8 steps to feeling happier, healthier, and less stressed out

Women laughing work
Don’t let stress undermine you. Gvahim/Flickr

While it’s healthy to have some stress in your life, too much can be detrimental to your career and well-being.

Although it’s not possible to completely eliminate all stress, wellness coach Elizabeth Scott details in her book “8 Keys to Stress Management” how you can lower your stress levels.

She highlights eight steps that build off each other and can help you feel happier, healthier, and less stressed out.

title=”1. Become aware of your stressors.”
content=”A stressor is ‘a situation that causes us to need to act and that can trigger our body’s stress response,’ Scott writes. It’s important to identify them individually, since as stress levels rise, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the root causes.

Work is one of the most commonly cited stressors, Scott writes, often due to:

— Unclear requirements
— Unattainable demands
— Low recognition
— High penalties for mistakes
— Lack of challenge”
source=”Flickr/Giuseppe Milo”
caption=”Understand what makes you upset.”
title=”2. Learn to quickly reverse your stress response.”
content=”Stress becomes a problem when our body’s ‘stress response is activated for a prolonged period of time, without the body’s returning to its relaxed state.’ Therefore, it’s important to figure out ways to deal with stress.

Scott suggests trying relaxation breathing, in which you simply find a quiet place to sit and focus on your breathing for a while. ‘The act of consciously releasing the tension in the body and forcing our breathing to mimic the more relaxed breathing that our body enacts at a resting state can help to reverse the body’s triggered stress response and thus help to physically relax,’ she writes.”
source=”Flickr/Jonathan Grado”
caption=”Find a way to turn your stress around.”
title=”3. Take care of your body.”
content=”Living a healthy lifestyle is critical for both your physical and mental health. Maintaining healthy eating, exercise, and sleep habits makes a huge difference.

Even small improvements to your diet, workout routine, or sleep schedule can make a big difference, Scott writes, in the sense that habits work off of each other and ‘one change makes all the other changes come more easily.'”
source=”Wikimedia Commons”
caption=”Exercise is crucial.”
title=”4. Get into the right frame of mind.”
content=”‘We can control our responses to circumstances, even when the circumstances themselves are beyond our control,’ Scott writes. ‘In doing so, we can greatly lessen our negative experience of stress.’

It’s all about having a positive attitude. For example, it’s better to avoid the all-or-nothing mindset: Rather than say, ‘This is the worst day ever,’ say, ‘Today was a bad day,’ she advises.”
source=”Flying Kiwi Tours / Flickr”
caption=”Certain activities may lead to a better mindset.”
title=”5. Cut down on stressors with systems and better time management.”
content=”Put systems in place to minimise stress, Scott says. ‘In virtually all areas of life, it helps to plan ahead — and these plans need not be complicated,’ she writes.

Keep your desk orderly, use to-do lists, and be proactive about starting challenging projects early. Use your lunch break to de-stress by taking a brisk walk, meditating, and reflecting on the things you’re grateful for.”
source=”Joann Kim via Flickr ”
caption=”Keep yourself organised.”
title=”6. Avoid toxic people.”
content=”‘Most of us know at least one person who takes the wind out of our sails,’ Scott writes. These toxic people, generally described as critical, unfriendly, judgmental, and filled with complaints, can bring you down with them.

Toxic relationships are one of the biggest stressors, she says. That’s why it’s important to identify this person(s) and establish boundaries. ‘Don’t allow yourself to be sucked in. You can be polite, and still simply avoid them as much as possible, and cut out the stress they bring as a result,’ she writes.”
source=”Amanda Wood/Flickr”
caption=”Don’t let them drag you down.”
title=”8. Practice long-term resilience-forming habits.”
content=”Scott lists meditation, exercise, and journaling as three of the best habits for building resilience. The stress-relieving benefits that come with these are accumulated over time and can have a significant long-term impact, Scott writes.”
source=”Flickr/Pedro Ribeiro Simões”
caption=”Journaling helps build resilience.”