She’s kindly giving away a copy of 8 Keys to Stress Management when it’s released in March so if you’d like one make a comment and you’ll be entered into the drawing. All comments need to be in by January 26, 2013.
Traffic. Deadlines. Unmet needs. We all experience stress in our lives, and most of us have more than we’d like. While not all stress is bad—some stress, like the stress that comes from working toward a goal that we find exhilarating, can be good for us—too much of any type of stress can take a toll on health and happiness. Sometimes we can become so stressed in our lives that we forget to be happy—or we forget how to be happy. Therefore, an important part of finding happiness is losing the stress, or rather, losing some of it and learning how to better manage what remains.
Many of our best stress management techniques can, in themselves, bring quiet feelings of peace. Meditation can help you to detach from your problems, even from your reactions to your problems, and become more resilient to stress over time. Exercise can do the same thing, but in a much more physically active way, and can bring added fitness benefits as well. Breathing exercises are a quick and effective way to calm your body and relax your mind.
But many people don’t find themselves excited to go to the gym…or to just sit. (Okay, we’re all pretty much addicted to breathing, but we don’t always remember to, or want to, make an exercise out of it.) How about a few stress relief activities that are fun to do, and will bring happiness in the process? You got it! Here’s what I recommend to take some stress off of your shoulders and replace it with a smile on your face:
Laugh with a friend. We all may instinctively feel that talking to a good friend is helpful with stress and can make us happy, and research backs this up as well. Talking to a friend about your problems can be therapeutic; moving past the stress talk and getting into a place where you’re joking and laughing can replace the stress with joy and help you forget what you were stressed about in the first place. Regardless of what you talk about, be sure you’re calling the right friend for the job, and also be sure you reciprocate when they need you.
Express gratitude. Studies also show that expressing gratitude, either through writing in a gratitude journal, feeling the feelings in your own mind, or writing and sharing a detailed letter with someone you appreciate, can all bring greater feelings of happiness that can last. What a great way to focus away from stress!
Sing, dance, and play. Most of us love it when we find ourselves in situations where we’re singing along to music or dancing, or expressing our playful side. This usually happens at parties, weddings, or holidays designated for such activities. Why wait? Why not just take the fun, happy-inducing part of the experience, and add it to your life whenever you want? Turn on your favorite songs and move; sing in the shower, your car, or wherever the mood strikes you. (I don’t sing well, so I’m partial to whistling.) Draw, jump rope, or do whatever you loved to do as a child. You don’t need an occasion.
Just say “no.” Some of us have a hard time saying ‘no’ because we don’t like to disappoint people. But when we have so many obligations crowding our schedules that we can’t do the things we truly want to do, we are still disappointing someone—ourselves! Start thinking of each ‘no’ as a ‘yes’ to something better, and it gets easier to say—fun, even! If you’re too busy for happiness, make time with a few well-placed ‘no’s.
For more fun and effective ways to relieve stress and get happy (as well as a few less-fun but super-effective strategies like those I mentioned initially), visit my blog or get my book, 8 Keys to Stress Management.