Congratulations on taking an action step to create positive change in your life.
My hope is that you will find my complimentary report helpful, inspiring, and maybe even fun!
You may be aware that stress has been found to contribute to many health problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and sleep disorders. Recent discoveries in psychoneuroimmunology (the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body) show that stress and other emotional factors are much more closely linked to many more health issues than was previously accepted by the mainstream medical establishment.
Stress also clearly affects our mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Taking responsibility for reducing your stress will help you feel as though you have some control over these aspects of your life. This in itself stress-reducing.
The following report lists some helpful suggestions for ways that can reduce the build-up of stress and tension in your life. These are all things that I’ve used in my own life--and also seen my clients use, to great benefit.The best way to use this list is to find two or three ideas that you resonate with—either because they’ve worked for you in the past, or you’ve always wanted to try that idea, OR because you’ve never thought of it and you’re intrigued—and try those ideas at least three or four times over a period of a couple of weeks to see if they make a difference for you.
You may want to take notes in a journal or at least be mindful of the state you are in before you start the activity and the state you are in when you finish.
If you notice you are calmer, feeling more positive, and more relaxed after doing the activity, then this is something that works to reduce stress for you!
If you find that these practices bring up unresolved feelings or you have difficulty relaxing, please consider contacting myself or another counselling professional for help.
For more information or support in implementing the practices below, or for information about my counselling and coaching services, contact me at 1 888 504 4111 or , or go to my website at www.inessencecounselling.com
To your wellbeing,
18 Ways to Reduce Stress And Be Happier in Your life
1. Get out into nature! There is nothing like being in a garden, by a body of water or in the trees to help calm us down, relax us, and give us more access to the bigger picture of life. According to Dr. Kathleen Hall, “Over 70% of people report they have significantly decreased symptoms of depression when they’re out in nature and 88% of people say that their moods change immediately just after they begin a walk.” It’s easy—and it’s free!
2. Join a yoga, tai chi, or chi qong class, or get an instructional video about one of these forms so that you can do it in the privacy of your own home. Slow movement meditations such as these help us get back into our bodies, get in touch with our breath, and slow down—thus reducing the levels of nervous arousal that happen in response to life’s stressors.
3. Exercise is a GREAT way to reduce stress! We’ve probably all heard it a million times—but it’s true! Even going for a good 20-30 minute walk three times a week will make a difference—plus, it gets you out into the world and can give you fresh perspective on whatever is occupying your mind or causing stress in your life. Walking is a balanced activity that uses both sides of the brain (what scientists call “bilateral stimulation) which helps us integrate new information and balances the brain. For those who are naturally more active, do something that makes you sweat and gets your heart pumping—at least 3 times a week.4. Dance. Close your curtains if you have to, put on your favourite music, and give yourself 20 minutes to dance through whatever is bothering you. Use dance as a way to get in touch with your body—let it move in the ways it wants to. Let your body give you information and let it say what it needs to say through movement. Dance can also be a powerful way to get inspired and to feel more connected to the bigger picture. If you need some good music to dance to, I’m happy to send you some recommendations. And—dance is also exercise--so you get bonus points for this activity!
5. Cultivate good friendships. This one is especially important for women, who “tend and befriend” naturally when under stress. Often when we’re busy, the first thing to fall away is social contact with friends. This is unfortunate, because connecting with other people helps increase the production of oxytocin, a hormone which calms us down and relaxes us. As an added bonus, many studies have shown that strong social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
6. Meditate twice a day—when you first get up and just before bed—even if it’s just for 5 minutes each time! There are different kinds of meditation, and many of them are helpful for relaxation and bringing us into the present moment. As well, using your focus and will in this way helps build the capacity to be disciplined, which comes in handy for calming yourself down in a crisis! One way to learn a meditation technique is to contact your local yoga or meditation centre.
7. Create. Write a story, knit, paint, draw, do woodwork, sing, make crafts, take photographs, carve…anything that moves your creative energy and brings something new into the world. Block off a two hour chunk of time and lose yourself in it. Get together with other folks who are doing the same thing—join a group, or create a group. Take a class. Important tip: leave your inner critic at the door and give yourself permission to just “play” with whatever art form you’ve chosen.8. Hug someone! If you have willing partner, family member, or friend, ask for their permission and have a real, honest-to-goodness heart hug. Make sure both people are comfortable and have full upper
body contact (this is clearly a non-sexual hug.) Hug until relaxed—this will be longer than the average hug.
9. Question your thinking. There are several forms of what is sometimes called “inquiry” that you can use to question what you are believing—what is causing you stress—and find out whether it is actually true or not. For example, go to http://thework.com/thework.asp and learn about how to question your thoughts using The Work. Remember—don’t believe everything you think!
10. Get some body work—massage, chiropractic, acupressure, acupuncture—all of these forms of body based therapies can be very helpful in reducing stress. If finances are an issue, check out your local massage therapy or Chinese medicine schools—they usually have a student clinic, supervised by qualified staff, for a greatly reduced rate. Hint: book your appointment at a time when you can spend at least an hour, preferably more, taking things slowly afterwards. This lets the relaxation and healing actually sink in and integrate into your body.
11. Be aware of the noise in your space and add some soothing sound. The sound of running water in a small indoor water fountain is calming for most people. Or, put on some music. Not just any music though—research has shown that smooth jazz, classical, or other kinds of mellow music are the types that reduce both perceived stress and also the internal chemistry of stress within the body. Harsh sounds, or unpleasant white noise, have the opposite effect.
12. Hang out with animals. Touch them. Play with a cat or a dog—their friskiness will make you laugh and remind you of the importance of play. Volunteer at the local SPCA and walk the dogs or groom the cats. "Pet therapy" is often used in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, and schools to reduce loneliness, anger, depression, and stress. Even watching fish in a tank has been shown to lower blood pressure!
13. Do something new! Get out of the house, go and do something or see something you’ve always wanted to. Check your local newspaper to find out what is going on—surprise your spouse, friend, or family member with something unusual to do together. Go to a play, a new restaurant, or a local tourist attraction. Join a naturalist on a nature walk. Be spontaneous.
14. Have an orgasm! Partnered or not, sex with someone you care about (including yourself) is a life-enhancing activity that will shift your energy and help you relax.
15. Watch a funny movie or see a stand-up comedian. Go to YouTube and watch clips from comedians or funny commercials. (Just don’t get lost in the internet world, or it could turn into a draining experience—give yourself a time limit!)
16. Read something inspiring that connects you to your own sense of meaning, spirit, and the bigger picture of your life. For example, you can read an excerpt from a book by Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Roth, Gary Zukav, or Dr. Wayne Dyer, or any other inspirational writer. Or, for those who like poetry, reflect on the beautiful poems of Rumi, Hafiz, or Mary Oliver.
17. Try EFT. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique—a simple tapping sequence that works on the meridians of your body to help reduce the impact of stressful or difficult feelings. Again, YouTube is an excellent resource for this. You can see the founder, Gary Craig, in action or you can watch some easy how-to videos from other practitioners. You can also download the basic methods for free at www.emofree.com.
18. Talk to someone. When something is bothering you or you are confused, stressed, or frustrated, it can be helpful to talk to someone who has good empathic skills and is trained and skilled as a listener. You can find counselling services by asking at hospitals, medical clinics, mental health agencies, the local library, the local college or university, churches, and crisis centres, or by searching online.
About the Author
Tamara Mortimer, M. Ed, RCC,
I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor in private practice in Victoria, BC and I work with both individuals and couples, either on the phone or in person.
I have spent the last 25 years studying and working with both children and adults in various settings, including schools, camps, leadership seminars, university, and community agencies. I love working with people who are looking for ways to reduce their stress and find deeper happiness, peace, and purpose in their lives and their relationships.
My formal studies in both education and counselling and my deep interest in the subject of healing have led me down many roads of learning about personal and relationship wellness.
This learning has deeply affected my own life, both personally and professionally. The healing journey I continue to pursue has helped me find a deeper peace and happiness within myself and in the world.
I am grateful for the continued opportunities to learn from life, and for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others if and when it is helpful.
I love connecting with and supporting my clients in their healing and growth, and I count being able to witness profound change in others as one of the major blessings of my life.
I have an M. Ed in Counselling from the University of Victoria, and am a Registered Clinical Counsellor and a Canadian Certified Counsellor. I also have ongoing interest, experience, and training in:
- Gottman Marital Therapy
- The Couples Institute--with Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson
- The Work with Byron Katie—Attended the School for the Work October 2007
- Gordon Neufeld’s methods: Working with Stuck Kids; Making Sense of Adolescence
- Various meditation and mindfulness techniques
For more information about my counselling and coaching practice, or for a free 20 minute consultation, please call me at 1 888 504 4111, email firstname.lastname@example.org.