how to reduce stress

The Smart Person’s Guide On How To Reduce Stress

When you are stressed,you are not being productive.

It’s simple and you already know about it. The big question is not of the above statement is true but how to reduce stress.

How to reduce stress in this ultra-fast, overly-communicated society that we live in? How to reduce stress when you feel like you need to be “on” 24/7 jumping from task to task, from email to email, from meeting to meeting?

Here are 4 bullet-proof techniques you can put to use today to start reducing your stress levels:

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A stressed person is not a productive person.

When you’re stressed, regardless of the reason, you cannot be productive because you concentrate so much of your energy and attention on whatever is stressing you that you cannot get the job done. Stress is one of the unhealthiest emotions that can lead to severe health or mental problems. To put it bluntly, you need to reduce your stress levels on a daily basis.

But how do you reduce stress in our super-busy, ultra-connected society? How do you find the balance between, “hey, I need to get the job done, but also I need to not stress out”?

Continue reading to learn four separate techniques that are going to answer the “how to reduce stress” question.

how to reduce stress

1. Immerse Yourself In the Task

Also known as single tasking (the polar opposite of multitasking).

Instead of trying to rush through every task, so you can get to the next one, immerse yourself in the task at hand. Forget that there are other tasks. There’s always going to be another one so you’ll never get to a finish line. Accept this fact of life and don’t rush through your day.

If you are writing, or playing the violin, or preparing for the next presentation, let that be the only task you are doing at the moment. Give it all your attention and all your energy. Don’t try to think about what’s next, what’s for lunch of anything else. It’s just you and your task.

Once you get into the practice of singletasking you are going to reduce your stress levels by a lot. If you rush through your day, or try to multitask, you are going to be in a constant state of anxiety because you are never going to run out of tasks to do. This small dose of daily anxiety piles up overtime leading to major spikes in your stress.

By singletasking through your day you are also going to have a feeling of accomplishment because you dedicated yourself to each task. If you rush through your day, even if you get a lot done, you might still not feel satisfied and that is not a good feeling to have, especially after a long day of hard work.

One task, all your attention, all your energy = less stress.

“Successful By Design Lab” Member Extra

Access your “The 50-10-50-30 Strategy” video lesson in Successful By Design Lab.  

A big part of stress-reduction is learning how to sustain your focus and your energy high throughout the day, so you don’t get exhausted. The 50-10-50-30 strategy allows you to do just that.

Click here to access this 24-minute video.

Not a Lab member? Click here to learn more about SBD Lab.

2. Forgive People

Start forgiving people on a regular basis.

It sounds a little bit “out there”, but if you sit down and examine where your stress comes from you’ll come to the conclusion that so much of it comes from other people.

You can do an excellent job controlling your own environment, but when you’re driving down the road, going to your office, dancing to the radio, being happy and excited, and then somebody cuts you off you have two choices:

  1. “Oh my god, I can’t believe this [insert your favorite expletive] cut me off… arrrgh!”
  2. “This person must be having a real emergency, let me get out of his way so he can get where he need to go faster”

Most of times, you would go with #1, right? The one that proves the worst possible scenario for you. The one that stresses you out. It’s almost an automatic reaction. You cannot help it. You get cut off, you stress yourself out.

What if you forgave that person right then and there?

What if you can find it within you to forgive that guy that spilled his coffee on your new bag, or that nasty customer service rep on the phone?

Nasty and rude people are always going to exist. They are out there, you meet them every day. There is not too much you can do about them, other than forgive them, be the bigger person and don’t stress yourself out over their negativity.

You cannot control the outside world, but you can control what it means to you.

Easier said, than done, right?

Here’s a no-nonsense technique you can use to start forgiving people quickly and easily.

How To Learn To Forgive People

Whenever you come across a rude person or someone who stresses you out, imagine that they are having a real-life emergency.

That jerk that cut you off on the way to work becomes a mom whose kid is choking on the back seat and she is rushing to the ER.

That unhelpful customer service rep that brushed you off becomes a caring son who needed to finish work early to go visit his sick grandma.

You are a nice person who wants to help. If you rewrite the situation in your own mind so you feel bad for the other person (even if they are being rude to you), you’ll find it much easier to forgive them. Once you do, you won’t stress about them or the situation any more. Multiply this by the 10s of times you stress about people on a weekly basis and you see how this technique alone can reduce your stress dramatically.

The reality is that you really don’t know what’s going on in that person’s life so you might as well come up with a version that serves you, not one that stresses you out.

Try it out the next time you have a chance. You’ll walk away a different person.

3. Take Regular Breaks

There are two types of breaks you should be taking on a regular basis:

1) After every work period of 45 – 50 minutes

Work for 45 minutes (on a single task) and then take a mandatory break of 10 minutes.

Get up from your desk and walk around, or if you work standing, sit down. Stretch. Disconnect from the task physically and mentally.

Take those little breaks even if you don’t “feel” like you need them. Sometimes you get caught up in the moment and go without a break for hours at a time. It might seem productive, but it really isn’t. Your concentration cannot last for such long periods of  time, not to mention that your energy might take a drop as well.

The best way to incorporate these little breaks in your daily schedule is to use a timer. When you sit down to work, set it for 45 – 50 minutes and when the buzzer rings you know it’s time for a break. This way you don’t need to look at the clock all the time and you also cannot get caught up and forget to take a breather.

2) When you feel stressed out

As soon as you catch the stress peaking over your shoulder, drop everything and take a breather. Even if you are in the middle of a task, or conversation. Take a break.

Stress creeps up on you quite fast and unexpectedly. If you ignore the warning signs thinking that you just need 10 minutes to finish what you are doing, you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you reach an impasse and you feel your stress levels spiking, pause and take a break. Clear your mind, reduce the stress and only then come back to your task.

Regular breaks and taking a breather when you feel like you are going to get stressed out are two key techniques you can use to lower your stress levels.

4. Be Mindful

Mindfulness has a big stigma around it. Some people believe in it, some people are “what on earth is this?”

If you mediate on a regular basis, you already know how powerful it is. If you don’t, or you are skeptical about it, try this:

How straight is your back right now?

Chance are that as you read this you improved your posture, even if it was just a little bit. This is the power of mindfulness.

In its basic form it is nothing more than being aware of your body, your emotions and your breath.

When you stress out, your body tenses up, your emotions go on the negative side and your breath gets faster and more shallow. Knowing that, you can use it to destress yourself:

  • As soon as you start feeling stressed, notice the state of your body. If it is getting tensed, try opening up. Get up, walk around, stretch and you’ll start feeling more relaxed.
  • Notice your emotions. Are you getting unmotivated or sad? Catch yourself in the act and reverse it. Watch a motivational video, read a funny story, laugh out loud and your stress will slowly fade away.
  • How is your breath when you get stressed? Try taking 5 – 10 deep breaths and you’ll notice how you get more relaxed.

Use these try techniques in combination and you have your very own stress-destroyer!

But it all starts with being mindful. If you are unaware of your body, emotions and breath, it’s hard to notice the signs of stress so you can quickly overcome it. Be mindful. Get into the habit of asking yourself throughout the day “what’s my state?” and evaluate the 3 points. If you see that one of them is not the way it should be, that might be an early indicator of you starting to stress. Now that you know, you can do something about it using your stress-destruction techniques.

Tip: if you are new to mindfulness, I highly recommend checking out this book.

Over To You Now

Four simple techniques that you can put to use right now:

how to reduce stress

Immerse yourself in a single task, don’t rush through it. Forgive people, always think that they’re in an emergency. Take regular breaks, or as soon as you catch yourself being stressed, drop everything, take a break. Be mindful of your body, of your breath and of your emotions.

They’re not going to completely eliminate your stress, but they’re going to give you a great base to build on. Do them regularly and de-stress yourself.

Question: what are some other ways to reduce stress? Answer by leaving a comment below:

“Successful By Design Lab” Member Extra

Access your “The 50-10-50-30 Strategy” video lesson in Successful By Design Lab.  

A big part of stress-reduction is learning how to sustain your focus and your energy high throughout the day, so you don’t get exhausted. The 50-10-50-30 strategy allows you to do just that.

Click here to access this 24-minute video.

Not a Lab member? Click here to learn more about SBD Lab.