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5 Surprising Ways to Reduce Stress

Chronic stress can create serious health consequences but in order to combat stress, we need to consider all aspects of life circumstances: physical, emotional and social, mental and spiritual. Here are five surprising facts you may not have considered when creating a healthy living plan:

1. Watch your thoughts as they can dramatically affect stress. Research in brain chemistry links our mental state with our physical experience of stress. Irrational thoughts can—and will—create stress in our body. For example, limiting beliefs like everyone should like me, may lead to a stress response in the body if we think that someone doesn’t approve of us or what we do. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most effective therapy for limiting beliefs and can assist with a calmer life. With CBT we evaluate the validity of thoughts and beliefs and learn to question negative assumptions. Instead of believing that people need to like us, perhaps we can shift our thoughts: maybe that person is having a bad day that has nothing to do with me or ask does it really matter someone doesn’t like me?

2. Get organized. Chaos in your physical environment can create stress. Simply put, mess causes stress. Clutter suggests to us that our work is never done and this can prevent relaxation and produce guilt. Get in the habit of putting things back when you have finished using them. There are people who specialize in de-cluttering spaces. If you have hoarder tendencies, it may be worth hiring someone to assist you.

3. Get social. Research supports that positive social interaction decreases our level of cortisol, the stress hormone. If you are shy or don’t have a lot of friends, try volunteering. Many people find that working together on a meaningful project is a way to interact with others that does not require having sparkling conversational skills but can still produce a significant reduction in stress.

4. Be aware. Each of us has individual stress signals: tightening of shoulders, a queasy stomach, headaches, or coming down with more colds than usual. These telltale body signals help us understand when stress is beginning to take over. Ignoring these signals will simply make the problem worse. Use these signals to help remember to eat properly (whole foods and water or herbal tea), get some simple exercise, and practice calming breathing techniques to rely on when stressful times do occur.

5. Create a meaningful life. It’s true that people who are living a life filled with activities reflective of their highest values have a higher stress tolerance. We each need something that gets us out of bed in the morning and for which we are willing to tolerate unpleasant experiences. It may simply mean being a great parent to your children, or doing work that is important to you, but a sense of purpose and meaning is a powerful antidote to stress.

For more tips on overcoming stress join us February 4th for Rhodes Colleges’s stress-busting workshop. See page 4-5 for full details. Bea Rhodes M.Ed. is founder and President of Rhodes Wellness College, a fully accredited Private Career College located in Vancouver, B.C. For the past thirty years, she has designed and taught holistic wellness and life skills programs for both the Federal and Provincial Government. Bea enjoys working with clients in the four domains of wellness: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Visit for more information.