Reduce Your Stress and Increase Your Happiness

Did you know that stress is a major factor in your overall well-being? In fact, stress is becoming such a problem with our health that it is now being called the number-one proxy killer disease. And how could it not be? Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the ill-effects stress has on our health and well-being, 75-80 percent of us are still dealing with the fatigue, headaches, hypertension, weight gain, weakened immune systems, muscle tension, anger, anxiety, depression and impaired sex drives that stress causes.

I can personally attest to this issue. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder as a teenager. It has been a life long struggle and has prevented me on so many occasions from achieving my goals. I am the queen of negative thoughts and it has taken a toll on my quality of life. That is why fitness is such an important part of my life. But outside of fitness, I have also learned that my frame of mind and attitude play just as big of a role in my happiness. If you find yourself having to deal with lots of stress, then do yourself a favor and try these 5 tips to see just how powerful reducing stress can be for your overall happiness and well-being.

1. Be grateful. Say “thank you” as often as you can. It’s a brain train that’ll create the positive neural pathways to promote happiness. Focus on what can go right, not wrong, and be thankful when it does. This may seem foolish but your attitude has a massive impact on your ability to achieve goals. Think “The little engine that could.”

2. Unplug. Instead of being swamped by social media, take control of it. USC’s Marshall School of Business claims that by 2015, the average person will spend 16 hours plugged into this burnout and stress-promoting new form of crack. Schedule it into your day instead of letting it run you. I know this is true for me. If I am having a day that I just cannot get anything done I often find myself mindlessly thumbing through my phone looking for something to make me feel better. But it never does. I have learned that putting the phone down and going for a walk, or simply sitting outside and taking in all the wonderful sounds of nature make me feel so much better. Give it a try and see if you agree.

3. Meditate. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology reported that 54 percent of participants felt anxious while meditating. If chanting isn’t your thing, break up your chain of negative thoughts with another repetitive, present-focused, mind-body activity such as jogging, swimming or interval training, or slow, relaxation breathing. Praying can help, too.

4. Be joyful. SMILE! Create positive emotions, spend time fully engaged in an enjoyable task, build and savor healthy relationships (instead of feeding off of other’s stress), find meaning that’s bigger than you in life and feel genuine pride in your accomplishments.

5. Have positive thoughts. THINKING about tomorrow in hopeful ways and DOING something differently is what clears away the stress-inducing cobwebs of irrational thinking. Are your thoughts true, helpful, inspirational and necessary, or are you negative about yourself, others and your life in general? We move in the direction of our dominant thoughts, so changing those dominant thoughts to more positive ones prevents and manages stress. Choose the bliss that’s right in front of you.


Smiling more

Thinking accurately

Reliving positive experiences

Eating well

Sweating more

Stepping away (whatever it is that is causing you to stress will be easier to deal with when you came back with a better frame of mind)

*adapted from Michael Mantell‘s “Fit Life-Ways to Manage Stress”

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