15 Productive Ways to Reduce Stress – Wisebread 2014

By Mikey Rox

There’s no way to avoid stress altogether — unless you know something we don’t know — but there are plenty of positive ways you can reduce it before it gets out of hand. Let’s look at 15.

1. Take Your Business to the Golf Course

Mixing a little business with pleasure on the links is a great way to relieve stress, says Tony Gomes, president of a financial services company that helps manage wealth.

“My job can be stressful at times, like many people’s, but I find one of the most productive ways to reduce stress is to go on a business golf outing,” he says. “It is well known that a lot of business gets done on the golf course, but also, golf is seen as a very relaxing way to spend time. People may think that there are some emotional peaks and valleys that enter when playing a round of golf, but if you are out there for other purposes (business, exercise, etc.), then it can be one of the more relaxing activities.”

2. Get Your ‘Om’ On With Meditation

Barb Schmidt is the author of The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace and Uncovering Happiness, and she counts meditation among her top stress-relieving tactics.

“Starting your day in stillness and peace is setting the tone for your whole day,” she says. “In a 5-minute meditation, you are training your mind by placing your attention on your breath, practicing being patient, and spending time with yourself, connecting with that deep place of calmness and strength. This time in the morning grounds you as you go into your day with the knowing you are carrying this peace with you.”

If you’re not necessarily into that holistic way of thinking, perhaps you’re keen to know that there’s scientific evidence that meditation is ideal for stress management.

3. Plan Your Tomorrow Today

You can eliminate a decent amount of stress by thinking ahead, according to Dr. Joshua Jacobi, a board certified cardiologist.

“Plan out the day in advance the night before,” he suggests. “I like to think of the analogy of driving in a car. If my day is planned out, then I know where I am going. If my day is not planned out in advance, then I feel like I am lost driving around in my car. Being lost stresses me out.”

Put this advice to use right now. Pick out your outfit, make your lunch, and make a to-do list for tomorrow. Your stress level is almost guaranteed to go down at least a little.

4. Sweat It Out the Old Fashioned Way

Feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious? Send those stress symptoms packing by getting that body in motion.

There are a number of benefits to working out, like increased production of endorphins (neurotransmitters that give you the feel-goods), letting your mind concentrate on something else besides your burdens, and better sleep. Have you ever noticed how upbeat your fitness-minded friends are? They’re in on the secret, and you should be too.

5. Add More Yoga to Your Routine

Like meditation, yoga is beneficial when you’re dealing with stress. You’re able to concentrate on a positive activity while practicing yoga instead of harping on the negatives in your life.

“The benefits of yoga include decreased stress and tension, increased strength and balance, increased flexibility, lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol levels,” said Beth Shaw, Founder/President of Yogafit Training Systems.

So grab your mat, practice your Downward Dog, and let that stress slip away.

6. Put Your Problems on Paper

As a writer, I can tell you that putting my thoughts down on paper is a cathartic experience when I’m under a lot of stress. Have you heard that piece of advice that when you’re mad at something, particularly a person, you should write them a letter and then burn it afterward? It’s not a bad suggestion, because in most cases you’ll calm down during the writing process and you’ll get your issues out so you can handle them in a more positive way.

Life mastery coach Jason Treu agrees.

“Write a letter forgiving someone else,” he says. “You never have to deliver it. Bottling up anger and resentment causes high levels of stress. Forgiveness doesn’t take two parties — just one. You write the letter, then stand in front of a mirror and read it. It’s pretty amazing at what happens.”

7. Look Into the Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture dates back many millennia — like way back to the BCE — so there’s reason to believe that it’s an effective treatment for stress relief.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology demonstrated that acupuncture blocks the chronic effects of stress, according to Nicole Murray, a licensed acupuncturist.

“First, acupuncture regulates the sympathetic nervous system ‘fight or flight’ response. Second, acupuncture regulates the hormones that affect the body’s reaction to stress, mood and emotions,” she explains. “In our clinic, Beach Community Acupuncture in San Diego, stress is the primary reason many of our patients seek treatment. Stress also contributes to other, more serious health conditions. Patients overwhelmingly report stress relief and relaxation after receiving acupuncture. Even better, there are more and more community acupuncture clinics popping up around the country to make these treatments more affordable.”

8. Eliminate the Unnecessary

A feeling of peace washes over me when I cut something out of my life that was causing me stress. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before, too. It’s a practice we should do a bit more often perhaps.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Anita Marchesani says that all of her clients arrive stressed out — and she’s ready to help them overcome it.

“The first thing we do is figure out what needs to go from their lives or businesses,” she explains. “This means saying ‘no’ or ‘not right now’ to certain demands that do not align with their primary objectives, no matter what they are. Good, solid, and consistent boundaries are a foundational stress management tool. It increases focus, and therefore increases productivity. People get results when they do this… although no one ‘likes’ to do this.”

9. Express Your Feelings More Freely

I’ve never been known to mince words, so I totally agree with Dr. Fran Walfish — psychotherapist and expert panelist on the upcoming WE TV show “Sex Box” — when she advocates for saying exactly what’s on your mind as a way to relieve stress.

“Express your feelings in the moment,” she encourages. “Do not allow anger and disappointment to build up inside you. Say what you feel clearly and respectfully. It will free you.”

Bottling those feelings up will only drag you down in the long run. Let it out.


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