There is a term the Japanese use for death caused by extreme stress. It’s called karoshi and it is a real phenomenon. It literally translates to death mainly from heart attack and stroke from the stress of being overworked.
Stress literally can kill if left unmanaged and uncontrolled. If that still seems far-fetched to you, minimizing stress is also important to reduce depression, anxiety and disease. Maybe most importantly though, stress robs you of your happiness.
If you are under constant stress, it’s time to seriously evaluate how to reduce your stress and reclaim your happiness.
Here are 10 real ways to stop stress and reclaim your happiness.
1. Start with food.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth starting with food. Your food can directly impact your cortisol production. Be sure not to skip meals as this increases your cortisol. Likewise, it’s worth looking into Dr. Alan Christianson’s book, The Adrenal Reset Diet. There is excellent food advice in there.
Likewise, you should eat the most nutrient-dense and healthy foods possible. Avoid packaged foods, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and grains. These types of foods cause major stress on the body without providing nourishment and contribute to depression, anxiety and irritability.
Maximum nutrition through your diet is proven to help the body cope better with stress. Even small deficiencies can cause anxiety symptoms.
2. Make a choice.
In any situation, you can choose to go about it with full stress or with less stress. In the moment, you can make a choice to say – this is not going to cause me great stress. We often get caught up in things rather than doing them with greater joy. Make a commitment to choose happiness more throughout your day and you will see your stress melt away dramatically. When problems arise, tell yourself there is always a solution.
3. Don’t try to do it all.
You don’t have to do everything and be everything. It is much better to focus on balancing your life and minimizing stress than trying to get more done, especially if it’s not realistic. Where can you cut? Choose what you need and want to do and be done with the rest.
4. Practice mindful breathing.
Breathing has been shown to be incredibly effective at reducing stress. Throughout your day, take time to stop and breathe slowly and deeply. If you think you’ll forget, set an alarm to remind yourself. This can work wonders. Likewise, while you are engaged in any activity, you can practice breathing more slowly and mindfully.
When appropriate breathing and making a sighing sound as you exhale can be helpful for releasing tension. Box breathing is where you breath in, hold, exhale and hold it again for equal counts. Box breathing calms the nerves and relieves stress. Many athletes train by using box breathing.
5. Get a grip over your schedule and your time.
Scheduling is something that is often partially within your control. Much of this point has to do with simplifying and minimizing the amount of activities you put on your schedule, but it also involves scheduling smart.
Cluster similar activities and activities in the same geographic area. Carve out time where you purposefully have nothing to do. Leave space so that if unexpected events transpire, your day or your week is not ruined. Next, remember to be flexible in rearranging events. This is part of life.
As for your time, get up 15 minutes early in the morning to allow yourself some extra space. Allow yourself extra time around all your scheduled events including extra time to get to and from places. This alone can do a lot for relieving the stress of rushing.
Get the most important and necessary things for your day done right away. That way, no matter what transpires, these things are done.
Keep lists of what you need to do so that you don’t have to keep track of things in your mind.
Lastly, do your tasks one thing at a time at a time rather than multitasking. Rather, focus your attention on what you are doing in the present moment.
6. Take time to be grateful.
Gratitude can quickly ease your stress by putting things in perspective and reduce how stressful something feels.
7. Moving your body is critical.
Also known as exercising, moving your body regularly has a plethora of benefits one of which is stress reduction. Walking, yoga and even interval training are all known to help alleviate stress. Avoid excessive exercise if you are under stress. Running increases cortisol, so it may not be the best choice, but that is up to you. Some people find running to be great stress relief.
8. Allow yourself time to relax.
Give yourself time each day to do nothing. Literally nothing. You can use this time to breathe, stare or simply sit. The important point is to do nothing. Turn off the telephone and have some quiet time.
9. Plan ahead.
Anticipate problems before they occur. Keep up on the things you need to do. For example, keep up with your car maintenance. Keep food on hand for busy nights. Keep extra toiletries and supplies on hand so you don’t run out. Planning ahead is a great help in reducing stress.
10. Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is the key to physical and emotional health. Figure out how much sleep your body requires to function optimally. Sleep deprivation causes an inordinate amount of stress on the body. Sleep is critical to stress reduction. We simply cannot function properly without adequate sleep. Humans need a very minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night but 8 or even 9 hours is better. Find out what your body needs and make this one area where you don’t skimp.