Don’t worry, be happy?
That’s the goal - and with our 11 proven strategies, we can all manage stress more effectively.
According to recent studies, more than one in every four workers in Canada reports being highly stressed. The reasons include not only work responsibilities and expectations, but also finances, family situations and personal reasons.
At the same time, we need to mention that not all stress is bad: Historically speaking, the “fight or flight” response has helped humans to survive all kinds of threats. In a stressful situation, the body’s heart rate increases, the breath quickens and muscles tense to spring into action. But really, when was the last time we needed to run from a wild animal (never a good idea anyways) or defend our home from invaders (unless carpenter ants count? 🐜🤦♀️).
Shorts bursts of stress are not the problem - long-term stress is. Chronic stress is known to affect productivity, absenteeism (leading to sick leaves and higher burnout rates) as well as a drop in morale. People who are stressed may become impatient, more sensitive and emotionally exhausted. High stress levels may also affect the immune system and trigger or aggravate conditions such as heart disease, obesity and asthma.
So, let’s do something about those stress levels, shall we? Kick up your Nuknuuk-covered feet and read about these 11 easy ways to reduce stress:
1. Slow Down
When you calendar is packed with meetings, social events and commitments, you may be too distracted to feel the effects of stress. Make sure that you don’t overdo it and insist on staying in occasionally. Sit down with a good book or magazine, a cup of tea and your favourite Nuknuuk slippers, and simply relax for a bit.
2. Get Organized
Stress often builds up when we feel overwhelmed with all those things we have to do today, this week or this lifetime. It helps to make to-do lists or to mentally review what needs to be done the next day. That way, you know exactly where to start and you can keep stress to a minimum.
3. Start Moving More
Nothing is better to reduce stress than to exercise. That’s when your body releases endorphins, or so-called happiness hormones. The trick is to exercise outside when possible and not to overdo it.
4. Schedule Short Breaks
Since most of us simply can’t relax all the time, it might help to schedule short breaks throughout your busy day. Get up and stretch, walk around for 5 minutes, or find a quiet spot and breathe.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Speaking of breathing: Mindfulness and a simple meditation practice are easy to learn, and even short 1-minute breathing exercises can have a profound impact on stress levels. When stressed, the body’s natural response is shallow breathing, so becoming more aware and taking deeper breaths will alleviate stress. Try it tomorrow morning: Slip into your robe and Nuknuuk slippers, find a peaceful spot in which to sit and simply breathe for a few minutes. If you need help, check out some free apps like Calm, Simple Habit or Insight Timer that provide guided meditations.
6. Write It Down
It may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes stress in your life, or there may be too many different factors. One way to identify areas of concern is to keep a journal. You may be surprised at what you discover. Regular journal entries help especially if you are stuck in the past, if you are fretting about the future or simply stressed about something that is happening today. Be honest!
7. Take Time for Yourself
When we get busy, we often forget to do things for ourselves. So if you want to control stress levels, make sure you do something for yourself. This can be anything that helps you relax (including the examples above: exercising, taking breaks, mindfulness, reading a book). If it’s watching your favourite Netflix show in your PJs and Nuknuuk slippers, then that’s great - enjoy!
8. Pamper Yourself
This is such an important point we had to separate it from the one above. Pampering yourself means not only taking time for yourself, but also spoiling yourself once in a while. So go ahead, draw a luxurious bath for yourself, or get that mani-pedi (your toes will look great in your Zaza flip flops). Other ideas include a spa visit, a massage, or a poolside margarita in sunny Mexico… 🌞
9. Do What Makes You Happy
If you engage in activities you enjoy, you feel more relaxed and less stressed naturally. If you enjoy cooking, then spend some time in the kitchen (conversely, if it stresses you out, consider take-out once in a while or cook big batches of food on the weekend to reduce stress throughout the week). If you like team sports, join a league in your area. If you like painting, wield your paint brushes and colors. Hobbies are an important tool in keeping stress at bay.
10. Try Something New
Identifying and changing patterns that keep you stressed is important - because it helps you grow and find new ways to cope with stress. If you feel stuck or uninspired with your normal routine, then make a change. Big or small, it does not matter. Say yes to new ideas and experiences - you never know what might happen.
11. Sign Up for Laughter Yoga
Remember that time when you had to laugh so hard, you had tears in your eyes? Laughter is one of the best medicines and a great stress reliever. But it can also be hard work. If you find a laughter yoga session in your neighbourhood, do try it. The playful exercises, jokes and “forced” laughter can trick your brain and provide the same benefits as spontaneous laughter.
A comfy couch, Nuknuuk slippers and a hot beverage are our go-to stress busters. What are your favorite ways to reduce stress? Let us know in the comments below!