6 Ways to Reduce Stress and Promote Productivity
April is stress awareness month and a great opportunity to reexamine daily habits and strategies to lessen stress when you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Below are six of our favorite strategies for managing stress and promoting productivity.
Incorporate Movement into Your Day
Exercise and training allows the healthy release of endorphins and dopamine, both of which positively affects short-term and long-term health. Even simple activity, such a 20 minute walk, can help reduce stress as it allows your brain to disconnect from stress through a process called transient hypofrontality. Be sure to completely unplug while engaging in daily movement as you will not experience a positive impact if you are scrolling your phone or other electronic devices as the same time. A complete detachment from electronic devices and devoting a consistent block of time each day to movement will allow your body, mind and emotions to reap the benefits of physical activity to its fullest extent.
Ensure You’re Getting Adequate Sleep
Sleep is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Healthy sleep allows you to rest and recover physically and emotionally, which in turn will help you better manage stress. Research has repeatedly shown that consistent, quality sleep on a nightly basis is influenced by powering down at night (turning off electronic devices and allowing your body to relax before drifting off to sleep) and promotes both productivity and long-term health. A mix of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep are key to restoring your mind and body. Non-REM sleeps contributes to physical restoration, while REM helps your mind process the emotional toll of stressful events that occurred throughout the day. REM sleep typically happens toward the end of a night’s sleep, so if you are sleep deficient in general, this balance will be negatively impacted.
Give Yourself Vision Breaks Throughout the Day
Allowing yourself periodic breaks throughout the day will increase your productivity tremendously. Give yourself three to four 10-minute breaks to break up your day and maintain peak performance. Focus on something relaxing or light physical activity during your break to leave you feeling less stressed and more productive. Giving yourself a visual break from your screen will allow you to soften your gaze, rest your eyes and as a result, you will reduce stress throughout your entire body.
Listen to music
Music can have a profound effect your body and emotions as it is a powerful tool for stress management and relaxation. Research shows that listening to music during a stressful moment can help you refocus to a more positive and calmer mindset. Researchers at Stanford University have conclude that, “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” If you’re asking which type of music is best for relaxation, that is up to you. The key to obtaining relaxation through music is first finding the type of music you genuinely enjoy as you must first like the music for it to relax you. Forcing yourself to listen to music that bothers you can create tension rather than reduce it, so instead find the music that you prefer, whichever genre that may be, then focus on quieting your mind as you listen and relax.
Focus on Breathing
The practice of taking a deep breath when stressed is most effective when both the inhale and exhale are focused on as the exhale is most important to release stress. The longer you can focus on exhaling the breath out, the better as it pushes back on stress and simulates a relaxation response. When your exhale is longer than your inhale it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body after danger has passed, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Next time you feel the stress closing in on you, take that deep breath, but be sure to focus on the exhale, the longer the better.
Maintain a Good Balance
Focus on maintaining balance in as many aspects of your life as possible. Allow yourself to regularly recharge, eat healthily (majority of time), ensure you’re getting enough sleep and focus on one task after another instead of multitasking. Multitasking is unachievable and it increases stress while decreasing creativity and productivity overall. Increase your effectiveness by prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance.
Stress management is a key element to living a fulfilled and productive life. Give the above strategies a try to find what works best for you and live a life you love.
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