Four Vital Tips to Reduce Stress

Many of us live incredibly fast paced lives, where more time is spent on electronic devices than in human contact.

I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy spending time on my computer. I want to be outside: cycling through the park, doing yoga, spending time with my partner and my dear friends or reading. Yet I find myself spending more and more time getting stuff done online. If you are often stressed and overwhelmed trying to keep up with the mass of instantaneous information and communications of our time, the list below may be helpful.

It is a short-list of tools and practices that have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase happiness and wellbeing. They are also the practices that I have found over the years work for me to recentre and rebalance.  Perhaps there is a way to include (if you haven’t already) some of the tools I outline below in your week which will help you to increase the time you spend enjoying your life while improving your sense of joy and well being.

1) Spend time with friends. Make sure these are friends that add to your life, not detract from it. They should be friends who make you laugh, who inspire and support you. (Be wary of the friendships that leave you feeling drained, judged and resentful.)

2) Spend time on your own.  Even just half an hour a day, do something you enjoy on your own. I love to go for a walk in the park and writing in my journal. How you choose to spend your time is up to you but make sure it’s something that is for you and something that gets your creative juices flowing.

3) Watch and listen to your inner self without doing anything. This has profound benefits for our psychological and emotional health. There is much recent research on the benefits of meditation. One study showed that specific mindfulness meditations were as effective at alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression as medication. Consistent, long-term meditators have also been shown in studies to have better relationships and experience more positive emotions than non meditators in another study. This is because meditation (and there are numerous forms - some seated and some moving: yoga, tai chi, TM, mindfulness, Insight, etc.) re-wires the brain so we experience more calm and contentment and less stress and fear in our lives. When we breathe and are aware of our breath we activate our parasympathetic nervous system -the rest and restore system of the body.

4) Spend quality time with your partner. This does not have to be complicated, or expensive. For example, it might be a discussion on the events of the day while you both walk the dog around the block; it could be a chat together in the kitchen as you prepare dinner or in bed prior to falling asleep. It is vital for the longevity of your relationship to maintain that emotional connection and intimacy.

It’s even more vital if you have children. By spending time with your partner you are also automatically improving your parenting. Kids automatically and often unconsciously pick up on the good and estranged relationships of their primary caregivers and, if estranged, can lead to a great deal of emotional stress. So even if you are separated from your partner who co-parents with you, it is worth spending time and energy on your relationship for your kids’ sake.