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How to Hack Stress

Stashed in: #lifehacks, Stress, Emotion, Awesome

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1. Lose Control

It’s the things that we cannot control that stress many of us out more than anything else. Control is safe, control is comfortable, control allows us to know exactly what will happen where, when and how. But here’s the hard fact: there is so much out there that’s out of our control. How can we make peace with that?

It’s simple: rewire your brain.

When things don’t go as planned, our brain releases cortisol, the stress hormone. This causes our bodies to respond reactively. It makes us feel panicked and unsafe. With practice, we can train our brains to know that everything is going to be okay when things don’t go our way. This will in time, create new neural pathways to replace the old cortisol circuits.

How to Rewire Your Brain:

#1 Do the opposite of what you would normally do

If you need to make your bed and organize everything neatly before you leave the house in the morning, let it grow messier by the day instead. Cook dinner without a recipe or switch out random ingredients. Color outside the lines, complete your tasks out of order, throw all the rules you used to follow out the window. If you’re someone who likes order in your life, you’ll soon see that there’s beauty in the chaos.

Bonus: Understanding the 5 factors of your personality can help you identify trends in your behavior.

#2 Take down the clock

Keeping track of time is an easy way to take control. We allot ourselves specific time increments to complete tasks throughout the day and can become stressed out if things take longer than usual. It’s important to accept that we cannot control time. Pick a day to never look at a clock; just go about the day doing chores and performing routines as you see fit, but do not monitor the time. Choose parts of a day to spend with no plans. Stop thinking about time so much and you’ll see that it doesn’t matter as much as you think.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on what we’re experiencing in the moment, instead of keeping our worries and dreads in the forefront of our attention.

While at work, instead of focusing on upcoming deadlines or how much time you have until your break, direct your attention to the rhythm of your fingertips typing on your keyboard, or how your slow, even breaths calm your body before you lead a presentation. Stop trying to multi-task, and instead, take care of one task at a time and be fully aware of all that your mind and body is doing for you to get it all done.

Kelly McGonigal on how to make stress your friend:

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