Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

How to Reduce Stress

The main causes of stress are work, school, family, money, and health. This is pretty much everything that is important in life, so they are not going to magically go away thus leaving us stress free.

All to often, I see people around me looking for short term solutions to stress, such as taking “must needed” vacations, and then they go right back to their hectic and stressful schedule immediately afterwards. I equate this with yo-yo dieting that does not work in the long term. Handling stress must be a lifestyle change that minimizes everyday stress. Furthermore, don't wait until you are stressed out before doing something.

So why is it that most of the people that I know only wait until they are completely stressed out before doing something? I think that most people are continuously stressed out to different degrees, and people either accept it as a normal part of life or people just get accustomed to it. Eventually this stress accumulates until it is overwhelming, and only then do people actively take time to unwind from our stressful lives.

The reasons for stress are with us each and every day of our lives, so our stress relieving solutions should be too. So, here are some recommended suggestions to help us relieve stress that should be done periodically even if you do not think it is necessary.
  • First, each day take some time for yourself. I know this may seem impossible with a busy schedule, but the problem is a continuously busy schedule. Learn how to do less if your schedule is packed each and every day. If you collapse exhausted in bed each and every day, then this suggestion is for you.

    I personally try to take an hour before going to bed to decompress. I either watch a relaxing television show (not one of those attention getting drama shows), solve a crossword puzzle, or play computer games.

  • Second, at the end of the day in bed or when you are brushing your teeth, consciously think how you felt throughout the day and why. Think what you will do differently next time, and not what you should have done differently.
  • Third, at least once a week, meet up with your friends and laugh a bit. I find that relaxing with friends over a long lunch reduces stress considerably. And laughing is a quick and easy way to relax and reduce stress immediately. I think we all need to laugh more in our daily lives.
  • Fourth, when you find yourself stressed out, stop and take a few slow deep breaths. This will help you relax and put things into perspective. You should notice that you will then be able to think about whatever caused you so much stress with less stress.

  • Fifth and most hardest, is take periodic and regular time off from your most stressful activity. If it is your work, take off work early and go walking or to go to a park for an hour or so. We never realize how much we are really stressed out, until we break out of our regular schedule and do something relaxing. Even if you love your work or family, slightly varying your routine with something relaxing will greatly reduce stress.
  • Sixth, sleep. It is estimated that a typical adult needs an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, a lot of us function with a lot less hours of sleep, yet this is one of the fundamental foundations of stress. Getting not enough sleep, makes people much more stressed out even for the most trivial activities. So, take a nap and sleep more.
  • Seventh, exercise. Exercise has proven to help both the body and mind relax, yet few of us exercise. I am definitely guilty of this because I do not make enough time to exercise, so who am I to say how exercise helps handling stress? Try it and let me know.
  • Finally, your diet can affect stress. A healthy diet allows the body and mind to cope with stress better. Additionally, decreasing stimulants, such as caffeine and sugar, has been proven reduce stress too. So when we are stressed out, avoid junk food and eat healthy foods. The foods that we were taught are “comfort foods” are actually quite the opposite.

I do not seriously expect anyone to rigorously follow all 8 suggestions of handling and reducing stress. Heck, I do not expect anyone to even follow a few of them each day, but knowing what to do relief stress is a good first start. At least try to start including some of these activities in your routine, and you should notice that your physical and mental health improves.

by Phil for Humanity
on 04/29/2007

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