People who often complain about how stressful their lives are also happen to be the ones who don't prioritize stress management. "I'm too busy," they'll say. Or, "My life is too fast-paced to think about anything else."
While a fast-paced life can be extremely challenging, it isn't the pace of life that determines how high your stress levels are, it's what you do every day to prevent stress from occurring.
The simple solution is to cultivate an anti-stress regimen that you enjoy and can keep up with. Here are some science-backed practices that require very little shift in your daily routine:
This is especially helpful when you find yourself stuck in a stressful environment. If you're in a group participation setting, kindly excuse yourself and step out of the room for some fresh air (preferably somewhere outdoors). Then, close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
Studies have found that the gentle rising and falling of the breath can stimulate parts of the brain responsible for creating a sense of calm tranquility. If you're in a situation where you're unable to step away, do your best to ignore the surrounding chaos and just focus on your breathing.
Even on days when you already feel calm and relaxed, it's important to take breaks and expose yourself to nature. Start practicing this today (perhaps during your lunch break) by asking a friend to step outside for a walk with you.
We hear this advice often because there's so much truth to it! Adding physical activity to your daily routine is a great way to relieve — and prevent — stress. A Harvard study also found that exercising daily may prolong your life by 10 years or more.
If you can't fit 15 to 30 minutes of exercise into your day, make it a point to get up from your chair and walk around or do some stretches in the office.
It's essential to maintain relationships with the people who are important to you — not through email or text, but through a real connection either in person or over the phone.
Science has found that building close connections can strengthen your sense of belonging, increase self-confidence and make you much happier in life.
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to combat stress. Not only can daily meditation help you regulate stress, a number of studies have also found that it can prevent sickness in the long-run.
Other benefits include helping to lower blood pressure and reducing age-related memory loss. I always recommend at least 15 to 20 minutes of meditation, preferably twice a day.
Making stress management a priority is one of the most effective ways improve your overall well-being. Remember, it's a myth that someone can thrive on stress. Science has discovered that low-level chronic stress — and not acute stress (i.e., losing your job or a death in the family) — is the greatest risk to health.
Deepak Chopra is the co-author of "The Healing Self," founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. He also hosts the podcasts Infinite Potential and Daily Breath.
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