Do you know how much stress is harming your business? Your body? Your mental health? Your relationships? Your bottom line? Your children? Your future children?
Typical, dose-dependent stress reduction suggestions include:
Time with friends and family (strong social connections)
The problem with this suggestion is that stressed people have a difficult time building and maintaining good relationships.
Spend time in and connect with nature
The problem with this is it you have to have the ability to do it and do it in order for it to work and the effect is temporary.
The problem with exercise is that a large percentage of people who know exercise helps them with their stress don’t exercise when they feel too stressed.
Use time management skills
This reduces time stress but doesn’t address many other types of stress including relationship, financial, and many aspects of work stress.
Art is a good distraction but unless it is your occupation it can be difficult to find time to fit it in when you’re stressed. It’s impractical for daily stress relief.
Reading at its best can provide knowledge and skills that reduce stress, in the medium range it can provide a distraction from stress (temporary respite) and at its worse, it can add to stress if the reading materials chosen, lead to worsening emotional states. You can say the same thing about television and surfing the internet.
Prayers that reaffirm faith that things will turn out well are best and if you can maintain a high level of faith/trust that things will work out, prayer can be a significant stress reducer. If the prayers are beseeching (begging) or pleading or bargaining they do not serve the purpose of stress reduction because there is no real trust that things will work out or that the person praying deserves the reward of things working out (from their personal perspective).
Do something for others
This is dose-dependent and often depends on the way the person responds to the service or gift. If the improved mood is dependent on someone else acting in a specific way the person seeking stress relief is giving control of the outcome away. Also, this method is a change of focus. It’s important to know why it reduces stress because sometimes we are stressed and not in a situation where we can do anything for someone else such as when we are in a hospital bed.
This is a good practice, but it is dose-dependent and does not change one’s perspective so the stressor remains active.
Gratitude (research shows Appreciation is the better process)
Use appreciation instead of gratitude. Appreciation is more effective for 2/3 of the people who use the practice. As a daily ritual, it can help to reprogram your brain so that you see more that is good in our world. It’s dose-dependent if it is not used on a very regular basis.
Petting your pet
This is a good dose-dependent stress reduction method but it does not provide permanent change. Pets add enormously to our lives but at times they can also add stress and grief.
18 seconds is long enough to generate a beneficial biochemical cocktail from our body’s natural systems with helpful Oxytocin.
Stress often leads to insomnia.
Journaling can be positive or negative. It really depends on the focus that is taken. Does the person write about things that are upsetting or focus on things that feel good to think about?
Confiding in a friend
This often depends on how the conversation goes. Co-ruminating (aka gripping sessions) that focus solely on the problems have a negative impact on us. If we state the problem and then focus on potential solutions confiding in a friend can reduce stress about a specific situation.
Meditation and Yoga
Whether these practices are dose-dependent or not depends on the frequency. Occasional practices don’t lead to changes in the neuro-pathways in our brain so meditation and yoga are dose-dependent when they aren’t normal routines. Regular practice can lead to changes in the brain that reduce stress.
Positive thinking is actually the best method of permanent stress reduction but most recommendations just tell you to think positive but don’t tell you how to accomplish that goal. That’s one of the areas where we excel at Happiness1st.com. It’s important not to think it’s true simply because you thought the thought or that it’s the best possible thought you can think on that subject. The thoughts you think are significantly impacted by your mood when you are thinking as well as whether you’re rested, hungry, thirsty, or ill.
For quality sleep we’re told to:
Stick to a sleep schedule
Pay attention to what we eat and drink
Create a bedtime ritual
Limit daytime naps
Include physical activity in your daily routine
These are all good suggestions if your occupation and lifestyle allow you to follow them. People giving advice about sleeping well typically don’t offer suggestions about how to actually manage stress or offer only dose-dependent strategies or encourage positive thinking without telling you how to think more positively if your habits of thought don’t lean that way.
There are healthy habits of thought that lead to the outcomes you want.
There are unhealthy habits of thought that lead to outcomes you do not want.
You can know, in each moment, if the thoughts you are thinking are healthy or unhealthy. Healthy thoughts feel good or light and they energize you. Unhealthy thoughts feel heavy and leave you feeling lethargic.
You can change your thoughts to healthier ones in the moment that you notice you are thinking thoughts that are leading you to outcomes you do not want.
You can know, in each moment, whether your thoughts are leading you toward your personal goals.
Think of your thoughts as seeds. If you want to grow corn you don’t want your thoughts to plant brussel sprouts.
Every book I’ve written has offered techniques that can permanently change your habits of thought to ones that are more positive but my next book, Mental Health Made Easy will provide the clearest description of the process so far. The big picture of positive thinking and mental health clicked into clear view in my mind a few months back and I am more excited about bringing this book to the world than I was with any other, even my first book. Amazon already has it up for pre-order although the cover on Amazon is not the professional one that will be on the actual book (shown below).