Rising stress levels are damaging our mental and physical health, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America: Coping With Change survey. Here are five easy ways to spring clean emotional clutter and reduce stress:
- Find and release “trapped emotions”: Unresolved emotions from negative and traumatic life experiences are responsible for guiding (or misguiding) our choices on a daily basis. For example, if you have a trapped emotion of anger from a past event, you’ll be more likely to become angry when future situations arise that may upset you. Becoming aware of and acknowledging feelings that lurk beneath the surface is an important first step.
- Listen to Your Body (and Say “No” When Necessary): You shouldn’t volunteer to take on additional tasks if it interferes with your health, your family or your stress level – it won’t be worth it.
- Exercise Daily: Too busy to work out? Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your routine. Find a way to work exercise into your daily chores. Challenge yourself to get the whole house cleaned in half the normal time, and you’ll work up a sweat with all the scrubbing and running from room to room.
- Eat Right: When you go out to eat with friends, come prepared with stories to tell so you’re talking more and – as a result – eating more slowly. Eat your salad first so you fill up on live food instead of the sugary and fattening stuff and processed foods. Remember your body’s needs and respect them.
- Take a Breather: If you find people you are with are making you feel stressed out, go outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air.
Ask yourself if you’re overreacting. Recognize your own feelings and analyze what the other person meant to say. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt – it’s likely no offense was meant. If you aren’t sure, ask for clarification, then respond appropriately, with kindness, with love, and with forgiveness if you can. Some people really don’t have a handle on their behavior, but it doesn’t have to affect how you feel. It doesn’t have to be your problem.
By Dr. Bradley Nelson