Have you ever felt stressed? Of course, everyone has!
Have you ever caught a cold or gotten sick during a period of high stress?
Have you ever felt anxious, irritable, or sad when stressed?
You are not alone.
According to the American Psychological Association, 77% of people in the US regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of stress, 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms and 33%, that’s 1/3 of our country, report being under “extreme stress.”
Why is this important? Because stress quite frankly is killing you. It causes heart attacks and illness, it causes anxiety and depression, it decreases your quality of living and it robs you of reaching your full potential.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to just bombard you with appalling facts on stress, I’m going to give you tools to manage it. By the end of this blog, you should be able to take at least one action step TODAY to help manage your stress levels.
Let’s start by talking about the positivity ratio. What is it? Simply put the positivity ratio is your number of positive experiences compared to your number of negative experiences. Research suggests that it takes approximately three positive experiences to wipe out one negative experience.
Good news though is that there are also three ways you can intervene to increase your positivity, decrease your negativity, and subsequently decrease your stress levels.
First, let’s start with increasing your positivity. These are known as positivity boosters or engaging in activities that bring you positive experiences; this one is easy right? What do you love to do? What do you enjoy? What feeds your soul or your sense of adventure or curiosity? When do you feel the most alive, the most vibrant, the most energy?
Now, allow yourself to do it: But without guilt and without distraction. Don’t put it off. Don’t say it’s not important. Don’t feel like you’re wasting time because it’s fun. Don’t have your work email open while you are doing it or be texting your friends. Be fully present to your work, the work of play.
Let’s move to decreasing your negative experiences. For some people this is a hard one. We all have sources of negativity in our life that we can’t control, perhaps a boss or co-worker, a friend or relative, or even world events. Because there are negative events that happen to you and are out of your control, that is all the more reason to take control of the ones that you can and there are plenty.
Here are some examples of how you can reduce negativity in your life:
· Limit the amount of time you spend with negative people: Be selective about whom you spend your time and your life with.
· Limit the amount of time that you spend watching or reading the news or taking in negative events and information.
· Stop gossiping or making negative comments about others. Refrain from your own negative actions which may hurt or impact others including yourself.
· Choose your words wisely. Positivity is contagious. So, is negativity, which one do you want to spread?
· Choose your environment wisely whenever you can. Prime your environment with sights, sounds, smells, fabrics, etc... that make you feel good.
The third thing that you can do to increase positivity and decrease stress is by taking actions that allow you to absorb your positivity better. These are known as positivity enablers. These are the things that help you soak up the positivity in your life; that when they are absent or out of balance they can limit even the best positivity boosters from taking effect.
Examples of these are:
· Proper rest: Everyone needs the proper balance of work and rest. Rest means both actual proper amounts of sleep as well as proper amounts of silence and relaxation.
· Proper nutrition: Your body knows what it needs, listen to it.
· Proper exercise: Our bodies are meant to move. If you are not moving in some way regularly it has the same effect as taking depressants.
· Time (allow yourself enough time for what you need and don’t overschedule)
Obviously there are many more things that we can add to these three categories. This is just a starting point. Take a look at each of them and add what’s right for you. But here’s my challenge to each of you. Pick just one thing: it can be something that you love to do, it can be a way of avoiding negativity, or it can be an act that enables you to soak in positive events, but pick just one thing and act on it today. Don’t wait. Your quality of life depends on it. Choose to be a Stress Buster. For more scientifically proven tips and tricks like this join me in my Happiness 101 course. You can also sign up for my newsletter here for updates, sales, and announcements.