How to Reduce Stress – 6 Ways

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. 

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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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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