Have you ever wondered why after a stressful experience - like getting into a fight with your spouse or hearing that your office is announce massive layoffs, you have a physical reaction like a headache or stomach pain? According to the Huffington Post, this is because “the majority of stressors facing humans were physical (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!), requiring, in turn, a physical response.”
Being stressed isn’t a fun experience. On top of the physical symptoms, stress can lead to insomnia, depression and a decrease in work production, with serious implications for your personal and professional life.
Being entrepreneurs, we get stressed all the time. I get stressed at everything from traffic on the way to work to my current hosting startup on the brink of disaster! Believe me, this is something we all have to deal with from time to time. To avoid letting stress consume your life, here are 11 tips that I use to kick stress to the curb.
1. Identify triggers.
Melissa Eisler states on the Chopra Center website that “Recognizing the triggers to your stressful reactions is an important first step in managing your stress.” She suggests you can discover these triggers by asking obvious questions like “What stresses you out? And how do you react to it?”
After figuring out what exactly is working you up, you can create a list of your top triggers and then work on eliminating them if possible, or at least changing your reactions.
2. Be healthy.
It’s been proven time and time again that one of the best ways to relieve stress is by being healthy. Whether it’s going for a walk, taking a yoga class, staying away from treats like doughnuts and getting a good night’s rest, taking care of your body is one of the most common and effective ways to reduce stress in your life.
I find that when I'm healthiest in my life, I have the least amount of stress.
3. Get organized.
Whether it’s in the home or at the workplace, disorganization is one of the most common stress triggers. After all, it’s frustrating when you can never find that one thing you’re looking for. That’s why you should not only straighten up your home or office, but develop a system to keep it organized. Woman’s Day has 100 Organizing Tips that you should check out.
4. Stop procrastinating.
The Association for Psychological Science states that “people who procrastinate have higher levels of stress and lower well-being.” To help you get out of this harmful trip, Leo Babauta suggests you create a Do It Now (DIFN) habit. Do your most important task first or only work on a challenging project for 10-minutes.
5. Turn off your phone.
Richard Balding, a psychologist in the department of psychology at the University of Worcester, England discovered that smartphones can lead to stress. Why? Because they have created “a relentless need to immediately review and respond to each and every incoming message, alert, or bing.”
While you can’t keep the phone off 24/7, you should have certain times planned throughout the day to keep the phone off for a little piece of mind.
6. Do something that makes you happy.
Between all of your obligations and responsibilities, you may think you no longer have time for the hobbies that used to make you happy. To reduce the stress in your life, make the time to do something pleasurable. It could be something as simple as enjoying your favorite show, taking a nap, going to the movies, talking to a friend, listening to your favorite music, or planning a vacation to your favorite destination.
7. Stop filling up the calendar.
Commitments never end. Between work, your family, social activities and civic duties, you have a full schedule. This becomes a problem when commitments conflict with each other or begin to overrun your life.
If you edit your list of commitments, you will likely notice you suddenly do have some much needed free time, which will help destress your life. We all have the same 24 hours in each day - what are you filling your hours with?
8. Accept people for who they are.
Is there anything more frustrating than a coworker who chews with their mouth open or the spouse who never washes dishes or the neighbor who blasts their music too loudly? No matter how much the people closest in your life add to your stress level, you have to accept them for who they are.
Daylle Deanna Schwartz, recommends on the Huffington Post that you use Reality Training, which “means recognizing that if you want to be happy, you need to accept people as they are and find ways to deal with how they are, or don't.”
9. Be grateful.
Research from renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough discovered “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, and lower levels of depression and stress.”
Mark Williams and Danny Penman authors of "Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World,” suggested on CNN that you perform a 10-finger gratitude exercise everyday. This simply means thinking of 10 things you’re grateful for.
10. Avoid multitasking.
We’re all extremely busy, which is why multitasking seems like a great idea on paper, but actually only adds to our already stressful lives. According to David Meyer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan (via Chris Woolston, MS on HealthDay) “ juggling tasks can be very stressful. In the short-term, stress makes you feel lousy. In the long-term, it can become a serious threat to health.”
If you need assistance with avoiding multitasking, check out these tips from Zen Habits.
11. Pucker up.
WebMD cites a study led by Laura Berman, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and ob-gyn at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, which studied 2,000 couples. The study discovered that couples who only kiss during lovemaking are “eight times more likely to report suffering from stress and depression than those who frequently kiss on the spur of the moment.”
Dr. Berman states: "Kissing relieves stress by creating a sense of connectedness, which releases endorphins, the chemicals that counteract stress and depression."
Besides making you happier, lowering your stress level has proven medical benefits. So, grab your favorite book, pucker up, be grateful for what you have, and stop over scheduling yourself. Taking just a few of these steps will lead to a happier, healthier you.