Like it or not, stress is the reality of modern life. The American Psychological Association released the results of their 2018 yearly survey and it doesn’t look good. With more young people suffering from acute stress than ever before over the last decade, a whopping 90% of respondents showed symptoms of depression and reported feeling lack of energy and motivation.
Stress is unavoidable. Evolutionary we’re actually good dealing with huge loads of it, so it’s not necessary harmful. But being exposed to it for long periods makes it very dangerous and can lead to tragic results like chronic depression or even death.
The good news is that regardless of what type of stress you might experience you can reduce its harmful effects. Since May is the Mental Health Awareness Month, here are the most efficient stress-management techniques to try right now according to science.
Stop Taking Things Personally
Consider all the people who lived on this planet. Imagine if everyone would make a list of things they like and dislike. How much of that would match? The point is that we’re all very different and have our own perspectives on everything. There are trillions upon trillions of factors affecting how each of us behaves and interacts with others. Negative stuff happens, but it’s irrational to assume it’s being done to you intentionally. So if someone is being rude to you in a line or on a road, it’s much less stressful to completely extract yourself from the situation altogether. Just imagine they must be having a bad day and respond politely and in 99,99% of cases you’ll see a positive outcome. Respond negatively…and, well, you probably know for a fact that the results look ugly.
Try this: mental compartmentalization technique. Become aware of the emotions you initially had when facing some negative situation. Visualize putting it in a box. Imagine leaving this box behind or burying it. The next time you’ll face similar situations you’ll be better at controlling your emotions.
Avoid Issues with People and Forgive Easily
A study on productivity confirmed that business people who don’t dwell for a long time on their business partners’ mistakes and move on quickly are the most productive. Same formula can be applied in personal life as well. If you’re holding a grudge at someone, accept that they too are humans, and therefore flawed, and that you don’t know what their life is like. Holding a grudge is your burden and it’s like locking someone in the prison of your consciousness not realizing that you’re the only prisoner.
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It may not be easy, and memories would hurt, but if you repeat coming back to it more and more and tell yourself that it’s time to let go, eventually you’ll manage. Forgiveness is acknowledging what happened and moving on with your life, nothing more. You don’t have to actually do anything to or with the person who wronged you.
Cherish Family and Loved Ones
The most profound Harvard study on longevity and happiness showed that personal relationships and family play the most crucial role in our lives. People with strong interpersonal connections live longer and happier lives. Relationships affect our physical and mental health.
Therefore you should absolutely have more time dedicated to your loved ones. Don’t let the past interfere with your present life and forgive your loved ones and their flaws.
Sometimes all we have to do to stop feeling trapped in a relationship is to make a small adjustment or change the context. Try doing something new together. Plan a family holiday trip. Call out your partner on a romantic date. Attend a workshop together.
Give up Impressing Others
Aside from being a complete waste of your energy, always trying to impress people leads to negative self perception - a point in which you feel less and less satisfied with yourself no matter what you achieved. You’ll never be able to impress everybody because there are just too many ways of viewing life. We value different things, so what one sees as an achievement the other finds boring and not worth a struggle. The best thing to do is just to go your own way and go with what feels most natural to you.
Relying on other people views and opinions will only stress you out and draw you away from happiness because the source of it can only be internal, that is coming from within yourself.
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Try this: exercise and smile to yourself more often! Studies show that physical activity releases serotonin, a confidence-building hormone. Smiling more often acts in similar ways and boosts your self-perception and creativity.
Overthinking leads to procrastination. People who are prone to overthinking spend considerably more time on planning every little detail before setting out and actually do something. This way they end up depleted of energy even before the start and get easily frustrated when things don’t go the way they planned (which they would).
Instead of planning and trying to figure out your every step, it’s much better to Adjusting the course of your actions as you do it.
Try this: list all the tasks you want to do the next day before going to bed. List them in their order of priority. Check with the list the next day and redo it. If you weren’t able to fulfill something, write down what was holding you back. The next time you’ll be much better at it.
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There is no one size fits all solution to managing stress in your life. We all have unique backgrounds and life situations, but that’s exactly what should inspire you and give you hope. No matter how grim life might seem today, remember that you’re never alone and that there’s a vast world of possibilities and people willing to help you.
Smile for yourself and cheers:)