“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” ~ Epictetus
“After every stressful situation, we become a little older,” says stress researcher Dr. Hans Selye. “Stressing out” is what happens when we don’t handle stress in a healthy way. Stress and aging are closely related and the more stress you have, the faster your body will age.
So, how do we handle stress in a healthier way? Here are a few tried and true techniques to address unhealthy stress:
If you can’t change it, don’t worry about it. When a situation has passed or is beyond your control, come to terms with it. Remember that you can’t always control situations, but you can control your reactions to them.
Focus on solutions, not problems. The feeling of loss of control can cause the stress to continue so immediately focus on finding a solution to regain a sense of control when a problem happens. By focusing on solutions, you divert your energy from the problem to how to fix it.
Redirect negative thoughts. Program your mind to “take five” and revisit calm, positive images and times instead of letting negative ones get a foothold.
Take a deep breath. Deep relaxing breathing helps balance your hormones and increases oxygen levels which can help calm your body’s response to the stressor. Focus on breathing instead of the stressor, in order to relax and reload to continue your day.
Move to mellow your mind. Exercise works like a prescription mood mellower but without the mood-flattening side effects. As an added perk, research shows that fit people are bothered less by stress biochemically than are more sedentary people.
Surround yourself with upbeat, positive people. Emotions are contagious. Brain researchers use the term “mirroring” to describe how the brain reacts to people who reflect emotions, either positive or negative. Being around happy, uplifting people stimulates your brain to turn on happy emotions.
To relieve stress, sing in the shower (or wherever you prefer)! Music mellows the mind. It’s true! Music opens up the endorphin releasing pathways to the brain and mellows the same parts that control heart rate and blood pressure. Want to boost this effect? Sing along!
What do you need to change in order to be happy or happier?