Hunt for Happiness Week: Stress-Manage Your Way To Happiness

by Pamela Gail Johnson on January 22, 2013

Elizabeth Scott, author of the about to be released 8 Keys to Stress Management and About.com’s Stress Management writer is today’s guest blogger.

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.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

A C Harper January 23, 2013 at 5:25 am

If you find work stressful, try walking to work. Perhaps get off the bus a few stops early. Park your car a mile from work. Take ‘the long way’ from the station.

If you can walk for half an hour or so before starting work you give yourself the chance to settle and balance your mind ready for the day.

If you can walk for half an hour or so after work you can decompress and avoid taking work stress home with you.

If you can walk through parks or alongside rivers, canals, lakes, or sea shore, so much the better.

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Christine L January 23, 2013 at 5:56 am

I like to do random acts of kindness (like tape a baggie of exact change on the coke machine at work) but not tell anyone about these acts. Keeping this “secret” makes the happiness last so much longer!

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Elizabeth Scott January 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

What a great idea, Christine! I love random acts of kindness (and studies show that they provide a real boost to the giver as well as the recipients), and this is one I hadn’t thought of (though I have been known to feed random parking meters if they’re running low). I may just try this, too! Thanks for sharing.
Elizabeth Scott recently posted…Why Now Is The Time To Get Organized!My Profile

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Pam Harris January 23, 2013 at 9:08 am

I take the long way home, avoiding the interstates altogether. Most traffic races to the interstate to get home quickly, causing more road rage than one can imagine. I prefer to drive at 35-45 mph through the older parts of town that are quite lovely during each and every season. I might also add this keeps me in touch with new businesses and restaurants that are always popping up within our city. A very relaxing drive, happiness at it’s best.

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Elizabeth Scott January 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I love this idea. I’m a big fan of listening to music or audiobooks to keep things interesting in the car, but changing the scenery on the outside sounds like a wonderful alternative to stop-and-go. Next time I do this, I’ll think of you!
Elizabeth Scott recently posted…Why Now Is The Time To Get Organized!My Profile

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Mary E January 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I love the idea of thinking of saying “no” as saying “yes” to something else. That also means I don’t get so stressed when others say “no” to me — I realize they, too, are saying “yes” to something.

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Robert Farrell January 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm

For me, the secret of life is to be in my Purpose, to do the work I have been created to do. For each of us, it is different, but when I am writing or encouraging others, I am happy. The other secret is to be grateful no matter what is happening.

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Kerry January 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I walk my dog to manage stress. Even on days like today when it’s 5°F he gets me outside. It almost always helps me find my center and calm.

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Susan Ward January 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I especially love dance fitness classes, such as Zumba. Nothing beats stress like being able to leap around and play. I guess this one falls into the category of doing what you loved as a child, Elizabeth!
Susan Ward recently posted…Step 2 of Starting a Small Business: The Business PlanMy Profile

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Shirley Blanton January 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I sing while soaking in a tub of flowered water with candles and a glass of wine.

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Anne January 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I love the idea of saying no in order to say yes to something else, too. I recently read a quote that basically says “confidence is knowing what to say yes to and what to say no to”. I am on a confidence kick right now so I think it would de-stress me to master this technique. Also – exercise. I love exercise.
Anne recently posted…The Ole Gray Mare Ain’t What She Used To BeMy Profile

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Sally Burton January 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I like to walk as much as possible, and just look around me at the world in all its’ loveliness.

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Susan January 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I agree with Susan Ward that exercise is key, but my personal favorite is any type of water exercise. The water gives you a gentle massage, and the pool is a more pleasant setting than the gym, for me at least. You can do Zumba, Pilates, yoga, weight work and stretching in the water just as you can on land.
Susan recently posted…Grand Photo of the Week: Wedding GiftMy Profile

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Sharon Litz January 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I think everyone should have an anti-stress plan. I’m newly unemployed and am learning new ways to combat new stresses. Random acts of kindness to my elderly neighbors take me a long way! :)

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Elizabeth Scott January 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Great ideas and great attitudes here!
Elizabeth Scott recently posted…Why Now Is The Time To Get Organized!My Profile

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Leanne Feltrin January 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

we all have different ways to manage stress; perhaps coping is a better term than managing…how do i cope with the stress of daily life? when i figure it out, i’ll let you know….peace, love & happiness to all…maybe the most important thing is to try to put things into perspective and think “will this be a big deal in a year, or 10 years from now”…life is short, be happy!

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Robin January 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I love just say no. We often go throughout life on autopilot and say yes instantly. You shared some great insight on how to manage our stress level and maintain happiness.
Robin recently posted…The Cost of the Yes HabitMy Profile

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Debby Hastings January 24, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I’m delighted to hear about your book, Elizabeth. I have been a regular reader of your blog for a couple of years now, and have learned so much! I always pass on what I learn to my refugee students studying English here in Malaysia. I love your light, positive energy. It’s very encouraging and non-judgmental, and helps us to be the same way with ourselves. Keep up the great work!

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Aimee Hagedorn January 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

I have two things I like to do when stressed: first, I have a “stress about it later” box that sits at the top of my closet. I write down whatever is stressing me out on tiny pieces of paper, deposit it into the box, and store the box away. Nine times out if ten I never go back to the box, but the action of putting the stress somewhere helps a lot. My second go-to is very simple. Bubble. Bath. Works every time.

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Jean Yves January 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Oooh I just missed the drawing :-) Great article by the way, very informative and straight to the point. I personally perform a 5 to 10 min session of deep breathing when I get home everyday. It works well with me and evacuates the days stress.
Jean Yves recently posted…The Remarkable Health Benefits of Deep BreathingMy Profile

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Alessandra February 2, 2013 at 8:37 am

Laugh a lot! That’s right! As they say, laughter is the best medicine and it is beneficial to ones health too!

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Rose Good February 7, 2013 at 7:23 am

Hello
Super post – thank you for great tips. I have one additional stress relief tip that I would like to share. Sometimes people around us are the ones that generate stress. One way to lower your stress level is staying away from those people with negative influences.
Some people always talks about their own problems and load you with their own worries – stay away from those people (at least temporarily). Another group of people are those who always say they are better than you – again, stay away from these kind of people.
If you want to lower your own stress levels, surround yourself with positive people who have faith in you. These people make you feel better about yourself and make you a happier person.
Best Regards
Rose Good
Rose Good recently posted…Instant Calm – 7 Fast & Fun Ways to Lower Stress InstantlyMy Profile

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