Easily Reduce Stress to Enjoy Life More

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like there is a giant conspiracy of the gods to make sure you experience as much friction as possible? You don’t get any green lights, all the parking spots you get are at the far end of the lot, even when you are putting on your shoes, your sock picks up some piece of lint from the carpet, and you don’t notice it until later when you are at a place where taking off your shoes and shaking them out would be a bit of an inconvenience. And eve the people you interact with seem to be distracted and just can’t understand what it is that you are trying get across.

When this happens, the best thing to do is just to take a step back, and laugh. Yea, I know sometimes that seems the least popular idea in your mind at the time. The automatic response for some is to pick up whatever is bothering you and fling it across the room, or out the window. I’m reminded of that scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when the hero is having all kinds of problems, and coming down the stairs he puts his hand on the banister, which promptly falls apart. He picks up a section of it, and is about to throw it across the room when he grabs hold of himself, calms himself, and gently places it back down where it belongs.

While it usually does one more harm than good to hurl a piece of broken furniture across the room, keeping your anger bottled up can have deadly effects. High stress is the major cause of many illnesses today in western society, in some form of another. Your doctor may tell you your hypertension is from your smoking or your overeating, but those two are almost always caused by stress.

So if you can’t launch a nearby inanimate object into a low orbit every time you feel some friction or anxiety? What can you do? Planned expression of anger is one way. I’ve heard different takes on this, with different philosophies underneath this, but they all seem to share on thing in common. Find a place where you can be alone (so nobody calls the cops when they see what you are doing!) and find a way that is appropriate for you to let out your anger.

Screaming, banging on your steering wheel, hitting a heavy bag a few nights a week all can help to reduce the stress and anger that has been building up. I tried one method a few years ago that worked fantastic. You get an old tennis racket, and kneel in front of your bed (while nobody is home, of course) and then pound on your bed with the tennis racket while screaming at the top of your lungs a the person or situation that is giving you the most grief. It has a great calming effect. If you have nosy neighbors, this might be troublesome, as they might think you are murdering somebody. You can also go to a park, and bang a tennis racket in to the grass (but be careful about screaming at the top of your lungs, you might scare some kids).

The best way is to get into the habit of laughing at yourself whenever you encounter those situations that might have caused you stress before. Laughter has a proven medical benefit to release stress an anxiety. From a structural standpoint, when you let out a good extended belly laugh, the tightening of the muscles has a calming effect. When you finish laughing, all the muscles of your body move to a relaxed state, loosening the walls of your blood vessels, and effectively lowering your blood pressure in the short term. The more you laugh, the lower you will consistently lower your short-term blood pressure.

Of course, lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking and eating french fries cause a serious long term increase in blood pressure, but by training yourself to find the humor in situations, you will lower your overall stress which may lead to some of these lifestyle behaviors.

Another great exercise is called the rubber band. Whenever you feel yourself getting angry, imagine your body as one giant rubber band, and just go limp. But loosening and relaxing all your muscles, you are sending a message to your brain that all is well, and there is no reason to get upset. The great thing about this exercise is you can practice it by remembering things from your past that caused you anxiety. Just sit in a comfortable chair, or lie back on your bed, and start to bring to mind some situation that really raised your hackles (whatever a hackle is). When you feel yourself getting upset, just switch to imagining yourself as a giant rubber band, and release all thought. The more you practice, the easier this gets, and sooner or later you will be able to do this real time, even when somebody is in your face yelling about some thing that used to concern you. Just rubber band yourself, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the situation.

These are just a few tips to help you to release anger, and reduce stress. Nothing saps your ability to really enjoy life more than stress, anxiety, and anger. The more you practice these techniques, the smoother your life will become.