Six simple ways to reduce stress and anxiety

Living in a fast paced, competitive society with increasing environmental liabilities, we all tend to experience stress. It could be described as accumulation of seemingly overwhelming problems, often from undetected sources. In 21st century terminology, stress could be likened to mental ransomware.

Hidden, undefinable conglomerates of negativity and pressure, which create an uncomfortable state of mind and eventually lead to health risks. Mind and body react to it in different ways. Fatigue, muscle tension, stomach upsets and insomnia are some of the physical symptoms. According to medical publications, continued exposure to stress can contribute to heart disease, obesity, headaches, fatigue and diabetes. Common effects on mood and behaviour include tension, anxiety, irritability, drug- and alcohol abuse, tobacco use and social withdrawal. Doctors, employers, spouses and friends encourage us to manage our stress. According to market prognostics, an estimated $ 14 billion will be spent on fighting stress in the United States this year. A vast array of literature covers the subject and one could spend a lifetime trying out methods and devices to decompress.

Exercise, relaxation techniques, hobbies and socialising are common sense approaches to the subject. Successful elimination of stress does require inspection of where it comes from and how it can be eliminated. Here are six simple things you could do right now, on your own, without spending a penny, to eliminate sources of stress and regain some of your mental energy, focus and drive, simply with a bit of self discipline and a shift of viewpoint.

1. Tune out of “the news”. Stop reading newspapers and news-apps.

Try disconnecting your TV for a while. Incessant promotion of danger, terrifying events and evil deeds, has never helped anyone to do better. It actually can make you sick, by making life look dreadful and eating up your energy resources. Computer games
and online surfing consume time and energy, which one could otherwise spend on one’s actual well-being in real life. Devote your attention and efforts to your own health, interests and endeavours, to your family, friends, co-workers and other areas of life you truly care about. You could gather up considerable positive momentum towards feeling better and happier.

2. Inspect your habits. Do you find yourself spending quite a bit of time thinking about unfortunate incidents and conditions?

Are you easily engaging in gossip about people? Try and cease to feed negativity and undesirable causes with your life energy and interest. Cut the line, and seek to engage in something useful or creative. You can make a difference wherever you turn. Even from a hospital bed, if you cared to. You could tell your nurse she is doing a good job, you could send an encouraging message to your (grand)child for an upcoming
exam, you could remember a friend’s birthday and send good wishes … in other words, you could start caring about your surroundings. You could be making them better just by paying a little attention. As a result your own stress might decrease significantly.

3. Keep negative persons away or at least at arm’s length. Did you ever ask yourself, where the feeling of seeming overwhelmed or pressured comes from?

A great number of people in the world accomplish amazing things for themselves, in their jobs, for others and even for mankind. Who or what is it, that shifts our focus toward failure and hopelessness? Don’t allow a minority of misanthropic persons to hold your thoughts ransom. If you can’t escape, change the subject to a positive topic. Strive to surround yourself with constructive, positive individuals.

4. List out all things, which trouble you. Regardless how big or small, write down a list of what worries you.

After you are done, read carefully through each entry and face these problems one by one. Write out what you could do to handle each of them. Just the action of facing and considering, what could be done about the problem, might ease your mind about it. The decision, whether to actually follow through in action, is still yours. But at least you will have identified the problem. It is no longer an unknown and you applied constructive thoughts to it. And you compartmentalised different areas of discomfort, stress or burden. Viewed separately, they might not seem as threatening or worrisome.

5. Deliver communications you wanted to, or feel you should have given.

You forgot your best friend’s birthday 2 months ago and you still think of it here and there. Pick up a card, acknowledge the fact you forgot, and write your thoughts or wishes. You wanted to discontinue a subscription to a new magazine but never did. It irks you a little. Take it up, communicate your decision, and enjoy having followed through. You feel uncomfortable, every time you remember lonely aunt Milly. Write her a message, e-mail or give her a call (you can decide beforehand how much time you want to spend on it). Stuck attention and energy block our freedom of thought. By taking simple action, these blockades can easily be undone. As a result, we have more capacity of free attention for current matters.

6. Be interested. Interest is the essence of life! Being interested is not hard to do.

Being interested is not hard to do. All it takes is a decision, a few questions and paying attention to the answers. I recently visited family I had not seen for more than a decade. Living in separate continents our actual interaction is usually restricted to calls and messages, the occasional picture sent through Whatsapp, birthday- and Christmas packages. As my visit was limited to 6 days. I was not sure how to do everyone justice. My natural inclination of having an honest interest in any person in front of me, came in very handy. It helped me melt down the barriers of time and distance without effort, made everyone feel important and loved and even sparked creativity. It seemed interest had aligned our positive forces within a very short time span. We all felt rewarded with peace of mind, and rekindled mutual support. Take charge, reconquer your locked up energies and focus on what really matters to you!