10 Ways to Ditch the Stress

Do you ever notice that when you are stressed, you develop negative thinking patterns? We become frustrated by our challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative outlook then makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward and break through the stress cycle.

Practicing positive thinking helps to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, which increases happiness and motivation. This, in turn, allows us to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling down and stuck. The following tips provide practical suggestions that you can use to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns:

1. Take Good Care of Yourself. We often forget to take care of ourselves when we are stressed, we are putting other people or things first and think we can push through. It’s much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. Make yourself a priority, even in times of stress!

2. Remind Yourself of the Things You Are Grateful For. Stresses and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things will make a huge difference. Take a break every hour and review the positive aspects of your day/life. This way, your brain gets used to paying attention to the positive things that surround you.

3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions. A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about.

4. Refrain from Using Absolutes. Have you ever told a partner “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!”? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of delivering. This will get you in a downward spiral of negative thinking, which will put your body under stress and you in a bad/depressed mood. If you have an issue with a situation, address it, clarify and move on, so the “ALWAYS” and “NEVER” lose their power.

5. Detach From Negative Thoughts. Have you ever said something like: “I hate doing this, I hate doing that”? HATE is a pretty powerful negative word and if you associate it with yourself it becomes part of how you see yourself. But your thoughts can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don’t follow it. If you notice what you say, you have the ability to choose a more positive word the next time, to describe what you are feeling.

6. Hug, love and touch your family and friends. You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch! Unfortunately these days, every touch from a stranger seems to fall under harassment, even though most of us don’t get enough physical contact on a daily basis to thrive and reduce our stressors.

7. Increase Your Social Activity. By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Find something you love doing! Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way!

8. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help another Person. Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return. Support your community or start building a community. We are so much greater, if we do “life” together! It will also bring you gratitude, which reduces stress (see #2)

9. Interrupt your ruminating negative thoughts. If you find yourself ruminating, a great way to stop it, is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Rumination is like hyper-focus on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry and stress. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music. All these things are a great way to reduce stress.

10. Keep a stress journal. If you can’t identify the triggers that causes you great stress or some kind of negative physical reactions, keep a stress journal. Write down how your day went, what was going on, whom did you meet and who said what. Associate certain feelings with these events and notice how your body reacts. This will give you great insight into what might be causing your stress.

It’s important to understand the signs of stress and react with a positive way of handling it such as these 10 tips. The key to busting stress is making sure that you look after YOU. As your happiness levels increase, your stress levels decrease. Have a look at your work life, your personal life and social life to see if there are any areas you can create more happiness. You might be surprised on what you find.

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