There’s a lot of talk about stress these days. People feel anxious and overwhelmed by all kinds of stress, from financial worries to relationship issues to world events. 

Chronic stress is the problem – stressful feelings that won’t go away but stay with you daily.

Chronic stress interferes with your ability to be happy. Although you can feel happier by thinking about being happy and being more optimistic, it won’t last if you’re stressed out every day. 

Chronic stress also drains your energy and disrupts your body’s ability to fight disease, which is why stress is associated with chronic illness.  

Instead of using valuable energy to stay happy and healthy, that precious store of limited energy is exhausted by worry and stress.    

Although you can’t eliminate stress completely because it’s a part of life, you can reduce it with these steps.

Use exercise to release endorphins 

Physical activity, especially cardio, boosts endorphins, the chemicals your brain uses to make you feel good, reducing stress. 

High-intensity exercise is especially potent because this type of physical exertion requires you to focus on your body and effort, which effectively distracts your mind from stressful situations. Instead of wasting your physical and emotional energy on worries and stress, you’re refocusing your energy on physical activity, drastically lowering your stress levels. 

Use physical activity not just for your physical health but for your emotional health, too. Exercise is a powerful stress-reducing strategy. 

Take inspired action on the stress-inducing situation

Here’s a thought, instead of expending emotional energy worrying about the stressful situation, why not address it instead? If you’ve been procrastinating, stop by finding thirty minutes or an hour or two and get moving! Less important activities can wait.

If the source is relational or financial, give yourself the gift of 30 minutes to think about the situation(s). Have a piece of paper and a pen. Breathe deeply to relax your mind, body, and nervous system. During these precious moments of reflection, capture actions that appear in your mind that would start addressing the situation effectively. Is there someone you need to call? A letter you need to write? What’s one thing you can do within the next twenty-four hours to start dealing with your most stressful situation? 

Schedule time for yourself daily 

Take 15 to 20 minutes for yourself each day when you won’t be interrupted to relax your nervous system and clear your mind. It can be early morning, in a secluded place at work, or before bed. Listen for answers, solutions, and directions regarding dealing with whatever worries you and what you can do to reduce the overwhelming stress you’ve been struggling with. Take time to breathe and be grateful; let these quiet moments fill your heart and mind with peace and certainty. And if you’re a person of faith, pray. 

You will never completely get rid of stress, nor would you want to because stress can be a positive motivator. Yes, you’ll feel stressed from time to time as long as you’re alive. Remind yourself that you have what it takes to get through this because you’ve gotten through it before. You’re still here! By using these three powerful techniques for reducing stress, you’ll feel happier, have more energy, and feel more empowered. So replace worry and stress with self-leadership and happiness. 

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

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