issue, reading a good book on time management – or even taking a day-course – could make a world of difference.

#6: Exercise on a Regular Basis
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that exercise is good for your health … but did you know it’s also a great way to reduce your stress levels? When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel naturally good. Regular exercise can even help lower symptoms of mild depression or anxiety.

If you’ve ever been out for a jog or a brisk walk and felt much better about things afterwards, you’ll know how beneficial exercise can be. Try being more active this week, and see whether you feel less stressed.

Do you have any extra tips to add? If you’ve found a great way to beat stress, let us know about it in the comments!

Written on 8/10/2012 by Ali Luke. Ali is a writer of fiction and non-fiction and a writing coach. She blogs about writing on her site, Aliventures.com, and has a free ebook “How to Find Time For Your Writing” available when you join her writing newsletter here. Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow
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