Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

How to Reduce Stress – 6 Ways

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How to Reduce Stress - 6 Ways

Life and stress can feel like a package deal but if stress is allowed to dig its claws in, it will do damage. Time to break those two up. The human brain can’t do everything it has to do – keep us alive, thinking, feeling, doing – and on top of that deal with the assault from stress. Here’s how to reduce stress before it gets it’s curly hooks in too deep:

  1. Connect with people.

    Humans have an innate, primitive need for connection, but life and too much time with those who give more than they take, can make hiding away from the world and all its neighbours a very attractive option. Spending time with people can tweak your perception of things and give you a laugh – which also releases feel-good hormones. 

  2. Be active.

    Yep, you’ve heard it all before, but that’s because it actually works. Physical activity clears your head and releases your feel-good endorphins. Exercise also improves sleep, which brings me to …

  3. Sleep.

    While we are asleep, our brain is hard at work. During sleep, the brain processes the emotions and issues that are leftover from the day. It’s why you’ll often feel better about things after a good sleep – because your brain has been busy looking after you.

  4. Do what you love.

    Sounds simple enough if you know what that is but many people don’t. If you don’t know what you love, try something you’ve never tried or something you haven’t tried for a while. What did you love doing for fun when you were a child? Painting? Dancing? Kicking a ball? Chances are you’ll still love doing it.

  5. Make time for yourself.

    If you’re way down your list of priorities, get out of your own way and bump yourself well up the list. Making time to de-stress is the very thing that will improve the way you function in every other part of your life – relationships, work, your own physical health. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth because of a lack of time – well, maybe once or twice but you wouldn’t let it go for long. Granted, brushing your teeth doesn’t take a lot of time but if it took say, 30 minutes a day instead of 5, would you let your teeth go? So why would you give your mental health less priority than your dental health. 

  6. Listen to music.

    ‘Weightless by Marconi Union has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). You can read about the incredible effects of ‘Weightless’ here and find the link to the song here. While we’re on relaxing beats …

The top ten list of relaxing songs are:

  • 1. Weightless (Marconi Union)
  • 2. Electra (Airstream)
  • 3. Mellomaniac (DJ Shah – Chill Out Mix)
  • 4. Watermark (Enya)
  • 5. Strawberry Swing (Coldplay)
  • 6. Please Don’t Go (Barcelona)
  • 7. Pure Shores (All Saints
  • 8. Someone Like You (Adele)
  • 9. Canzonetta Sull’aria (Mozart)
  • 10. We Can Fly (Café Del Mar).

And finally …

Anything you do limit your exposure to stress, or diminish your experience of it is important. So important in fact, that if your brain could it would breathe a heavy sigh of relief and leave a heady thank you note on your pillow. 

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2 Comments

Sharon H

Sometimes easier said than done, but I think we need to be reminded that there are always things we can do to help manage stress. My problem is that a huge chunk of my stress comes from things that I can’t change. And it has been going on almost daily for 10 years or more. However, this article has helped me be aware of mechanisms that help and what is truly important. Thank you for this, I really needed to be reminded of what I can do in the here and now.

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Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.








Hey Sigmund on Instagram

There is absolutely nothing that feels okay about There is absolutely nothing that feels okay about moving our children towards something that fuels their anxiety and distress. The drive to scoop them up and lift them over that ‘something’ can feel monumental, because as parents we are wired to protect our children from distress. This is related to attachment, and it’s is one of the strongest instincts known to us humans. .
♥️
But sometimes we will need to be brave enough for them, and remove avoidance as an option. This might feel awful but it’s important. The brain learns from experience so the more they avoid the more they will be driven to avoid, but the more they are brave the more they will be brave. It’s okay if this happens in little steps, as long as the steps are forward. .
♥️
When we take avoidance off the table, things might get worse before they get better. When something that has always worked stops working, we’ll do that thing more before we try something different. We all do this. If avoidance has worked as a way to bring calm, the amygdala (the part of the brain in charge of anxiety) will be rock solid in the belief that this is the only way to feel safe. .
♥️
When we stop supporting avoidance, the amygdala will often recruit other emotions (anger, distress) to make us (the recruited support) bring back avoidance as an option. This is not bad behaviour or manipulative behaviour. It is absolutely 100% NOT that. It’s the brain making way for the only way it knows to feels safe and calm - avoidance. .
♥️
There is no doubt you love your kiddos and would do anything to support them. But anxiety has a way of messing with this. When anxiety drives avoidance, it can feel as though we’re supporting our kids but we’re actually supporting anxiety. .
♥️
When we lift them over the things that make them anxious, but which are safe (and often life-giving), we are inadvertently aligning ourselves with anxiety and its message that they aren’t brave enough, or that the only way to be safe is to avoid the things that make them anxious. But we know this isn’t true. We know they are capable of greatness, and that greatness is often made of tiny brave steps.♥️
.

There is absolutely nothing that feels okay about moving our children towards something that fuels their anxiety and distress. The drive to scoop them up and lift them over that ‘something’ can feel monumental, because as parents we are wired to protect our children from distress. This is related to attachment, and it’s is one of the strongest instincts known to us humans. .
♥️
But sometimes we will need to be brave enough for them, and remove avoidance as an option. This might feel awful but it’s important. The brain learns from experience so the more they avoid the more they will be driven to avoid, but the more they are brave the more they will be brave. It’s okay if this happens in little steps, as long as the steps are forward. .
♥️
When we take avoidance off the table, things might get worse before they get better. When something that has always worked stops working, we’ll do that thing more before we try something different. We all do this. If avoidance has worked as a way to bring calm, the amygdala (the part of the brain in charge of anxiety) will be rock solid in the belief that this is the only way to feel safe. .
♥️
When we stop supporting avoidance, the amygdala will often recruit other emotions (anger, distress) to make us (the recruited support) bring back avoidance as an option. This is not bad behaviour or manipulative behaviour. It is absolutely 100% NOT that. It’s the brain making way for the only way it knows to feels safe and calm - avoidance. .
♥️
There is no doubt you love your kiddos and would do anything to support them. But anxiety has a way of messing with this. When anxiety drives avoidance, it can feel as though we’re supporting our kids but we’re actually supporting anxiety. .
♥️
When we lift them over the things that make them anxious, but which are safe (and often life-giving), we are inadvertently aligning ourselves with anxiety and its message that they aren’t brave enough, or that the only way to be safe is to avoid the things that make them anxious. But we know this isn’t true. We know they are capable of greatness, and that greatness is often made of tiny brave steps.♥️
.
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