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7 Steps to Reduce Stress

7 Steps to Reduce Stress

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We are all running around all day long. We are exposed to various stressors all the time. We have our children to take care of, we have to get ready to go to work, jump in the car, drive on the freeway. Call people, get ready to that staff meeting, prepare reports, visit clients, get the children back from school, prepare the dinner, and so on.

Stress is always related to our body reactions to events that we perceive as harmful or distressful. Stressors can be internal (related to our body and physiology) or external (related to the environment). We all respond different to different stressors. For example: two people need to take the same exam. One can feel very stressed about it while the second person is feeling calm and relaxed.
Stress lead to aggression and it is very important for us to acknowledge when we are getting stressed so we are able to stop the cycle immediately in the beginning.
Self-care is very important because it gives us the balance we need to recover from all the stress we are exposed to. My clients come to me with all sort of confusion on how they are feeling and thinking about the difficulties in their lives most of the time because they don’t stop a little to take care of themselves. Here are 7 steps to help you to reduce stress in your life.

1. Eat well

Eating well is very important to keep our body healthy and prepared to deal with the stress of our daily lives. The body needs the appropriate nutrients for us to be balanced and have the ideal health. What are we eating? It is very important to chose the amount of food and nutrition properties. I love the chosemyplate.org website because it shows how we can have control of our diet. We can have important information about nutrition and how we can manage and control what to eat to improve our health. There we can have a good idea of the amount of each food group we need daily.

2. Avoid alcohol and drugs

Most of the time when people are stressed they tend to seek comfort in alcohol and/or drugs to relief the tension. In fact it happens because we look for a way to forget whatever is leading us to feel tense. Studies have shown that stress is a major contributor to the continuation or initiation of Alcohol and drugs use. What happens is that when we use alcohol and/or drugs to get rid of our stress we are sabotaging ourselves and the effect of the alcohol pass we will get worse than before.

3. Meditate

Research has shown that even 20 minutes of meditation/relaxation everyday can reduce stress and improve our health. When we learn to meditate in a consistent basis, our brain learns how to enter in a more relaxed state even when we start thinking about taking a deep breath. Relaxation becomes automatic and when a stressful situation presents to us, we immediately enter in a relaxed state and are able to manage the stress much better than we used to do before. Seeking for a group that practices meditation can be a good start.

4. Exercise

It is known that exercise is a powerful ingredient to maintain health. Most of the time when I talk to my clients about exercising they tell me that they feel bored when exercising. I always suggest them to look for something that they like to do. There are several ways of exercising, and like studying, I believe each person has his/her own way of exercising that will be stimulating and exciting that probably is different from others. I love to dance and I found this place where I can attend several different kinds for dancing classes throughout the week and have my exercising done. It is exciting, invigorating, and I have a lot of fun! Find what you like to do. Go online and search for something that makes you excited about doing. Play Tennis, Volleyball, soccer or any other sport. Maybe it is hiking and you can find groups throughout the city that are passionate about hiking. Find the activity you want to do and go for it!

5. Changing that conversation with yourself

How are you talking to yourself? Most of the time we become anxious or depressed because of what we are talking to ourselves about. Paying attention to our thoughts and challenging distorted thinking is a fundamental step to reduce stress and stop anxiety. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one of the most common techniques used to help clients with anxiety and depression. It is not easy to change our patterns of thinking and for this reason, it is very beneficial for us to seek professional help. Keeping a journal with a record of your thoughts, and feelings can help you to identify self-defeating thoughts and substitute them to more realistic ones. When you take notes of what you are thinking you are able to analyze the thoughts and understand how that thought is affecting you. Then you can challenge the thought and come up with something that is much more realistic and healthy. It will help you to change some core beliefs that are probably holding you back in your life and contributing for your anxiety.

6. Take time out

Get a few minutes everyday to do whatever comes to your mind. Cherish yourself, give your inner child a big hug and make this child feels happy! Maybe you can go out and do your nails, or your hair or you can go for a walk connecting yourself to the nature, read a book, or simply listen to a good music. Try to schedule at least 30 min a day for your time out and enjoy!

7. Laugh, laugh, laugh

Laughing is one of the most important ingredients here. Get a comedy movie or go to a comedy show, and give yourself a good hour and a half of laughing. Studies have shown that when you laugh your immune system improves, your blood flows easily, and you can sleep better.

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12304 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 213
Los Angeles, CA, 90025
(310) 600-0159
cristina@westlacounselingcenter.com

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