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12 Ways to Reduce Stress

As the holidays approach, stress seems to accelerate. Here are twelve ways to stay calm any time of year.
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Image of very tired businesswoman or student with her face on keyboard of laptop   Note to inspector: the image is pre-Sept 1 2009
Image of very tired businesswoman or student with her face on keyboard of laptop Note to inspector: the image is pre-Sept 1 2009

As the holidays approach, stress seems to accelerate. Here are twelve ways to stay calm any time of year.

1. Be thankful
There is something to be thankful for in every minute of every day whether it's the warm sun, a phone call from a friend or just another day of living. When you make a list of everything great in your life, your one problem may not seem so terrible. A good practice is to mentally make your gratitude list every night before going to sleep.

2. Have a diversion
Stress can be overwhelming, and it seems the more you think about it, the worse it gets. Focus on something or someone else, and you'll give yourself a break from your problems. Play a game with your child. Go on a walk. Cook dinner. All of these will take your mind off your problems, and may open up opportunities to see things in a different light or find solutions.

3. Call a friend
Friends can help you feel better. It's that simple. They're the best therapy you'll ever have. Reach out to friends or family and let them know what you're going through. You'll feel less alone, and a kind word or two will cheer you up.

4. Laugh
Laughter is as much of an emotional release as crying, particularly when we can laugh at ourselves. There's always humor to be found in any situation as long as you're willing to look for it. Give yourself permission to laugh, even when times are tough. Watch a funny TV show or movie.

5. Treat Yourself
Take a break from your stress to do something that relaxes you or makes you happy. Maybe it's eating a piece of dark chocolate, taking a hot bath or having a cup of tea. Treat yourself with love and compassion because you are deserving of both.

6. Meditate or Pray
Meditation and prayer allows you to connect to a higher power. Meditating could be as simple as focusing on your breath or repeating a peaceful mantra. It's whatever helps you to relax and be in the present moment. For some people, prayer accomplishes this.

7. Eat right and exercise
Often when you're stressed, you end up overeating or eating the wrong types of foods. This actually puts more stress on your body. Eat nutritious whole foods and enjoy your meals slowly. Also, exercise is extremely important in reducing stress because when you exercise, your body releases chemicals that actually make you feel better.

8. Forgive
You can't predict or know what someone else's lessons in life are, and therefore, it's best not to hold a grudge against them if they hurt you. It's also best to forgive yourself too. Once you forgive yourself and others, you can let go of the pain, guilt, anger and past, and live in the present with a clean slate and a light heart.

9. Slow Down
Speed equals stress! Try to eat slower, drive slower, talk slower and think slower. You'll be a lot healthier and decisions will come a lot easier.

10. Listen to Music
Music can change your mood and stress level in an instant. Soothing music can relax you, and music that makes you feel good can take your mind off your problems.

11. Write
If you can't turn off stressful thoughts in your mind, write down what's bothering you. By writing it down, it takes these thoughts out of your mind and outside yourself. It's also a good practice to keep a notepad by your bedside and write down anything that's keeping you from sleep.

12. Surrender Control
There are going to be lots of situations in life you can't control. In those cases, you must surrender to whatever life or a higher power has planned for you. Every experience in life is a lesson.

Finally, remember that no matter what challenge or stressful situation you might be facing, nothing ever stays the same. It too shall pass.