For 30 days, GPS for the Soul and meQuilibrium are providing you tips on how to live a healthier, happier and stress-free life. See the previous stress tips here.
The world is full of fascinating people — and our social connections with those people can help us relieve our worries and anxiety. You’d be amazed what can happen when you tap into the power of humanity, whether it’s expressing a random act of kindness for a stranger or forgiving a friend for their mistakes. Check out this week’s five stress tips below for more on how connecting to others, ourselves and our surroundings can release negativity.
Stress Tips: Week 4
The one thing we could all use more of is face time (that’s real face-to-face time, not video calls from your iPad!). An endless number of things — like your phone buzzing, your to-do list or what you’re going to make for the kids’ lunches tomorrow — distract you from the person sitting right in front of you. The irony here is the more you try to do at once in the name of multitasking, the more frazzled, ineffective and out of touch with your surroundings you become.
Attempting to do more in every moment isn’t the way to manage stress. Instead, put your phone away and try giving your undivided attention to one person today. Practice resisting your urge to interrupt them and pause for a moment before responding to allow their thoughts to sink in. You’ll find that you have a clearer head and, likely, a better mood. When done right, truly listening strengthens your focus muscle — and the more focused you can be on the task at hand, in this case a conversation, the better you’ll feel and the more productive you’ll be.
Read more about how giving your undivided attention reduces stress.
Juggling everything is exhausting — and it weakens your connection to purpose. When you let busyness (and ensuing stress) consume you, you max out your mental resources long before you’ve lived up to your potential. But busyness is a fact of life, so how do you step away from the constant clamor without everything going up in flames? You do that by maintaining quiet, focused time for yourself in which to reflect, recharge and let your mind wander — and guarding that precious time like it’s your job.
It takes courage and discipline to “do nothing,” but it’s vital. Without the freedom to daydream, you fail to stoke the flames of your hopes and dreams — the very things that can keep you going. Your job in life isn’t just to clean up the bad. You need time to pay attention to the good. Schedule a 20-minute block of time today to let your body and mind go off the grid. This is not the time to solve problems directly, but to brainstorm, think out of the box, imagine. You owe yourself that much.
Read more about how doing nothing makes you a better leader.
You don’t have to be a hoarder to hit some resistance when getting rid of your stuff — even if you never wear it or don’t need it. The extra yoga mat you never use, the boots you never wear or the magazines you never read — time to give them the old heave-ho. They’re not just taking up valuable real estate, they’re quite possibly making you more stressed and less productive. How can you align your daily actions with your big life goals if you’re always wading through the chaos?
To begin clutter-clearing in your home or office, do a walk-through. Start from your bed, or the door of your office, and follow the typical route through the room. Where do you get slowed down? What gets in your way? Take note and sort, store or give those things away. Then, take 10 minutes and do the same for the piles of paperwork you’ve been meaning to sort through. Sure, you’ll recoil at first, but follow through and you’ll feel a tremendous weight lifted.
Read more on how to de-clutter not just your space, but your brain.
Cultivating empathy and connection is a critical component of stress management, yet far too many people dismiss it as unimportant compared to getting this or that done. Fact is, research shows that people who are more connected in life report greater life satisfaction and show much greater resilience, meaning that they bounce back from adversity more quickly and easily.
The trouble is, when stress rises, empathy wanes, the Wall Street Journal reported. That means when stress hormones increase, you literally have less ability to empathize with someone else’s joy or pain — especially if that person is a stranger. The good news is that boosting empathy isn’t rocket science, nor does it have to take up a lot of time. A brief, empathetic interaction will work wonders. Ask someone out to coffee today, your treat. Practice listening with no other agenda. You’ll get a refreshing and much-needed break in your day, connect with someone in a meaningful way, nurture your own network and help build your resilience more than you realize.
Read more about how to boost empathy.
It’s natural to feel angry when you’ve been hurt, but holding a grudge? That’s no good. As they say, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. But this is more than a metaphor; a grudge can have potent physical effects. A study published in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science found that grudge-holders who focused on their negative feelings couldn’t perform tasks as well as participants who had forgiven their wrongdoers.
Instead of seeing forgiveness as letting someone “off the hook,” see it as freeing yourself. Tune your inner radar to the possible positive in the situation. To start, pick one person who hurt you whom you haven’t forgiven and ask yourself what you’ve gained by not doing so. Are you happier? Freer? More at peace? We’re guessing not. You don’t need an apology from that person, either. Recognize that forgiving isn’t conditional — it’s your decision to let go of a heavy weight so that you can lighten your inner load.
Read more on forgiveness.
–Posted by Lindsay Holmes
Learn more useful information about stress and your health! Order meQuilibrium’s new book, meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier, co-authored by meQuilibrium CEO Jan Bruce, Adam Perlman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, and Andrew Shatté, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer.