Are you feeling worried or stressed? Wondering how to avoid family conflicts? Feeling hopeless about managing your finances? Feeling overwhelmed, tired or fatigued? Looking for a way out? It’s the time of year when most of us are experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety and worry. Here are 30 safe and quick tips that have shown to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety any time of the year.
Stress and the Holidays
Holidays can be particularly stressful. After Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, we might begin questioning our mental, emotional and physical survival of the remaining four or five weeks. Studies show that suicide and depression is considerable higher during the holiday season. Holiday shopping can be exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.
During the holiday season most of us are stressing over our inability to meet expectations and some are desperately creating plans and strategies to help navigate through this challenging time. These people might be wondering:
- How to manage to pay all the bills at the end of this month with only $12.95 left in the checking account
- How to avoid being cornered by Aunt Betty, who deviously is scheming, asking, “When are you getting married?”
- How to lose 5 pounds in two weeks to look better than a good-looking and very competitive family member
- How to convince a boyfriend to spend time with me and not choose to hang out with his goofy guy pals at a Hawaiian Luau.
- How to temporarily escape from this world, using cyber technology, beer, cookies, and Netflix movies
What are Indirect and Direct Stress?
Stress can happen any time of year in any situation. Yet sometimes stress can be an important signal to a life-threatening situation.
Stress can occur at any time in our lives when there are major changes. This stress can occur directly or indirectly. Most often stress happens as a direct result of a life changing situation. Our boss fires us and we feel stress. Sometimes we feel stress indirectly because of the hardships that are experienced by a family member, cherished pet, close friend, or loved one. Another being is suffering and we feel stressed out of compassion and/or empathy.
What Causes Stress?
Some of the most common life-changing situations that trigger stress are:
- Unexpected decrease in income, or getting fired or laid off
- Serious health condition, illness, or death of a loved one
- Relationship difficulties or break up
- Increased demands on time
- Job change, or change in work or school schedule
- Moving to a new home, or having others move into your home (temporarily or permanently)
Sometimes stress can be caused by being around people who are chronically stressed, anxious or depressed. Studies show that children who are raised by adult parents with generalized anxiety disorder, tend to exhibit stress.Spending time with people who have the following characteristics can create stress and anxiety in us and in others:
- Chronic worrying
- Pessimistic views
- Negative self-talk
- Unrealistic expectations, criticism and perfectionism
- Lack of flexibility and rigidity
- Hyperactive behaviors or inabilities to focus and complete tasks
- Ungrateful or unable to appreciate others
- Gossiping or degrading themselves or others
- Power-hungry or a “my way or the highway” attitude
- Raging or explosive behaviors
- Evasive, irresponsible and unreliable
- Manipulative and passive aggressive
- Unavailable, uncaring, and robotic or distant
30 Effective Quick Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Fortunately, there are many tips and techniques for reducing stress that are much healthier and more successful than overeating, over medicating, and/or escaping into an alternate reality to avoid outer conflicts. Much research has shown that stress has a powerful effect on the endocrine and central nervous systems and the interactions between these systems and suppressing the ability to fight off disease. Studies have shown complimentary and alternative medicine to have been successful in relieving stress. Here are several tips and techniques that have been known to be effective.
- Breathe deeply several times a day. A few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing , followed by extended exhalation, relaxes the body, lifts the mood and increases energy. Pranayama, or prana, is a yoga practice made up of many different types of breathing techniques. These techniques vary from simple to very complex.
- Use a journal. Keep it next to your bed and write down your thoughts. Read and re-read your entries and write down any insights or goals.
- Close your eyes and imagine peace and contentment for 10 or more minutes upon rising in the morning before starting the day and 5-10 minutes or more before falling asleep
- Be present. Notice what is happening right now in your body, mind, and emotions. Let go of expectations and focus on the blessing of now.
- Listen to relaxing music several times a day. Upload or record music and keep it with you in your car, home or at work. Create a playlist of songs that are your favorite mood boosters and bring it with you. When you find yourself stressing, walk away from the situation and relax into the music.
- Go for a walk in nature and listen to the natural, soothing sounds. Let go of all anxieties and stress.
- Planting outside is a great stress reducer, whether planting flowers, weeding, or harvesting vegetables. Work with the soil and feel grounded and connected to the earth. Imagine burying your problems in the soil.
- Let go of stressful situations, by writing them on small pieces of paper. Put them in a pot or fireplace and burn or destroy them.
- Pray or meditate in a way that is comfortable for you. Focus on beauty, peace, and joy. Studies show that those who regularly practice daily spiritual disciplines are less stressed than those who do not
- Write affirmations every day that are uplifting and empowering such as “I am capable, strong and relaxed.”
- Sing in the shower, bathtub, or car. Belt out your favorite “happy tunes.”
- Snuggle with Pets. Petting or holding a domestic animal such as a cat, dog, or rabbit, has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and promote health and healing. Spend time with a pet or furry friend that gives you unconditional love.
- Exercise regularly. Work with your doctor, trainer, or physical therapist to design an exercise program that is best for you. If you just need a good stretch, try shoulder shrugs, take the dog for a walk, or take up swimming, tennis or dancing. Choose the physical activity that works for you.
- Make a “to do” list and tackle one item every day. If the list is too difficult, break each item down into simple steps, and take one step at a time
- Downsize expectations. Let go of goals that are too difficult or impossible
- Rest. If you are feeling fatigued, try taking a brief nap, each day or rest your eyes briefly
- Focus. Before calling friends or family members to discuss holiday plans (or to cancel plans), take time to focus on love and gratitude. Then communicate with a loving, forgiving heart.
- Eat well. Take the time to prepare healthy, organic foods, and avoid processed foods
- Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water every day. Keep a water bottle with you, so that you don’t forget to keep hydrated. Dehydration can be a major cause of depression, stress and fatigue
- Laugh out loud for one minute, even if you are feeling, angry, depressed or worried. A good belly laugh boosts brain endorphins
- Motivate yourself. Attend motivational talks and lectures. Upload free talks or videos or watch live streaming workshops and classes. Choose motivational talks that uplift, inspire and stir you into positive action to help you push past blocks and eliminate stress in your life.
- Be grateful. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down a blessing you experienced that day.
- Give help or support to friends, family or strangers. The act of giving is sometimes the most powerful technique to eliminating feelings of hopelessness or victimization. See our 60 Random Acts of Kindness for ideas
- Release tension. Tighten and release tension in every body part in the body systematically. Begin with the forehead and work downward to the toes. Contract the muscle for a count of 10, inhaling, and then release for a count of 10, exhaling. Imagine letting go of all worry and stress.
- Talk to a friend, life coach or counseling to discuss your problems or concerns. Talking out stress is sometimes a powerful means of releasing anxiety.
- Essential oils or aromatherapy can be effective. Experiment responsibly (being careful to avoid allergy triggers). Sometimes particular fragrances can be very effective in bringing about relaxation and reducing stress. See our article on essential oils.
- Tai Chi, Qigong, or Yoga techniques can be helpful with decreasing stress. Visit our online video playlist or read our articles to get more information. Join a community class or participate online.
- Massage has shown to be very effective in reducing stress. Schedule a massage by a certified massage therapist. Some therapists offer free limited sessions or sessions at a reduced price for new customers. Some prefer to work with a partner or friend and share/exchange massages with one another.
- Turn up the heat. Take a long hot steamy bath or shower, or apply warm compresses to the back of the neck. Always check with your doctor or practitioner to make sure that this is appropriate for your particular health challenges.
- Positive people naturally help to reduce stress. Surround yourself with people who are empowering, supportive, kind, loving and relaxing. Avoid people who are hypercritical, degrading, and stressful. If you work or live in a stressful environment, consider making a lifestyle change. Consult with a therapist, counselor or trusted friend. If you must be in the company of someone who triggers stress, try the above stress reducing techniques and be sure to arrange for quality time for yourself.
If you are experiencing stress that is significantly affecting your emotional, mental or physical health, consult with your trusted physician or health practitioner and consider trying one or more of these lifestyle changing suggestions.
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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com. Graphic and photographic images are copyright free from www.Pixabay.com
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