Practical Ways to De-Stress

Over the past year I've learned that stress is not only unnecessary, but that being happy and stress-free actually lends to a more successful career and personal life.
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Man and his dog walking on the beach
Man and his dog walking on the beach

Whether you're young or old, a student or a CEO, you've probably dealt with stress at one time or another. Stress seems to be one of those things that has become so common that people accept it as just a part of life. But if you ask me -- it doesn't have to be!

I used to struggle with stress pretty badly. From my college years into my first few years as a young professional, I almost felt as though I was being irresponsible if I didn't feel stressed out. Over the past year, though, I've learned that stress is not only unnecessary, but that being happy and stress-free actually lends to a more successful career and personal life.

Some people swear by the power of positive thinking when it comes to de-stressing, but I think that sometimes that's easier said than done. Instead, I've found that implementing certain realistic tools and activities is the best way to stop stress in its tracks.

Here are my eight practical ways to de-stress.

1) Take a walk.
A lot of the time, simply changing your environment can help you put aside whatever stress you may be feeling. Even just a 5- to 10-minute walk to relax and refocus your energy can do the trick.

2) Meet up with a friend.
Talking to someone (even if it's not about what's giving you stress) is another great way to refocus your thoughts and take you down off the ledge. Getting a good laugh in can do wonders too!

3) Write it down.
If you're anything like me, most of the time I don't even know what it is that's giving me stress. When I sit down with a pen and paper, though, I can organize my thoughts and realize exactly what's bothering me. That realization alone can help the situation become less daunting and can instantly lessen stress.

4) Try breathing exercises.
The simple act of taking a few minutes to just breathe is one of the best ways to relax when you're feeling stressed out. Try some of these easy stress-relief breathing techniques.

5) Stress eat... the healthy way.
No, I'm not suggesting downing a pint of Ben & Jerry's. But did you know that what you eat can actually help control your stress levels? Check out these seven foods that fight stress.

6) Make a de-stress playlist.
For me, music is a great tool to help me relax and take the edge off of a stressful day. I suggest putting together a playlist of your favorite happy and/or mellow songs and make it your go-to for when you feel stress creeping in.

7) Do something mindless.

Sometimes all it takes to de-stress is to let your mind chill out for a bit. Give yourself some time get your mind off of things -- like a crossword puzzle, read a book, or even take a short nap. Don't forget that your mind needs rest too!

8) Give yourself a daily cut off time.
This is probably my number one tip when it comes to de-stressing. At the end of the work day (and sometimes for 30 minutes in the middle of the day) I force myself to shut off my computer, put my phone on silent, and just focus on relaxation and "me time." It's so easy to get caught up in to-do lists and emails to the point that we find ourselves in what seems like a constant state of work. When I make relaxation a part of my daily routine, I find myself looking forward to it, and that automatically helps stress subside.

Which of these do you agree with most? What are your best tips and tools for de-stressing?

For more by Gracie Gordon, click here.

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