How to Reduce StressCan't stop stressing over life? Stop worrying—because it's a major waste of energy. Here's how to teach your brain to cope better with stress when it happens so you can start feeling like yourself again.
Chronic stress does more physical damage than a bucket of Big Macs. Stress speeds up the aging process, raises our blood pressure and increases our risk of strokes. Now how are you feeling? More stressed? Stressed that you're stressing over stress?
Calm down! Because it's a major waste of energy. Studies show that 85% of the stuff we worry about have positive or neutral outcomes. And here’s more good news: You can teach your brain to cope better with stress when it does occur.
Lower Stress by Savoring
Our brains are wired to absorb negative experiences far more than positive ones, so it's up to us to find ways to prolong our positive experiences. One way to do this is through savoring. Take a few extra minutes to truly enjoy a meal or a snack you would normally rush through, closing your eyes to intensify the experience. Be mindful: Does the scent add to its flavor? What does the texture feel like in your mouth? Over time, practicing savoring allows you to slow down and appreciate whatever you're doing in the moment, instead of concentrating on your thoughts and worries.
Stop Stress by Reframing Your Thoughts
One of the most effective ways to combat negative thoughts resulting from an unpleasant experience is to consciously challenge them by coming up with alternate explanations for what caused the event—an idea taken from cognitive therapy. Think about one particularly pesky issues that's been stressing you out this week. Instead of getting bogged down by it, reframe it—come up with three ways it could actually benefit you in some way. Why could this stressful situation actually be a good problem to have? Will it make you stronger/wiser/more flexible in the long run?
Reduce Stress by Getting Back to Nature
Science shows that spending time in nature reduces stress and helps people feel more energetic and alive. And you don't need to live next door to a national forest to reap the benefits: Try squeezing in some "green" time during your day—get up 20 minutes earlier so you can walk (another great stress reliever!) around your neighborhood, meditate or even just eat your sandwich on a bench outdoors during your lunch break, or go for a stroll at the local park with your dog.
Learn How to Reduce Stress with Happify's Science-Based Activities
For more strategies for dealing with stress, plus personalized activities, games, and quizzes that will teach you how to apply these skills to your daily life, sign up for Happify's "Cope Better with Stress" track. Based on cutting-edge research from the science of happiness, you'll learn how to reduce the stress in your life and develop your happiness skills at the same time.
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