If we can't come up with top 10 ways to manage stress, then our priorities in the area of
self improvement need readjusting.
As somebody who happens to be around a lot of personal development adherents,
I hear enough of this (in varied versions): “There is no such thing as stress". “Stress is
a phantom of our own creation. " I try not to dismiss them as personal development snobs.
Because the fact is I agree with the metaphysical meaning of those statements.
The reality of today's
life however is that people ARE looking for ways to manage stress. If everything were perfect, then
we would surely not manufacture stress because we would be perfect at living the Truth that
"we create our own reality". And who would be stupid enough to create stress? But the truth is, people DO
create stress; Whether knowingly or mindlessly, is a different discussion.
Even if stress serves its own dysfunctional purpose, most people are smart enough
to realize they do not want to be stressed for too long, as
they start to value other things more than the stress they've created. So once you've decided that your stress
needs to be calmed down, what do you turn to? I've outlined what I have discovered, through my own personal used-to-be
chaotic life, and by observing other very proactive stress managers.
My top 10 Ways to Manage Stress
In no particular order:
1. Planning or time management
As the top Personal development teacher Jim Rohn likes to say, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail".
Very few things happen to us by surprise. Most things that end up stressing us could have been
avoided if we'd carefully planned our time well in advance. On paper. Maintaining a daily/weekly planner
sounds unattractive and mundane, but is the best thing you could do to avoid becoming overwhelmed with
workloads. And, this leads us to the next best invention since sliced bread.
2. Outsource, outsource, outsource.
The 4-hour Work Week author Timothy Ferris puts it best, “what is it costing you
financially, emotionally and physically to postpone action? Don't only evaluate the potential
downside of action. It is equally as important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction". I dislike cleaning and organizing my house.
I used to procrastinate doing it, and felt “badly" every time I remembered I was procrastinating that area of my life.
So now I have a friend come over and do it for me. I forgo eating
out at expensive restaurants so I can afford to pay her.
So, what frivolous things are you spending money on (including those shoes
and that jewelry and those boytoys you keep buying) that you could give up in order to pay somebody to do what you hate doing?
Why fill yourself with self-hatred every time you see your unorganized house, your lawn that needed mowing 2 weeks ago, your
bookkeeping that hasn't been touch in 9 months?
3. Eat right
Another of what I use as my top 10 ways to manage stress is feeding my body right: right food, rightly. I'm one
of those hypoglycemic people, so if I allow myself to get too hungry, I'll definitely be too angry. As well, eating the wrong
foods, such as too much refined foods, irritates not only my GI tract, but also my moods.
4. Exercise eg. yoga, running
I aim to do at least an hour a day, 5-6 days a week, in the gym. When I fall off my exercise regimen, especially if I don't
exercise at all for a week or more straight, I feel my stress levels rising. Scientific backing has it that exercising
produces endorphins - brain chemicals that produce overall feelings of euphoria. Exercises such as yoga also help in
causing one to calm the mind, focus internally and become centered.
5. Relaxing music
Instead of blasting the TV with incredibly negative news that skew my view of the world and cause me
even more irritation, I like to sometimes just put on calming relaxing music and let it play in the background.
Every night I tape a comedy show that I know I can watch whenever I need a dose of laughter.
Laughter is our body's built in stress-buster. Laughter has even been documented to
lower blood pressure. In his book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious,
Sigmund Freud describes laughter
as the body's way of safely releasing anxiety, aggression, fear, and anger. Researchers tell
us that laughing decreases stress hormones including adrenaline, cortisol, epinephrine,
dopac, and the growth hormone allowing them to return to normal levels. These stress
hormones constrict blood vessels causing high blood pressure and heart problems.
Most people do not realize that when we stress out, the stress localizes in certain areas of our body.
Next time you feel yourself getting angry, agitated or frustrated, take the time to observe what area of your
body is experiencing the sensation. For most of us, its the neck, shoulder, back etc. Physical stress
will also cause certain areas of our bodies to tense up. An outstanding, professional massage therapist
will easily identify what areas of your body feel tense and tight. They will then be able
to work their magic fingers to help relieve tension in those areas. A good one hour professional massage is a gift I give
myself every couple of weeks.
8. Unwind drive/bike away
Another of my favorite top 10 ways to manage stress is to just get away from it all.
Many people I know will get in the car and just take a drive down the highway, take a bike ride, or even take a weekend country-drive
as a way to de-stress.
Of the most useful top 10 ways to manage stress, meditation is hands down the most effective I've used. Whatever it is
that meditation does to the body, only people who meditate regularly know. Regular meditation, at least 15 minutes twice
a day not only helps me feel extremely happy most of the time, it helps my creative juices flow with ease. I feel incredibly
10. Time out/Nap/Sleep
And the last of my top 10 ways to manage stress. . . . . . . . . . . Go to bed!
I once read from a self improvement teacher that, you want to always rest before you get tired. Well, most of us
don't do it, or feel that we can't afford to do it. But what's worse is that most people won't even rest WHEN they are
stressed out and tired. They just keep on going. But over time they'll get overwhelmed, burned out and perhaps crush and burn.
Taking a time out can be invaluable; whether that is by taking a nap or a long bath, or reading an enjoyable novel, or just giving oneself a
long night of sleep for once. Of course, taking a real vacation is one of the best ways to
get rid of our grouchiness.
For more information on how to manage stress for self improvement, please visit author's free informational website at