How Positive Habits Can Reduce Stress

Our lives are largely the result of our habits. It’s easy to see the impact that habits, both positive and negative, have on our lives.

Brushing your teeth every day has a profound impact on the condition of your teeth. Missing a day here and there has little impact, but brushing on a regular basis has a very positive outcome. On the other hand, failing to brush your teeth regularly has a very negative effect, and brushing your teeth occasionally doesn’t help much. It’s the habit of brushing that provides positive results.

Similarly, there are many habits that can reduce your stress and promote the harmony we all crave. Again, these habits won’t accomplish much if only used sparingly. It’s important to make a daily habit of them.

Remember that stress is something you often do to yourself. Being yelled at by your boss isn’t necessarily stressful. It’s your resulting thoughts that create stress. Some examples might include:

  • Does this mean I’m going to get fired? How will my family survive?
  • I’ll never get a promotion. I’ll be stuck in this job forever.
  • I really need that raise. Now it won’t happen.
  • My boss hates me. I hate my job. How did I end up here?

Can you see how more positive mental habits could result in less stress? Although these mental habits might be deeply ingrained, they can be altered for the better.

“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

– Valerie Bertinelli

Habits That Make Life Easier and More Pleasant

There are certain habits that help minimize stress and promote harmony. Creating new habits that serve you and support your physical and mental health can only make life easier and more fulfilling.

Incorporate these 10 habits into your life:

1.      Make a list of the most important things to get done. Completing important tasks each day makes life easier and less stressful. Most of us wake up each day and spend our mornings trying to figure out what to do first. Whether it’s a Monday or Saturday morning, know what needs to be done before your feet hit the floor.

  • Before retiring for the evening, make a list of the things that need to be done the following day. Prioritize them and create a plan for getting them done.
  • By making your list at night, you free up your mind to focus on other things. Your brain is free to work on solutions while you sleep. You can get started immediately and avoid procrastinating.

2.      Exercise. Exercise boosts your mood. An intense workout can help to clear the mind, burn off excess energy, and reduce stress. It’s good for your body, mind, and waistline, too!

  • Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy. Remember that there are plenty of options for exercising alone or with others.
  • Find a way to make exercise a part of your daily schedule.

3.      Be grateful. When feeling stressed, you’re probably focusing on the negative. Everything seems to go south when your stress level is sky-high. But you likely have many things in your life that are great.

  • On the drive to work, make a mental list of everything in your life that fills you with a sense of gratitude. It might be your health, children, spouse, home, or even the song on the radio.
  • By focusing on the positive, you will raise your level of happiness.

4.      Stay in the present. When your stress level starts to rise, you may dissociate from your environment and start living more inside your head. Stress has a way of making us fret about the future and focus on the negative. This cycle only magnifies the stress.

  • Imagining the worst isn’t going to help. If anything, it will make you less capable of dealing with the issue at hand.
  • It’s important to bring yourself back to the present moment. Focusing on your environment is one of the best ways to snap back to reality.
  • Look around and describe 10 things you see. If possible, describe them aloud. For example, “I’m looking out the window and see a small brown dog running through the grass. He has a red collar and floppy ears.”
  • After you’ve described 10 things you see, go through a similar process with what you hear, smell, and feel. Depending on the environment, finding 10 items may be difficult, so just list as many as you can.
  • By the time you’re done, you’ll be back in the present moment and out of your head. Your stress level will be lower, too!

5.      Monitor your mood and self-talk. Most challenges are easier to prevent than they are to solve. It’s much easier to avoid gaining weight than it is to lose 100 pounds. It’s easier to brush your teeth each day than it is deal with severely decayed teeth.

  • If you’re able to notice when your mood and thoughts start to go awry, it’s much easier to bring yourself back to a more positive condition. So when you first start to feel stressed, acknowledge it and begin to deal with it.
  • It takes time to develop this habit, but it’s critical. You might want to set a timer to remind yourself to review how you’re feeling as each hour passes.

6.      Spend some time on enjoyable activities. If you feel like you rarely get to take part in enjoyable activities, now is the perfect time to start. There’s rarely a better time than the present.

  • Think about something you’ve always dreamed of doing and come up with a plan to make it a regular part of your life. Thirty minutes of enjoyable activity is bound to make you feel better.

7.      Meditate or pray. Meditation is one of the best ways to give our brains a rest. Even sleep isn’t as mentally restful because we often spend all night dreaming about work or bizarre situations.

  • Many individuals find benefit in prayer. It can provide a peaceful perspective and hope for the future.
  • Consider adding meditation, prayer, or both into your daily schedule. Check out some resources at the bookstore or online to help you get started.

8.      Practice forgiveness. If you’re unable to forgive, it’s difficult to be at peace. Focusing on old hurts likely gets you worked up. Furthermore, failing to forgive yourself for your own missteps can hold you back from the peace and harmony you desire.

9.      Be focused on solutions. Are you assertive when it comes to solving dilemmas, or do you stick your head in the sand and hope they’ll resolve themselves? Although many of us are great at distracting ourselves from unpleasant situations, this is rarely a good solution.

  • When something is causing you stress, take the time to examine the issue, come up with the best possible solution, and put it into action. Isn’t this much better than hoping for the best?

10.      Choose something to look forward to. It’s challenging to enjoy life if you lack something that excites you when you look at your future. You could choose to highly anticipate a vacation, the birth of a child, or your first book being published.

  • We all need things to look forward to. Create a compelling future.

These 10 habits will serve you well. With a little effort, you might even come up with some additional habits that will be even more effective for your personal situation.

What will help you the most? Think about it.

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”

-Richard Carlson

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