It’s easy to see the many ways in which modern life can be perceived as stressful. We’re told to stress less! But we’re also surrounded by constant stimulation and pressure via social media, traffic, work deadlines, and more.
But what is stress? Stress evolved from our caveman days. We had to be on alert for predators and ready to fight for survival. In today’s modern jungle, we no longer fight sabre toothed tigers (thankfully!) But we do still react on a physical level to perceived dangers and threats.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s annual stress survey, the most common causes of stress are employment and finances.
Do you know what causes you to experience stress? Do you know how stress manifests itself in your body and mind? These are some fundamental questions to ask to better understand yourself. And then, you can hop on the road to stressing less and having a more joyful life!
Ready to see stress from a new perspective? Here are some hacks to help you combat stress and create a more peaceful mind and body.
Understand What Stress Really Is
We know that stress is a physical and mental reaction to perceived danger. But stress is not a given. It’s not an unavoidable result of specific situations or experiences.
Stress arises from our perception of what is dangerous or threatening. But what if this perception could be changed? What if we had better control of our thoughts?
Would you categorize any of these situations as stressful?
It might appear obvious that it would be stressful to be unemployed, but many people complain about their stressful jobs. There is potential for feeling stress in any situation! But is stress truly intrinsic to these situations? Or does stress originate from within ourselves?
The Indian sage Sadguru has a wonderful viewpoint on stress and stress management. He says that stress is felt when we don’t know how to manage the mind and emotions. It is the natural outcome of unconscious living. If we learn to manage our system, we can live free from stress.
Clear Clutter and Stress Less
Lots of physical clutter leaves no space for the mind. It steals time and creativity. Clutter makes it a challenge to maintain a stress-free mindset.
By clearing up clutter and organizing our space we create an environment conducive to peace and calm.
Take your time. Choose a problem area or surface to focus on. You’re welcome to use my declutter guide or read my many blogs on decluttering. They’ll help you get started and stay focused until you’ve reached your goal.
Read books that inspire and lead to personal growth
What we put into our mind matters! Quality books on self development, mindfulness and similar topics can inspire us and teach valuable life lessons. It becomes easier to make healthy choices in life. We learn to understand ourselves and why we react to certain situations. Amazing personal goals can be reached if we focus on developing the inner self.
Interested in a selection of mindful and self-help books to get started? Try this list of 12 of my favorite audiobooks or these 5 books that will inspire mindful living.
Be mindful about social media usage
At its best, social media helps us keep track of friends and family, even from a distance. It strengthens our relationships and communication skills. It can be a wonderful way to stay in touch.
But the concurrent reality is that social media can cause damage to our mental health. It can eat into valuable time with family or doing meaningful things.
Look into healthy ways to use social media. I’ve written a helpful guide about that here. You can also consider a digital detox (read my blog on that here).
You might decide it’s time to declutter your digital life. This will have a similar effect to the de-stressing relief of removing physical clutter.
Make physical health a priority
I consider health to be the foundation of my life. If I don’t eat right or stay inactive for too long, other areas of my life will sooner or later fall apart. When I’m healthy, I have the energy to be there for my family and perform well at work. My mindset stays elevated and I’m able to attend to other things and people in my life.
Eat well – whatever that means for you and your personal health. I’ve chosen to adopt a plant-based diet which has made an incredible difference in my health. I feel full of energy and so capable of managing my day to day challenges.
Eating healthily is an opportunity to practice mindfulness – a valuable skill to learn if you want to stress less. Here are some helpful tips for practicing mindful eating.
I’ve never enjoyed taking part in formal workout classes. Instead of being part of a gym, I’ve developed my own minimalist approach to fitness. (Read more about that here.)
Exercise has proven stress-relieving effects. Feeling physically stronger and energized also helps to clear the mind and simply allows us to feel good. When we feel good, we’re more able to make decisions and choices that are clear-minded.
When the body is healthy and strong, we can move away from simply managing stress. We can start to feel more capable of facing the causes of stress head on.
Journally is a form of self-reflection and provides an outlet to our thoughts. Whether thoughts are positive or negative, seeing them on paper can provide perspective.
Allow your thoughts to flow freely onto paper without judgement or criticism. Simply release yourself from expectation and give yourself the gift of expression.
Sometimes this creative outlet can be enough to dissolve stress. Either way, journaling can be extremely helpful in uncovering hidden thoughts and feelings causing stress. As memories or emotions arise, they are able to be dealt with and put to rest so we can move on and be free.
Spend time in nature
Nature is an incredible source of inspiration. Spending time in the great outdoors also has many physical health benefits.
I see nature as a source of self-care. We can experience a feeling of space, be surrounded by beauty, and breathe air full of oxygen. Nature nurtures and calms the spirit, frees the mind of constraints.
Let go of stressful feelings as you walk along the beach or on a wooded path. Be rejuvenated by the steady heartbeat of the earth.
Practice Mindfulness to Combat Stress
One of the most valuable skills that’ll help you stress less is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you stay calm and focused. It reduces anxiety. It helps you become more self-aware – an important factor in positive self development.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness – meditation being a popular tool. If you’re not keen on meditating, I’ve written about 9 simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day. This includes things like paying attention to your emotions, practicing a hobby, starting a morning routine, and more.
Mindfulness helps bring your attention back to focusing on the here and now. It fosters awareness of your feelings, thoughts and senses. We start becoming more aware of what our bodies are experiencing and which emotions we’re nurturing.
This helps us to identify stressors and understand our response to ‘threatening’ situations. Once we become aware of our responses, we can start choosing healthier ways of coping.
Cultivate a simple lifestyle
Choosing a simple life can have a hugely positive impact on your mood and general mental state. If you’re looking for a way to stress less, developing a simpler life could be just the thing for you.
Simple living is all about appreciating the small things, finding happiness in experiences and not things. You could simplify your possessions, your daily routine, your digital life, your finances, your shopping habits.
It’s about paring things down until you have everything you need without extraneous clutter and disorder. A simple life is one where there is time to explore, to discover, to experience, to feel.
What better way to stress less than to consciously and intentionally create a life that is simple, meaningful and happy!
A life where you honor yourself and have time for truly important and worthwhile things.
A happy life where you know and understand yourself. Where you hold the tools that enable you to choose joy and release stress.
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