3 Proven Tips to Instantly Lower Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month. Lovely. I think you're probably well aware of the stress you feel! How about some tips to lower it right now? Check out my top three below. I've learned to use these the hard way-by being someone who often feels stressed and overwhelmed and is passionate about peace of mind.
Before you "pooh-pooh" them as too simple or inconsequential, check out the science behind why they work. Then, give them a try. It won't take long-and you'll be surprised at how much better you feel!
1. Delete!
We feel stress when we think what we have to do or what's going to happen is too much to handle. The tasks and events ahead look like they'll take more resources than we have. Whether those resources are time, money, energy, or relationships, we just don't feel like we've got enough to handle what we're facing.
The antidote?
Cut something out. Hit delete. Reduce your load. Make the task or event easier.
You really don't have to do everything on your list. I know it feels like you have to do all these things, but you don't. Some things you're planning to do aren't a top priority. So, cut them out-right away! If something is really important, it will come back on your list. Otherwise, let it go for now.
Get out your list, or make one, of everything you think you have to do. Then start crossing things off. You can write some on another list or in your calendar to do later. Keep only TOP PRIORITY RIGHT NOW items on your To Dos for today and organize them in the order that makes the most sense.
I can see your shoulders dropped a few inches. Your burden is lighter. You don't have to hold up the whole world. It will keep turning. Just do the few things that are top priority for you today.
Why does this work? First, it changes your perception of how much you have to do-and, when it comes to stress, perception is everything. Second, this type of decision making activates the executive function in the prefrontal cortex of your brain. This dampens your fear response and helps you feel more in control of your life.
2. Close your eyes and feel your breathing.
Now that you've cleared a little space on your list, take a minute to consciously relax. It will honestly take just a minute. I know you want to get on to the next tip (at least that's how I am when I'm reading), but trust me, this will only take a minute-and it will be worth it.
Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep, gentle breaths in and out through your nose only, feeling the sensations of breathing inside your body.
Why does this work? Closing your eyes, breathing slowly, and feeling calming inner sensations activate your body's natural relaxation response. In addition, breathing in and out through your nose balances the carbon dioxide levels in your body and increases nitric oxide production. These gases relax and dilate your blood vessels and bronchial passages bringing more oxygen to your cells. This refreshes your energy and helps you feel more at ease.
Go ahead and try this now. For just one minute, let go of everything else, close your eyes, and become completely absorbed in the sensations of slow, deep, gentle breathing. That's about 5-8 breaths, depending on your pace. Do this, then come back for tip number three.
3. Plan to do one thing that makes you happy.
What do you like to do that is purely enjoyable, makes you smile when you think of it, and makes you happy when you know you're going to do it?
What is that for you? It can be anything at all, even if it just takes a minute-except it can't be work-related. (As a Capricorn, I sometimes try to fudge this one by choosing a work task I enjoy. Instead, choose something purely for enjoyment. For example, I like to play pool and take walks in nature.)
What if you did this for even a few minutes right now, sometime today, or set a firm plan to do it this week? How does this make you feel?
Why does this work? When you do things you enjoy, you release biochemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins in your brain that make you feel relaxed and happy.
Set a reminder to practice these three tips as often as you need.
You could write all three on a sticky note, send yourself an email (with the SUBJECT: Delete, Breath, Enjoy!) and keep it at the top of your INBOX, set all three as "repeat events" in your schedule, or remind yourself in any way that works best for you.
If you practice all three every day, you'll release built-up stress and accumulate less stress. You'll be more in touch with what is really important to you, more relaxed no matter what you're doing, and look forward to enjoying something special. Can you imagine your life being happier and less stressful if you made these tips a habit?
Learn how to cultivate a relaxed state of being and a clear focused mind in the book, "Clear Quiet Mind." Available on Amazon: Click Here For More Information
Kevin Schoeninger is a writer and teacher of Mind-Body training, including Mindfulness, Meditation, Qigong, and Reiki. He is the author of the book "Clear Quiet Mind" and numerous guided meditations and programs in the field of personal empowerment and spiritual growth.
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