One of the hardest things about living during a pandemic and times of social distancing is the lack of human connection. The fact is that human brains are wired to connect. We need other people to fully enjoy life. And that sense of human connection definitely lowers stress.
Even introverts need human connection. If you’re doubting how “wired” we are to each other, consider this: Both laughter and bad moods are contagious. Yawn in front of someone and watch what happens. This occurs because of what neuroscientists call “mirror neurons.”
When we realize that even trivial interactions can affect a person’s physiology, we have to take it more seriously. For example, scientists can now show by brain imaging and other … >>>
No one can escape the aging process. But aging does not need to be stressful! The key is to move every day and stay as strong for as long as you can. Remember, the human body is designed for movement, and muscles are not meant to be inactive. Aging is no excuse to stop moving!
Just like any other muscle, your heart functions best when challenged. Walk, swim, jog, use a treadmill, stair climbing machine, or some other weight-bearing movement in order to include moderate cardiovascular conditioning in your daily program. Aerobic exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure, and keeps the arteries more flexible. In addition, aerobic exercise is one of the best approaches for handling stress. … >>>
During times of crisis, maintaining healthy relationships is more important than ever. But due to social distancing and more people working from home, it’s common for relationships to get strained. They say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but it also opens the door to misunderstandings and tension. Whether it’s with a family member, co-worker, or friend, every relationship is prone to stress during times of crisis and separation.
Rather than let these negative times ruin your once healthy relationships, a better approach is to shift from being reactive to proactive.
Make a Shift for Healthy Relationships
When you feel offended by someone’s words or deeds (and you will at some point), consider viewing the situation in multiple ways. … >>>
Your ability to truly listen to others is critical for building relationships and reducing stress. The reason is simple: The better you’re able to listen, the more the other person knows you care. When that sense of caring is present in a relationship, you and the other person experience less stress when you interact.
Unfortunately, few people know how to really listen. Have you ever talked to someone and noticed that they were not listening to you? How did it prompt you to feel? Disrespected? Unimportant? Angry? These are normal reactions. This is why listening is so important.
The key to listening is to be attentive. Don’t let your mind drift while the other person is talking. If your attention … >>>
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out, it’s true – well sort of. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being that reduces the negative effects of stress. In other words, laughter makes you feel good.
Additionally, the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. As such, laughter helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook in difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. And this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
Here are a few suggestions to add humor and laughter to your life:
When the body and mind are stressed, sleep can seem elusive. It’s all too easy to allow the stressors of the day to disrupt your sleep pattern. Either you can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep because your mind is racing, reliving the events of the day and struggling to find solutions to your problems.
Unfortunately, not getting enough sound sleep affects mood and has long-term health consequences. Chronic disruption of sleep patterns is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease and a number of other health issues including an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes; weakened immunity and an increased tendency to get sick; weakened cognitive function including memory, alertness, and decision-making; increased impulsiveness, risk-taking, and addictive behavior; eating more; … >>>
During times of stress, getting enough exercise is of utmost importance. Research shows that staying fit through exercise can actually reduce the production of stress hormones. Think of exercise as the ultimate stress reducer.
While physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, you don’t have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension, and frustration. Not only does exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good, but it can also serve as a valuable time-out from your daily cares.
The world today is more stressful than ever, and many people are searching for ways to reduce stress. Fortunately, one of the best stress-reducing techniques is something you can easily do on your own, and it requires no special tools. It’s a simple as engaging in deep breathing.
In fact, research is mounting that a powerful technique for stress relief is deep breathing. Just as the name implies, it’s about breathing slowly and deeply, as this reduces anxiety, controls blood pressure, improves heart rate, makes arteries more flexible, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system that reduces the body’s fight-flight-freeze response to danger and stress.
Breathing is ordinarily an involuntary act, but it is the only function through which you can … >>>
When you’re living in times of uncertainty and stress, it’s important to embrace kindness. This means being kind both to others and to yourself. It’s normal that when under stress, people have “short fuses.” Little things can quickly spiral out of control as negativity prevails. The good news is that you can help lessen the effects of the current situation’s turmoil in one simple way: Embrace Kindness.
As a youth I developed this attitude of kindness that I still use to this day. I make it a habit to choose to be kind to not only others, but also to myself. I learned at an early age that I was not perfect, that I made mistakes, and that sometimes I … >>>
The conversations you have with yourself form your perceptions and can help control your stress. In fact, we can make a good case that your self-talk creates your reality and your level of stress. Stress is related to perceiving the world as manageable or unmanageable, and this is directly related to your mindset.
Mindsets are perceptions, attitudes, dispositions, intentions, and inclinations that emanate from our experiences and filter our thoughts that form the lenses through which we see the world and our lives.
Perceptions are as important as reality. In fact, perceptions can be your reality. To reduce and control your stress it is critical to understand that so often it is not the event but the perception of the … >>>
We know that when we suffer from continual stress, choices seem limited. As a result, our effectiveness decreases. Behavioral scientists have a name for this psychological reaction: learned helplessness.
Scientists have studied this phenomenon in laboratory rodents. The nervous system of mice bears striking similarities to that of humans. Here is how one experiment works. If you provide mice with an escape route, they typically learn very quickly how to avoid a mild electrical shock that occurs a few seconds after they hear a tone. But if the escape route is blocked whenever the tone is sounded, and new shocks occur, the mice will eventually stop trying to run away. Later, even after the escape route is available, the animals … >>>
No matter what the situation, you always have a choice and can choose your thoughts. These choices are a significant factor in determining your life. The sooner you become aware of this, the less stress you’ll experience.
Realize that regardless of a situation that cannot be changed, regardless of a stimulation that prompts emotions to erupt, and regardless of an urge or impulse, you always have the power and freedom to choose your thoughts and how to respond. The ability is referred to as choice-response thinking
Learning choice-response thinking—that you need not be a victim—may be one of the most valuable thinking patterns you can develop.
The Power of Choice
Choice empowers. Choice, control, and responsibility are so woven together … >>>
Here is an important concept for all to remember regarding strong relationships: Not losing is more important than winning.
People’s desires will not always be fulfilled. However, as long as others are aware that they have a choice as to their responses, they are not put in a position where they feel that they lose. It’s that feeling of losing that prompts negative feelings. This is why “not losing” is a key to strong relationships.
No one likes feeling cornered, literally or figuratively. The belief of not having a choice encourages resistance because it prompts a feeling of being trapped. When a person feels there are no options, the result is not only resistance but also resentment. By contrast, offering … >>>
Visualization is a key to success. Did you know that your brain is so powerful that even your imagination can propel you to your goals? The fact is that the images you visualize in your mind impact your reality. Knowing this, what images are you focusing on? Are they positive, and propelling you to success? Or are they negative, and holding you back from accomplishing everything you want in life?
French psychiatrist and philosopher Pierre Janet pioneered guided imagery, AKA “visualization,” in the 1890s. It developed from the discovery that a person’s imagination can affect his or her inner state of being. Certain images stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to experience feelings of calm and well-being.
People do better when they feel good—not when they feel bad. This is a simple fact of life.
When your guide your thoughts and others’ thoughts to focus on the positive and constructive, then the self is nourished and enriched. That’s when people feel good.
Andrew Carnegie, the first great industrialist in America, understood this concept well. At one point he had 43 millionaires working for him. A reporter asked him how he managed to hire all of those millionaires. He responded that none of them was a millionaire when he hired them. The reporter inquired, “Then what did you do to pay them enough money so that they became millionaires?” Carnegie responded that you develop people the same way … >>>
Disagreement between people causes stress; there’s no doubt about it. Whether the disagreement is large or small, it can quickly ruin a relationship.
Sometimes, even for small matters, the disagreement escalates to the point of verbal fighting. Once that occurs, the stress levels of both parties will be high, and agreement will be elusive. Fortunately, you always have a choice in how you handle a situation.
Chances are you can tell when a disagreement is escalating. This is when you must take control and direct the conversation. Rather than letting a disagreement get out of hand, you can reduce stress by doing the following.
Say to the other person, “I don’t want to win. I just want to understand what … >>>
The dictionary defines appreciation as the recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things. When was the last time you felt truly appreciated at work or at home? When was the last time you genuinely showed your appreciation for others? Is showing appreciation really that important?
One of the founding fathers of modern psychology, Dr. William James, spent his professional life studying human behavior. He wanted to know what made people tick, and he wanted to know what brought out their best. He wrote a number of books on these subjects.
Near the end of his life, he was in hospital and received a plant from a friend. Dr. James wrote a note of thanks for … >>>
Many people often make the mistake of thinking that because downtime is fun and relaxing that it’s frivolous or unproductive and not important.
Social scientists have found that recreational activity is as important as sleep is to our physical and mental health. Downtime isn’t a diversion; it is a vital aspect for a person’s well-being and for effective learning.
Think about your most recent vacation or extended weekend where you didn’t work and actually relaxed. While you probably didn’t want your break to end, when you went back to work, how was your mindset? How was your attitude? What was your productivity like?
If you’re like most people, you likely found that even a short break gave you renewed focus, … >>>
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