Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life.
We all know that stress isn’t the best for us, messing with our sleep, moods and wellbeing – but you can transform its relationship with you. Stress doesn’t have to be all bad, and let’s be honest, if you want to achieve great things, it’s inevitable.
There are plenty of proven ways that we can reduce our stress, and actually harness it for better productivity. Harvard research has shown that you can choose to see stress as a challenge or an obstacle. Reframing stress in a more positive way has been proven to increase productivity and the processing power of your brain.
So how do we manage stress and change its affect on us? Check out our tips and strategies below backed by the latest research in positive psychology, mindfulness and neuroscience.
Get Into Your Body: 1 Minute Reset
Stress creates tension in the body. Try this mindfulness exercise out to release it. Take your time. You can do this with your eyes closed once you know each step. Firstly, sit up straight on your chair and let go of anything that you’re holding onto…
1. Take 3 deep breaths – this turns on the relaxation response.
2. Soften your gaze and loosen your jaw.
3. Let your shoulders drop.
4. Take your left ear to your left shoulder and feel the stretch – count to 5.
5. Take your right ear to your right shoulder and feel the neck loosening – count to 5.
6. Fold your arms and close yourself into a ball, taking the chin to chest.
7. Open your arms out wide, pull your shoulders back and lift your chin slightly.
8. Repeat 6 & 7.
9. Take 3 deep breaths with the eyes closed.
Try this at your desk when you’re feeling tense or stuck in your head – it will help bring you back into your body. This can be done as many times as you need during the day.
Music: The ultimate stress-quencher
At The Indigo Project, we’re obsessed with music’s effect on the mind. We’ve created a Spotify playlist for you if you’re feeling a little tense. Research shows that music can reduce anxiety, stress, lower blood pressure and decrease heart rate. Whether you listen to it with your eyes closed or have it on in the background, it’s designed to help you feel that little bit more chill.
10 simple ways to manage your stress
Listen to some chill music
Pleasing music has been show to lower cortisol production – a stress hormone.
Open up and express how you feel
Don’t bottle things up!
Get more sleep
Everything feels worse when you’re tired.
“A challenge not an obstacle”
Try thinking of your stressor this way. Research shows that mindset matters.
Move your body
Get some exercise, it releases endorphins to help you feel good.
Are you holding on to too much crap?
Check your diet
How many coffees are you having each day?
Learn how to say no
Take it easy with the people pleasing and taking too much on.
Cull the drainers
You know what we mean. Say sayonara to the people who are holding you back.
Deep breaths in and out the nose.
This activates the relaxation response.
Did You Know?
Interesting Stress Research
Secondhand stress is a thing.
We can pick up stress from people around us. Researchers Howard Friedman and Ronald Riggio from the University of California, Riverside found that if someone in your visual field is anxious, there’s a good chance you’ll feel it too, negatively impacting your brain’s performance. Observing someone who is stressed — especially family or a coworker — can have an immediate effect upon our own nervous system. Secondhand stress is more contagious from a romantic partner than a stranger.
You can also smell stress.
New research shows that stress causes people to sweat special stress hormones, which are picked up by the olfactory senses of others. Your brain can even detect whether the “alarm pheromones” were released due to low stress or high stress.
Stress is not all bad – it’s about mindset.
A study conducted with Yale researchers, found that if they could get someone to change their mindset around stress (to see it as a challenge instead of a threat), they had 23% fewer stress-related symptoms like headaches, backaches and fatigue. The stress was still there but the effect upon the body was completely changed. Stress is inevitable but its effects on us are not.
Give this a read
The Happiness Advantage – SHAWN ACHOR
From Shawn Achor: “We’ve been taught that if we work hard, we will be successful, and then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, get a raise, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: happiness fuels success, not the other way around.” The Happiness Trap is a mind-blowing read into how we’ve been doing the “pursuit of happiness” thing wrong. Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive, effective and successful. A must-read for everyone trying to shift their mindset, step things up in life and deal with workloads, balance and stress.