Stress Less, Smile More: Five Ways You Can Change How Stress Impacts Your Life

Stress is a word that follows most of us around daily.  Take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to.  Life gives us stressful situations but it doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle. There are easy ways to not necessarily eliminate the stress in our lives but ways to make it easier for us to deal with.

Below are five simple additions that you can incorporate into your life that will not only help with eliminating the amount of stress you allow yourself to feel, but, they’ll also improve your mental and physical well being.

Get Fresh Air in the Morning

Instead of waiting until the very last minute to get out of bed in the morning, set your alarm for an hour earlier.  Get dressed and go outside.  Go for a run, take a walk, or just sit outside on your porch and watch the sunrise.  You’ll have a sharper mind and more energy.  Take advantage of being able to listen to nature without the sounds of a busy world.  Never underestimate what a little fresh air in the morning can do for your mind and your body.

Exercise

The benefits to exercising are endless and there are NO excuses.  Have a desk job?  Go for a 20-30 minute walk on your lunch.  Can’t miss your TV show?  Add squats, lunges, and an ab routine in while you watch.  Do a plank when you wake up and before you go to bed.  Make time in your schedule to go to hit the gym.  Find a friend and hold each other accountable.  Get a FitBit and challenge friends.   Start your day off with exercise and not only will you boost your metabolism, but you’ll have a great start to your day.  Generally speaking, exercise will increase your confidence and improve your physical and mental health.  It’s also always a great outlet for releasing any added stress!

Do you exercise but are bored with your regular routine?  Switch it up.  Sign up for a 5K or a longer distance race.  Set small goals for yourself on increasing how much you can lift.  Start swimming or biking. The options are endless.

Meditation

Whether it’s because you take on a lot at once, or, it’s because of something beyond your control, we all have times where we are overloaded with stress.  But, you can control how it effects your body, your mind, and your attitude.  One solution is to meditate.

Set aside at least 10 minutes every day for meditation.  Go to a quiet place, your room, at a park, on the beach, etc, and take that time to shut out all of your problems.  To let your mind escape from all of the stress.  Just breathe.  If you’ve never meditated before, there are great videos on YouTube for guided meditation, apps for your phone, or jump into your local yoga class.

Listen to your mind and your body and pay attention to how you feel.  Discover where the root of your problems are.  Tell yourself you can do better and you will achieve your goals.  Remind yourself that whatever the cause of your stress is, doesn’t have to bother you.  

** If you have anxiety, meditation is a great tool to overcoming and preventing panic attacks.

Distance Yourself from Technology

Today, we are so inclined to check our text messages, our Facebook, or Twitter, that as soon as we get a notification it causes unneeded stress.  Put your phone on silent and turn it over for a while.  Enjoy your time with your family, friends, and focus on your work.  Unfortunately, an expectation today is that if you text someone they should text you back right away.  We need to put an end to that.  If I don’t answer for an hour, it’s probably because I’m busy or I didn’t see the message, it’s not necessary to send “?” after only forty minutes.  I’m not ignoring you, I’m just enjoying life without my phone and paying attention to what’s around me, which is what we should all be doing.

It’s sad that we’ve reached the point where we find ourselves apologizing for enjoying our life or spending time with our family.  Put down your phone and enjoy the day!

Read

Pick up a book and read a few chapters, every day.  Whether you want to read a fiction novel for entertainment, or a nonfiction book to learn, you are stimulating your mind.  As a fiction author myself, I try to read a few non-fiction books each year.  Two of my favorites are ‘No Easy Day’ by Mark Owen and ‘You Can You Will’ by Joel Osteen.  Different genres, but both extremely educational. Fiction novels are fun because you can escape from the real world and it challenges your mind to think beyond what it knows.  You start to explore and envision characters, places, and/or things.  Stimulation of the mind is important and has many health benefits from improved memory, to focus and concentration, and decreasing stress.

Changing up your routine can be challenging. So start off small.  The first day, wake up a half hour earlier, leave your phone on the charger, pick up a book, and read outside.  At night, take a walk and meditate before bed.  Include these in your daily routine and before you know it you’ll be on your way to an even more successful, less stressful, and happy life!

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