If you’re dealing with stress and looking for ways to reduce or eliminate unhealthy stress in your life, we’ve got you covered.
Stress is normal. We can even say that stress is required to cause change. Your muscles won’t grow if you don’t stress them through exercise, for example. If you play a game of chess, you’ll stress your brain a bit as you learn to become a better player.
A life without any stress is probably impossible. And even if it were possible, it would be boring as heck!
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Stress is a Spectrum
It’s helpful to think of stress as existing along a spectrum. If you have hardly any stress, you’ll get extreme boredom. Funny enough - that boredom will become a stress that pushes you to make changes.
But what about too much stress? Your life would fall apart. The stress would cause tremendous anxiety, and you’d constantly find yourself automatically responding with the classic anxiety responses of fight, flight or freeze.
The biggest sources of stress for most people are psychological in nature, not physical. The most common stresses are problems with relationships, money, parenting and career.
Remember we said to think about stress as being on a spectrum? You can even think about stress as physical pressure. Because in the world of physics and engineering, stress actually is pressure!
Mechanical stress is defined as a force applied over an area. A high-heeled shoe can poke a hole in a thin floor. But a heavy man can walk across the surface of fresh snow if he wears snowshoes, because they spread out his weight out his weight using snowshoes.
Here are 8 ways to alleviate excess stress in your life
Think about your own life right now. What are the biggest sources of pressure in your life? What problems do you have where the pressure is so great that something might break? Those are the areas you’ll want to focus on.
You might also have problem areas where the pressure, or stress, is medium level and healthy because you’re being motivated away from the stress and towards a better outcome. That’s good. If your level of stress is tolerable and is working for you, there is no need to change it.
We’ve got 8 great strategies you can put to work right now. We’ve included a video for you, along with a short summary of each technique below.
Embed video here.
Hypnosis is a tool, just like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build a house, or you wake up one day and realize you’ve been using that hammer to hit yourself in the head.
People hypnotize themselves all the time, and unfortunately, not on purpose and not realizing the harm it’s doing. You may have hypnotized yourself to believe that nobody loves you, or that you’ll always be overweight, or that you just can’t handle confrontation.
It is really easy to learn how to hypnotize yourself. All it takes is some practise. And then once you’re in trance you can either let your unconscious mind do the work for you, while you relax, or you can use your conscious mind to do some of the work. The easy way to do this is just go into a trance and visualize making the changes that you want to have happen.
If you want a deep dive into this topic, check out our awesome course called Easy Self Hypnosis.
Tense and Release
This is a great strategy to do right before doing self hypnosis. Otherwise it’s a great stand-alone technique you can use anytime you catch yourself holding onto physical stress. It will really help you relax quickly.
The key is to breathe in, tense as many muscles in your body as possible, and hold onto that muscular tension for a few seconds while you begin to exhale. Then, after a few seconds, just let all of the muscle tension go. Imagine a balloon popping. As soon as that pin pricks the balloon, all of the pressure escapes instantly.
Repeat this several times. You’ll find that your level of physical relaxation improves each time you do it.
If you’re around a bunch of people it might look weird to do the tense and release technique. But everyone has to breathe, so 7-11 breathing is a nice technique to do when you don't want anyone to know what you’re doing.
Simply breathe in for a 7 count, and exhale over an 11 count. The exact numbers are not terribly important. Just make sure you’re exhaling for substantially longer than you inhale.
This technique works because exhaling activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps send a signal to your body to calm down. Inhaling activates the sympathetic nervous system, which doesn’t calm you down at all.
You can do 7-11 breathing while in a meeting, while walking, or if you are by yourself and combining it with a self hypnosis session. It’s very easy and effective.
Getting your body moving has a lot of wonderful benefits. Exercise release endorphins, which are often called the “feel good” hormones. Exercise gets you in better physical shape, which will better equip your body to handle stress.
Exercise can also be hypnotic! If you’ve ever gone for a run, or been intensely focused on a sport, you’ve slipped into a hypnotic trance. These kinds of trances are far more useful than the trances of negative self talk or rumination about worries.
If you're interested in a healthier life, you should check out our Wellness Academy.
Focus on Options not Limits
One great way to feel stressed out and anxious is to worry about all of the limits that exist in your life. Your boss won’t let you take vacation for that family wedding? Bothered that there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get things done? If you constantly focus on your limits, you’ll succeed at being super-stressed.
Experiment, instead, with focusing more of your mental energy on the options that you do have in life. Think about all the aspects of your environment that you do control. There’s probably a lot more within your control than you realize, and focusing on options is very freeing.
Most of us probably need to hear this. We spend too much time being upset about things that are not the way we want them to be. This is fine, if just to notice what you actually do want and get after it. But if we get stuck in a “complainer mode” we will feel a growing sense of stress.
Instead, focus more energy on being grateful for what you do have in your life. What people are you grateful for? What opportunities are you grateful for? What about your environment? There are loads of things we can be grateful for at any moment.
If you find yourself stressed simply stop, spend a few minutes consciously identifying things you're grateful for. It helps.
Being in the present is much better than an obsession over the past or the future. Sure, we all have to do business with the past, and we all have to plan our futures. But if we spend too much of our day thinking about those past or future events, we miss out on this thing called life.
The life you’re living is the here and now. It only exists in the present. If you catch yourself thinking about a past event or future situation and you’re stressed out or anxious … simply stop and spend a moment being mindful about what’s actually happening right now.
Combine this with gratitude for bonus points. You’ll immediately feel better.
Laugh on purpose!
In 1933 a hypnotist and professor named Clark Hull said, “Anything that assumes trance causes trance”. In other words, if you want to hypnotize somebody you can also just have them do things that assume they are already in a trance.
We’ve put this into a category that we now call cause and effect loops. You probably understand what cause and effect mean. X causes Y, right? Heat can cause a fire. Exercise can cause hunger. Jokes cause laughter.
And of course … laughter causes you to feel amazing!
But a cause and effect loop means that the cause can also be the effect, and the effect can also be the cause.
Have you ever thought about how celebrities often start dating right after they star in a romantic role with each other? The process of acting as if they’re in love with each other actually causes those feelings to become real.
This brings us to the idea of laughter. When we are in a great mood it’s natural to laugh and have a great time, right? We can do it backwards. We can laugh on purpose. By doing this, we send all the right signals to our brain that we are in a great mood. The result? We end up feeling amazing.
It only takes a few seconds to do. But you must laugh as though you mean it! When you do this do it for real. Laugh as though you’ve just heard the funniest joke of your life.
You may look a bit silly if you do this in public. But honestly … who cares?
Watch this Youtube video we made to see how it's done: