There are many ways to reduce stress, and even more excuses not to do any of them. Many well known ones like exercise are considered mainstream solutions but are actually strongly disliked by 50% of people, one in four even say they hate working out.
So, if even the popular methods aren't popular, why not take a look at the ones that are often left out of the conversation? Who knows, maybe something here resonates with you. Everybody’s different.
1 Put up a nature video
Being in nature is good for your mental health. That is not news. But most of us reside in the concrete jungle or simply want to avoid mosquitos as much as possible.
Studies have shown that the benefits of nature can also be gained by watching nature videos. Many are familiar with nature soundtracks to meditate or fall asleep to. But why not take it a step further and put up a 10 hour long video of a waterfall?
If you have a second screen this could be the ideal place to display such a video. It invites a bit of extra nature into your life, even if it is just simulated.
If you don't want to sacrifice your sacred second monitor space, there’s a trick you can use on youtube to make the video pop out into a mini player which you can place anywhere on the screen while you work.
2 Knitting or crocheting
The repetitive nature of knitting can have a similar effect on the mind as meditation. The process is engaging enough to keep you occupied, but easy enough to allow you to get into the flow state once you get going. And as we like to preach, the flow state is the ultimate state of being.
Knitting has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, as well as lower levels of the harmful stress hormone cortisol.
This is really one of those “don’t knock it until you try it” type of things. Especially if other mindfulness methods, like focusing on your breathing, haven’t been your cup of tea.
3 Use your body to trick your mind
Imagine any scene in a movie where a character suddenly gets motivated to work and gets a lot done. Is this depicted with the character slouching on a couch, or is this person sitting up straight behind their desk? (Let me guess, were you thinking of this movie as you read that?)
The way your body is positioned influences your mind and vice versa. Simply having better posture at your desk can make you feel more serious and capable.
Working while standing with a firm posture keeps the blood flowing and signals to your brain that you are in the process of keeping shit together. As a result your stress levels can drop.
4 Resolve conflicts
It isn't always easy to identify what it is exactly that is causing stress in your life. You might have a legit main cause in mind, but your stress may be exacerbated by other things that are seemingly unrelated.
If you have any conflict with other people in your life, try addressing these and see if you can make amends. Don't underestimate the influence that hidden factors can have on stress.
Music is an integral part of humanity. It likely predates language itself. Music is one of those things that are baked into our essence.
Not everybody can perform on stage and get a repeat audience, but singing is at least a pleasant experience for most people. In east asia for example it is one of the most popular pastimes for families and groups of friends (KTV, karaoke).
Try to take the opportunity to sing more often and let its soothing effects do their thing.