You Already Have the Simple Tools You Need to Reduce Your Stress

Some think finding ways to reduce stress is like the journey of searching for the Holy Grail — a lifelong pursuit of chasing an elusive and challenging goal..

But the reality is that finding ways to reduce your stress is better compared to the story of the Acres of Diamonds.

Author Russell Conwell tells the story of an African diamond farmer who traveled the world in pursuit of wealth, his family not realizing until after his death that he had acres of diamonds right in his backyard.

You don’t have to search for the Holy Grail of stress reduction — you already have all of the tools you need to reduce your stress. And they don’t cost you anything except effort to change your stress habits.

It’s not just about having the right tools to reduce your stress — it’s more about USING them effectively.

See, you may also have familiar tools of trying to reduce your stress — but which actually do the opposite.

Some unhealthy coping strategies that actually may be exacerbating your stress, :

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Over-eating
  • Over-sleeping
  • Screen time overuse
  • Gossiping
  • Social withdrawal

But, changing these habits is not easy. They may make you feel calmer and more relaxed in the moment, but have been proven to increase your mind and body stress levels.

You want to make sure you begin practicing new healthy ways to reduce your stress. And you already have most of the tools.

Replacing short term stress relief with long term strategies may take some time for you. Change is often not easy. Some days will go smoother than others.

Hang in there — changing habits is a process.

Changing to healthy stress strategies will change your mind and body. The following healthy stress habits will cause new release of pleasurable brain chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and more. Many of the following will also disrupt a quick activation of your body’s stress response system.

These healthy stress reducing strategies are your acres of diamonds. Which ones are the best for you to replace some of the unhealthy things you’re doing now? All are simple things to do, but not so easy to change into a habit.

Once you integrate your new healthy habit, it will be much easier to get rid of the old unhealthy habit. Often, replacing a habit with another habit can be a great way to help you quit the first one.

Here are simple things to reduce your stress that you can begin doing today:

Improve Your Gut health

Yep, reducing your stress is the upteenth reason to have a healthy diet. What you eat, as well as your process of eating and digestion will affect your moods — including your stress and anxiety.

You have a second brain in your gut that’s constantly communicating with your thinking brain. Your gut brain is connected to your central nervous system through your vagus nerve, which controls your emotional regulation. Improving your gut health will increase your vagal tone, which will help make you feel calmer and more connected.

Your gut should be full of healthy bacteria, which produces microbiomes. Fermented, prebiotic and probiotic foods help produce the healthy bacteria.

Also, your process of eating and digestion — including your habits of chewing, swallowing, post-meal relaxing for better food digestion and elimination — will also affect your gut health.

Get Better Sleep

Establishing low-stress sleeping habits will not only help you at night, but also throughout your day, as well.

Healthy nighttime sleep will help you significantly reduce your overall stress and anxiety.

You can be intentional about what you do the hour or so before you want to sleep. Avoid eating, drinking, screen time or anything else that is challenging your mind and body to move into slumber.

You can set up your bedroom to be more pleasing to your senses, which will help you have better sleep. You can change your sleeping area colors, lighting, temperature and more to promote better sleeping conditions for you.

Master Intentional Belly Breathing

Most times when you feel stressed or anxious, you will probably begin uneven or even choppy “chest-breathing.” This is what happens right before your stress response system is activated.

You can practice and master deliberate diaphragmatic breathing techniques to quickly get you calm when you feel stressed.

Slow, deliberate breathing down to your diaphragm (at your belly button) will quickly activate the calming part of your central nervous system. And it only takes a few of them to get you calm.

You can practice deliberate belly breathing by putting one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Try to breath slowly without the hand on your chest moving and focusing on the smooth up-and-down movement of the hand resting on your belly.

Get More Movement and Exercise

Another great way to improve your mental health and reduce your stress — regular daily movement and exercise.

Aerobic and muscle-stretching activities — walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, and even weight lifting or playing a team sport — can boost physical fitness, improve strength, and increase self-esteem and confidence — all of which can help to improve stress and anxiety.

Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, and has been clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Practice Small Acts of Routine Mindfulness

You can be mindful in your daily routines from the moment you get out of bed each morning. Mindfulness allows you to focus on your awareness of each moment.

You can take a mindful shower or bath, mindfully brush your hair and teeth, mindfully walk to your car, etc. Each of your routine habits can be adjusted to be an exercise in mindfulness.

Maintain mindfulness during each of your routine habits throughout the day.

Mindfulness reduces the activity in the emotional part of your brain and increases activity in your thinking brain, which will help calm you.

Practice Meditation

When it comes to combating your stress, meditation is a great habit to take up and integrate into your daily routine. For centuries, meditation has been used to help people deal with their stress and anxiety and feel calmer within themselves. Meditation helps you to find the positive energy inside of yourself and feel more connected and at peace with yourself and the world around you.

If you start meditating regularly, you’ll find that stressful situations no longer overwhelm you as much — you’ll be calmer, more relaxed, and able to take on more challenges. Meditation will help you feel more relaxed and in control.

The act of taking the time to sit in quiet and collect your thoughts for a while can help to reduce stress, as meditation requires you to breathe deeply, which will oxygenate your brain, activate the calming part of your central nervous system, and give you more energy to deal with your stress.

Be Creative

Getting creative can be one of the best ways to deal with your stress. The best thing about tapping into your creativity to combat stress is that you don’t have to be particularly artistic in order to succeed. Lots of studies indicate that the process of creating something lowers your stress levels.

Your brain’s stress response system is located right in the sensory part of your brain. When you are creative, the sensory part of your brain is activated, which calms the “survival” part of your brain. Any type of drawing, doodling, coloring, baking, singing or other creative expression will feel like a cool breeze to your inflamed stress response system.

And don’t focus or be concerned about the outcome or results of your creativity. It’s not about evaluating or judging what you’ve created; it’s that the sensory part of your brain is calming you while you’re in the process of creating.

Get Up and Dance

A fun time dancing — any type of dancing — will do wonders for your stress. Research shows dancing regulates the brain in almost magical (unexplained) ways. Dancing is proven to reduce stress, improve mental health and slow the process of aging.

Dancing is also the best activity to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s mental exercise for your mind.

And dancing is more fun than just regular movement and exercise. Different types of dance connect with different parts of your sensory brain. As an example, Zumba and Tai Chi have both been used in research focusing on balance, control and emotional regulation.

Find some tasty tunes and get up and dance.

Form Safe, Healthy Relationships

When you’re feeling stressed, it can be easy to try and hide how stressed you feel from your family and friends as, naturally, you don’t want them to be worried about you or you may feel vulnerable.

However, knowing when to ask for support and having the best people around to support you is very important when it comes to effectively managing your stress. Building and maintaining safe and strong relationships with your family and close friends means that you will have somebody to talk to when the going gets tough, which can be extremely helpful to reduce your stress.

Having somebody to talk to and confide in about whatever is stressing you out can be a tremendous help to you. Your healthiest relationships are ones that make you feel the safest — accepting your authentic self without constant judgment.

Which of these tools in your acres of diamonds will you turn into a new healthy habit?

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Increasing your mental resilience will help you change your stress habits. Get your FREE copy — 8 Secrets to Boost Mental Resilience and Avoid Burnout and join 1147 others changing their stress to experience more joy and happiness and live their best lives!

Marty Wolner is a certified trauma and stress healer and impact coach (17 years) who has helped hundreds of adults and children heal from emotional adversity.

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Marty Wolner

Marty Wolner

Marty Wolner is a certified trauma and stress healer and impact coach (17 years) who has helped hundreds of adults and children heal from emotional adversity.

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