12 Ways to Eliminate or Reduce Your Stress Now

Written by Raymond Salas

Do you feel stressed on a daily or regular basis?

Do problems in one or more areas of your life feel overwhelming to you?

Are you unable to relax and enjoy your life fully?

12 Ways to Eliminate or Reduce Your Stress Now

Here's some proven ways for eliminating or reducing stress and truly enjoying life more every day:

- Focus on the present.

Whenever we focus and dwell on the past, especially the challenges and problems; or project about the future, including all the things that could go wrong and other worst-case scenarios, the beauty of the present is tainted, minimized or lost.

The solution: do your best to keep your focus on the present. See this moment as new, a fresh start. Try to adopt a “beginner’s mind,” as if you are experiencing this moment for the very first time...because you are!

- Focus on solutions.

If you’re facing problems, focus on possible solutions instead.

No matter what the problem or challenge is, it has been overcome by someone. Use these individuals as guides...as inspirations, and learn from them to help solve your own problems. After all, they've already been there. They know. So, follow their lead and example.

Then, do all that you can from where you are and let go of the rest.

- Tell yourself a different story.

Tell a different story, a story of what you truly want and stop telling the story of what you don’t want (e.g. complaining, blaming, worrying, etc.).

Whatever you focus on will expand in your consciousness and life. So, if you keep playing the “All The Ways My Life Sucks” program over and over in your mind, thoughts, speech, and actions, your life will mirror this. It has to. It has no choice. Energy flows where attention goes.

If you want something different, you must shift your focus, be willing to see things differently and do things differently, and stop complaining.

- Focus on one thing at a time.

When you have many things to do on your “to-do” list, it can be overwhelming and demotivating.

Here's what helped me the most to reduce stress and actually become more productive (and happier too):
“Toss productivity advice out the window. Most of it is well-meaning, but the advice is wrong for a simple reason: it’s meant to squeeze the most productivity out of every day, instead of making your days better. I now focus on one or two things to do each day, and (if) when I get them done, my day is golden. Everything else I do that day is gravy.” - Leo Babauta

- Don’t take things personally.

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz advises: “Don’t take anything personally.”

When we take things personally, we create unnecessary stress in our life.
“If you take it personally and take on the poison of another’s words, it becomes a very negative agreement you have with yourself. What anybody thinks about you, or says about you, is really about them. Not taking it personally allows you to be in relationship with anyone and not get trapped in their stuff.” - Don Miguel Ruiz

- Stop trying to control everything.

The decision to stop trying to control everything (e.g., people, circumstances, situations, etc.) is really just a decision to let go of the illusion of control because the truth is that we can’t ever really control anyone or anything outside of us. We only fool ourselves into believing that we can. It’s not true. It is a myth.

The only thing thing we can control is how we respond and focus our attention in the present moment. That’s it. Nothing more...yet we still try.
“When you think you control something, you’re wrong. It’s amazing how often we think we’re in control of something when really we aren’t. Control is an illusion...” - Leo Babauta

- Meditate.

In the 1970’s, a Harvard physician Herbert Benson developed a meditation technique called “the relaxation response.” Dr. Benson found that meditation creates a deep relaxation within us that decreases breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure. When practiced on a daily basis, it can reduce stress, enhance mood, and lower blood pressure.

- Breathe deeply.

I learned the importance of breathing deeply when I had a full-blown panic attack, just after I graduated from college and found myself away in a new town with a new job.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know that it can feel like you’re having a heart attack. You have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, chest pain, and other stress symptoms.

Unknown to me at the time, with the stress of a new job, new city, and new residence, my breathing pattern had changed subtly and become shallow over time. This eventually resulted in a panic attack.

The doctor who treated me told me that I could prevent this in the future by taking several slow, deep breaths (from the belly) whenever I began to experience any of these symptoms again.

Since then, I have developed a daily habit of pausing several times during the day to take several slow, deep belly breaths. It always energizes me, clears my head, relieves stress, keeps me balanced, and improves my mood and focus.

- Genuinely smile more.

The benefits of genuinely smiling include relieving stress, positively changing our mood, boosting our immune system, and lowering our blood pressure.
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.” - Dr. Mark Stibich

- Exercise.

You might be thinking: “Yes, I know that exercise is good for you. But who has the time?”

I hear you. My response is to keep it simple. You don’t need to undertake a big exercise program, join a gym, or get a trainer. Just walk.

Many studies have proven the powerful benefits of walking.

A Harvard study showed that walking at a moderate or brisk pace for 30 minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease by 40% in women and comparably in men.

So, get moving. What are you waiting for?

- Spend time in nature.

There are numerous therapeutic benefits to spending time in nature.

Being outdoors has always been an elixir for me. Whenever I go for a hike in nature or sit by the beach or read quietly in the park, I always feel so much better afterwards.
“In a series of studies, scientists found that when people swap their concrete confines for a few hours in more natural surroundings -- forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees -- they experience increased immune function. Stress reduction is one factor. But scientists also chalk it up to phytonicides, the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects and which also seem to benefit humans.” - Anahad O’Connor (N.Y. Times)

- Find a way to be happy now.

If you took only one idea from this article on eliminating or reducing stress, it would be this: find a way to be happy now.

Take tiny steps if you must, but keep moving in the direction towards feeling good. And, if you don’t know what direction that is, then simply ask yourself: “What would bring me the greatest peace of mind now?” and go in that direction. Take the path of least resistance.
“While situations, encounters or events may seem intrinsically ‘stressful,’ it is truly how an individual perceives and reacts to an event that determines whether or not the stress response is activated.” - Institute of HeartMath