“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.”
George F. Burns
How do you relieve stress and live a more relaxing life?
I've already written about a few long-term and short-term answers to that in a whole bunch of articles.
But what can you do about it if you feel stressed out right now? Here are 7 quick and immediately applicable tips to lower your stress-levels.
1. Go for a walk and an ice-cream. Slowly.
The exercise and fresh air is great to clear your mind and I find eating ice-cream to be a pretty relaxing thing. If you are stressed out then you'll probably move fast and do things quickly. But it works the other way around too. So focus on walking slowly, enjoying your surroundings and eat that ice-cream at reasonable pace – depending on how hot it is outside – and you'll soon feel more relaxed.
2. Take 30 belly-breaths.
This is probably the most efficient way to relax I have found so far. It's easy, quick and you can do it anywhere. And it works pretty much every time. Here's what you do:
– Sit in a relaxing position with your legs apart.
– Put your hands on your stomach. Using your stomach breathe in slowly through your nose. If you are doing it right your stomach will expand and you'll feel it with your hands.
– Breathe out slowly through your nose and do it with some force so you feel your stomach pull slightly inwards towards your spine.
– Breathe in and out 30 times. Take deep and slow breaths.
– After you have taken 30 breaths and focused on counting them you should not only feel more relaxed and centered. Your body will also be able to continue breathing in this manner without you focusing on it. And that's it. Continue with your normal day.
3. Find five things you can be grateful for right now.
Being grateful and appreciating your life and surroundings is one of the most effective ways to turn a negative emotional state to a more positive one. So find a few things you are grateful for right now. Perhaps it's the sunny weather, that you feel healthy and energetic today, that you have just eaten a delicious after-noon snack, that the guy/gal that just walked by had a great looking jacket on and that tonight there is a new episode of your favourite TV-show to enjoy.
4. Make a list of the three most important things you have to do today.
Then do them, one at a time. Start with most important one. Don't worry or think about the rest of the stuff you need to do. Procrastinating or just keeping busy to avoid doing the big and truly important tasks creates great amounts of stress. Once you are done with the most important task you not only feel calmer but also more self-confident and the two remaining tasks will become easier to handle.
5. Write everything down.
Write down your thoughts, appointments, commitments and shopping lists. Don't try to keep it in your mind. This only adds stress as you worry about forgetting something and uses a good chunk of your mental RAM for remembering rather than thinking. Writing everything down is great and simple habit to keep your mind clear and focused on more important things than remembering how much milk you need to buy.
6. Declutter your workspace.
A clean and organized desk and workspace creates a clean and relaxed mind. Just take 5 minutes right now to clean up. Forming a habit of doing this on a regular basis is an easy way to not only keeping the workspace looking nice and clean but also to improve your mental focus and clarity.
7. Read Steve Pavlina.
This one might sound a little odd but when I feel stressed I read one or two of Steve Pavlina's long pieces of writing. And it calms me down. I don't really know why, perhaps it comes from focusing for quite a few minutes on a long, lucid and often pretty inspiring article. There is a different pace over at Steve's blog compared to most of the internet and real-life, I guess.