10 Simple Stress Busters

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1. Exercise: Yes exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Any form of physical activity counts. Just a simple walk can help burn off energy from a trying situation or day, and create a distraction (even if only temporarily) from your ordinary schedule. Plus, it increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain and increases endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals, while reducing stress hormones like cortisol.
2. Just say NO: With all of the things vying for our attention these days, learning to say NO is simply essential. Not only do we need to learn to say No to the things we really don’t want to do, but often we need to learn to say No to some of the things we would like to do. I love the book Margin, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D., a terrific look at creating margin in our overtaxed lives.




3.  Snuggle or Play with your Pet: If you don’t have a pet, borrow one. Go visit a friend who has a pet. Take your pet for a walk, or walk a friends pet and get the added benefits of physical activity. Spending time with a pet increases oxytocin and dopamine, happy hormones in the brain and decreases stress levels.



4. Turn Off The Stress of Your Daily Commute: If you have a daily commute, look for ways to decrease the stress involved and increase the relaxation. If you travel during rush hour or in heavy traffic, try an alternate route or check to see if you could shift your work schedule a little to reduce the amount of traffic during the times you travel. Use the time in your car to listen to teaching CDs or other interesting things that will help you to look forward to your commute and enjoy the time. Listen to enjoyable music. Find someone to share the ride with. Take turns driving, have some company and save some gas money. Try public transportation. Often when I go out to visit my family in Maine, I fly into Boston where I get a cheaper rate, and then I hop on the bus for a 2 hour ride which is just long enough to watch a movie.


5. Create a Mental “Do Not Discuss” List: Stay away from stressful topics of  conversation. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you have to engage in a conversation. Some conversations with certain people are simply fruitless and a waste of energy. Assess the conversation. Will it create more stress than it is worth? This is especially true with certain people. If you have someone in your life that constantly wants to argue about a particular topic, just don’t engage.

6. When faced with too many options or a stressful situation evaluate its importance: How important is it in the long run. Will it matter a month from now or a year from now? When I was going through my battle with cancer, my husband, Jim, and I had to continually evaluate things in this manner. It was quite helpful because there were many things that we would have liked to do that we had to set aside. So we asked the question “Will this matter a year from now?”

7. Don’t Feed on Stressful Input: Turn the TV off or at least assess and limit what you watch. Don’t watch the news if it is stressful. Don’t watch action packed and/or stress inducing programs especially right before bedtime. Pay attention to what you listen to on the radio; how you feel in the company of the people you spend time with. Take a close look at all the areas of input into your life and see how many areas of stress can be reduced or eliminated.

8. Stay out of Debt: A terrific book on this topic is The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Visit our Library for information on this book and many others.

9. Keep a Gratitude Journal: It will help you to focus on the positive things in your life rather than the negative.

10. Organize Your Life: Many stressors come as a result of disorganization. Pick one small area and organize it this week.

Create a “Bug List”. Just grab a piece of paper and jot down all the little things that bug you; the things that drain your time and energy. Then sit down with this list and take a good look at it. A large percentage of what is on this list can likely be fixed with little time, energy or money. This is a great place to start organizing.
Example: It bugs me that I can never find my keys when I need to leave the house.
Simple, fast and inexpensive fix: Grab a tack pin. You know the kind you use on a bulletin board that has a little head that sticks out. Pin it inside the coat closet just inside the door you use and place your keys on it as soon as you come in the door.

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