It is possible to live a stress-free life with completely natural methods.
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“I’m so stressed” has become such a common saying at this point, that it's almost a cliché. In the ever faster pace of daily life, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli. 24/7 news is always delivering the latest problem or crisis, pressure at work, and social media providing constant standards to compare yourself to. These are just some of the burdens of modern life, so its no wonders people are feeling tense and burned out.
The good news is that even in today’s crazy world, it is possible to live a stress-free life with completely natural methods. All it takes is a little practice and a few minutes a day. I have put together a list of the top five methods that have been repeatedly shown to reduce stress. All you need to do is read and then practice.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years but has recently been getting a lot of attention in the west. In fact, many studies have confirmed the fact that meditation is effective at helping lower blood pressure, easing anxiety, and reducing depression. Since these problems are typically caused by, and related to chronic stress, its no wonder why meditation is one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress.
There are many different styles of meditation out there, but one of the most effective and simple ones is a practice called mindfulness. In a nutshell, mindfulness involves paying attention to everything around you, while not judging anything as good or bad. In particular, focusing on becoming aware of your body, and out of your head.
To start to sit with your legs crossed on a flat surface (if this too uncomfortable, you can sit in a chair) and begin to focus on your breathing. Do not try to control your breath, simply notice it flowing in and out of your body, feel it pass through your nostrils. You will probably notice that your mind quickly wanders, and you find yourself thinking instead of feeling your breath. This is perfectly normal. Simply acknowledge but do not judge the thought, then let it go and return your concentration.
You should aim to meditate for at least ten minutes every day, and the longer you do it the better. Meditation actually rewires your brain, but it takes time. You will always feel relaxed and refreshed after meditating, but you can expect even greater results after two weeks or so of consistent practice. For more information check out this article from mindfulness.org or these mindfulness articles from Spirituality & Health.
If you're really into your phone you may find yourself getting stressed at the thought of being without your phone but trust me it’s worth it! This is one of the single best ways to ease burnout, boost productivity, and tap into your creative side. The negative effects of using your phone too much include sleep problems, FOMO (fear of missing out), anxiety, depression and more. By taking some time off you will feel much better.
A phone cleanse is basically shutting down your phone and locking it in a drawer or somewhere you won't see it for an extended period of time. At a minimum, you should do it for two days and nights, but if you really want to see results I recommend a week. At first, you may go nuts, but you will soon feel the joy of being unattached and free from dependency.
A few helpful tips to ensure you cleanse is successful:
- Have your close friends, family, and works phone numbers written down
- Use your house phone or email to make plans with people ahead of time
- Let everyone who will be affected know what you are doing
- Make sure you have something productive to replace your phone with! This means no sitting in front of the TV or computer binge-watching or scrolling through social media.
- Take this time to reflect on your life, start a new journey, or get that thing you’ve been putting off done.
Phone cleanses are great alone, but they work even better when combined with what’s next!
Get outside and into Nature
Most people spend very little time outside, and even less time in a forest. Our world is filled with fluorescent lights and climate controlled buildings. Many people forget that we didn’t evolve to live in the concrete jungle. Modern urban living can have a lot of negative effects on human physical and mental health, so it's important to change things up.
There is an increasingly large volume of evidence showing that being outside can have measurable benefits for your health. According to New York State University, studies have shown that spending time in a forest can boost your immune system, improve mood, lower stress, increase your ability to focus, improve sleep, and increase energy levels!
At least once a week try to spend a few hours on a hike or visit your local park. If you enjoy camping or can spend a weekend in the mountains even better. If you really want to find your happy place, try spending a weekend camping without your phone. Remember where you came from and learn to let go of your daily worries by spending time there.
Delete Social Media and News Apps
Social media has been a world-changing invention that has had some positive results for many people. Unfortunately, it is also responsible for many problems we are dealing with today. If you find yourself constantly on social media, worrying about what other people are doing, and feeling bad because someone's life looks better than yours, you may benefit from getting off social media.
Maintaining your online life can be a heavy burden to bear, and social media can bring a lot of unnecessary stress to your life. If you're ready for a change then I recommend that you permanently delete some or all of your accounts. This may be hard for a lot of people, so I recommend you start slow. Begin with the accounts you barely use, and gradually work your way up to the ones you spend more time on.
It's important to remember that you need to replace social media with new things as you get off of it. Try joining clubs in real life, or if you really need your digital fix, join or start your own blog! If you are able to get off all social media, you will have the joy of feeling a zen-like piece of being unattached.
Make a Plan
When life's moving at light speed, it can feel difficult to keep your head above water, let alone make a plan for the future. Contrary to popular belief, writing down a solid plan of action for the future can be one of the most freeing things you can do. By putting your goals down on paper and the actions you need to take to get there, you free your brain from a huge cognitive load.
Doing this on a daily basis with task lists that are ranked based on priority is another great way to reduce stress and get stuff done. Instead of worrying in your media about what’s next its all right there on paper for you ranked by importance. Then you just work your way down the list and next thing you know, you're moving forward! The best tool I've ever seen for planning can be purchased at freedommastery.com.
Stress is a common natural bodily function, but when it gets out of control it’s a problem. Today a whopping 77% of Americans feel the physical symptoms of chronic stress, but you don’t have to be one of them. The methods above will not just help you lower stress, they will make you into a better person as well. Don't forget that life is a journey, and you will find what works best for you. Just stick to it!