How To Reduce Stress and Increase Well Being

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on September 30, 2009

Man oh man, I can’t get warm today!

It has been so cold. I think the high was 50F today. Welcome to fall in Canada!

I had to turn my space heater on at my desk (I refuse to turn on the heat in September!).

A quick note about US Shipping:

We are all set to go for US Shipping, however we are still waiting ever so patiently (ok, not really!) for Canada Post to get our account set up. It will likely be in the next day or two, so please bear with me. I on the other hand, will continue to be impatient. ;)


Fight Stress Before It Gets The Better Of You!


This morning we learned that stress and our emotions may have an impact on our body’s ability to fight off illness. Yesterday, we also discussed strategies on how to beat negative thinking (and Part 2).

Now I am going to share with you some fabulous tips on fighting stress and increasing feelings of positivity and well-being in your life.

These tips come from:


1) Relax in a way that makes YOU happy

  • Research shows that relaxation methods like meditation, hypnosis, yoga, deep breathing, napping, saunas, and just resting quietly are all equally effective (see Druckman & Bjork, 1991). I think there is a common misconception that we have to be doing yoga or meditating to truly feel stress relief. It just isn’t so! I often relieve stress through planning and making a list. Eric relieves stress with napping. I say do whatever works for you and stick with it! Meditation actually drives me nuts and increases my stress, so it is not something I force myself to do anymore (I once did in the past).

2) Escape

  • Take your mind of the stress by watching your favourite TV show, listening to music, journaling, cooking, pursuing hobbies, or just day-dreaming! If you are like me, the more you think about the stressful situation the worse it gets. Sometimes you just need to busy your mind with something else and you will be able to see the situation in a new light the next day. I tend to dream about fun things I want to do in the future, like an upcoming vacation, picturing our home renos complete, or dreaming up what colour to paint the bathroom.

3) Visualize

  • Stare at an object in the room such as a plant. Close your eyes and visualize the same object. Now open your eyes to confirm your visualization. This form of meditative observation is thought to focus your attention and calm you. I also like to use visualization to imagine myself over-coming the obstacle. When I was nervous about my half marathon, I would picture myself crossing the finish line with my hand in the air!

4) Reframe your stressor

  • Find a new way to explain your stressor so that it becomes less stressful. For example, when I was injured I tried to see my injury as an opportunity to engage in other activities I didn’t have time for when I was exercising and training for a race. I tried to view the injury as a free hour each week to do something else I love. I had more time to write, bake, hang out with friends, etc.

5) Laugh

  • O’Brien and colleagues found that college students who had to give impromptu speeches had heart rates of 100 beats per minute while they were speaking, but those who watched an episode of Seinfeld beforehand performed with heart rates of just 80-95 bpm.

6) Get a Pet

  • Handling pets is a great stress relief and is why many hospitals and nursing homes now permit special pets for patients. Every time I watch Sketchie sleeping or I pet him, I instantly feel my stress dissipate.

7) Exercise!

  • Do I really need to explain why? Just get out there for a simple walk if you are feeling frazzled. Most likely you will come back refreshed and with a newer, more positive outlook on things. Even just 10 minutes of exercise is said to have wonderful effects on the body and mind.

8.) Be Honest

  • How many times have you said yes to something that you really didn’t want to do and then you stressed about it for days or weeks? Learn to be assertive about the things you do and don’t want to do with your life. Being honest is sometimes very difficult, but it sure beats being stressed out because you feel like you have to do things you don’t have time for.


Tonight’s questions:

What stresses you out? What are your top stress relieving activities?

Because I am a person who gravitates toward sameness and consistency, I feel stressed out when I feel that things in my life are getting out of control. When things pop up unexpectedly on my plate that I did not anticipate, I can feel the tension rising.

I must say after my Epsom Salt bath on Sunday, that is currently at the top of my list! Not only is it relaxing, but it gives me time to think about things in my life in a peaceful, quiet environment.



Coming up on OSG:

  • The next segment in A Year Can Change A Lot is on its merry old way! Don’t worry I have not forgotten about it. :)
  • A special Half Marathon FAQ post is coming up tomorrow. I will respond to all of your questions that I did not answer in my half marathon recap! Apparently I left out some crucial details. ;)

We are not held back by love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present. ~Marianne Williamson

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Bronwyn September 30, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I find that as a student homework stresses me the most. Mostly because so much of it feels so vague, I never know where to start! That’s what really gets to me.

For me the best thing is to just get it done! Find a place and just “start there”.

I’m also really busy with life outside the classroom, I have a really large leadership volunteer role in my residence, and sometimes the aspects of being a leader are very opposite of my nature. I’m an introverted shy person by nature, and I fear other’s judgement and rejection. Being a leader means I’m always in other’s people’s eye!
To relieve this stress I try and just think about the positive things are (hopefully!) thinking about me, and not the negatives.

And to help with the stress of just always being busy I take time out for me every day, in the form of blog reading, exercise, and general lazyness.


Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Making a list and planning also work really well for me–but this is also sort of just feeding into my type A personality (and the root of all the stress!) However, it calms me haha. I firmly agree that laughter is the best medicine… Sometimes a silly moment is all it takes to pull me out of a funk


JessicaR September 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I’ve really been enjoying these posts!

I am the same as you — I stress when things pop up unexpectedly. Or when I only have vague details about something, such as when an event will start. Occasionally I stress about it so much that I end up just not doing it/going because I can’t handle trying to fit it into my schedule. Definitely need to work harder at that one!


Casey September 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

I can’t wait until you have US shipping abilities either!!!

Have to say today was mighty stressful for me because of a bunch of last minute unexpected things that I had to do. We’re doing a big fitness retreat at work that starts tomorrow. It’s a fun time of year, but also so much to do! I ended up working 2 hours overtime to get most of it done and have more to do tomorrow morning before my event starts.

Now that I’m home, I can follow your checklist advice and start to relax with my puppy while I pack my suitcase. A salt bath sounds divine!!


Kristin - September 30, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Life makes me stressed. Ha ha (sort of) :). Making a list really helps me. I love your suggestions, and am bookmarking this post!


Meredith (Pursuing Balance) September 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I totally agree with you about being honest about what you can and cannot handle! As much as you don’t want to say no, if it’s causing you a lot of stress and you can’t give 100% it might be for the best!


Shannon (The Daily Balance) September 30, 2009 at 8:32 pm

I’ve been really cold today, too! I’m about to make a mug of hot cocoa and cuddle up with my Mister ;)


Jess September 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm

My job is VERY stressful – full of crazy deadlines and never really knowing what’s coming down the pipe (and when things will change). I used to turn to sodas when i was stressed out at work, or candy, but now I’ve switched to tea – I always keep a special tea that I LOVE in my desk.

At home, I JUST lit some of my favorite candles and am chilling with the cats and have the TV on to a favorite show. Sometimes I take a bath or read too to combat stress.


Madeline @ Greens and Jeans September 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Tea, a good book, or a trashy tv show are some of my favorite ways to de-stress at the end of the day! I’m also a big time list maker, so if I am stressing out about something that I can make a better plan for, I will plan and organize that sucker until I feel great about it!


Jenna September 30, 2009 at 8:59 pm

I can’t wait for US Shipping!!!! :)

I am always FREEZING at work. Sometimes I get so cold that my lips turn purple. I think I may need to get a space heater under my desk. Lol.

My job stresses me out, but other than that, I try not to take anything too seriously. At work, I make lists and rank the priority and importance of each task. That helps me not freak out as much knowing that I am betting the biggest and most important things done first!


Allison September 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

These are all really good tips… I’m gonna put some of these to good use ASAP because I’m currently stressed as we speak! Haha :)


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Another fabulous post! I love to de-stress by reading trahsy magazines. :)


Jolene September 30, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I love your taste in books – I have added a couple of the ones you have mentioned to my wishlist!


Bridget September 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm

I really enjoyed reading this! Oh, and it was FREEZING here in Victoria (BC) too! Haha…welcome to Canada!


Cynthia (It All Changes) September 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Change and uncertainty stress me out. My job has a lot of stress involved because I never know what is next.

For me TV and exercise are ways to relax. I like to just sit in front of the TV and escape into other people’s reality or fantasy. I also love exercise because it shows me what I can really do.


Michelle Gay September 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Take a shower, call a friend, play FarmVille–ok maybe not all the time :), make a new recipe, read blogs, watch Gossip Girl.

Biggest though…painting my toe nails.



jewels September 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Thanks for these great posts and taking the time to share :)

A lot of times I get stressed overanalyzing a situation and really working myself up, does that happen to anyone else? The situations I work myself up about are basically never that big of a deal too.


Deirdre September 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

When I am given 4 different tasks at work that all need to be completed ASAP, I get really stressed out. I also get stressed out when I think about the future because I am unsure of what I want to do for a living. I try to listen to music and focus on the positive things in my life to de-stress


Morgan @ Life After Bagels September 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

The top thing that stresses me out is when something does not go as planned. If I get thrown off course I go from 1 to 10 in a second. I’m still figuring out how to not let it get to me.


Nikki T September 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Your little blurb under the question about your stressor pretty much sums up mine! I’m definately a person of sameness and changes in plans/scheduled things and unexpected things popping up definately bring my stress levels up- I like to stick to the scheduled plans, but I’m trying to change that about myself ever so slightly…still stay organized, but don’t be so uptight about it!
My stress relievers are things like reading, watching a fave TV show, going for a walk or something talking it out (ie: VENTING!) to the Husband, a girlfriend or my Mamma!


Janna (Just Flourishing) September 30, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Thanks Angela!

Way too many things stress me out. I need to calm down!

To de-stress I love exercise, especially going for long runs.

But my big comfort is picking up some sushi and getting comfy with a health mag or trashy show, like the hills :) Always calms me down!


Mary October 1, 2009 at 12:18 am

It’s too bad, but work stresses me out. More than money or anything!! Daily It is really hard for me to not feel on edge or worried about how I am doing there. It is a constant thing, but I have learned to cope and that is what makes me sad about it. I should not have adapted to the stress, I should have done something about it. No more crying in the copy room for me. :) I am determined to be above it all and be the positive person I am. :) Your posts are SO great. LOVE IT!


Nicole October 1, 2009 at 1:29 am

Yeah, it’s freezing in Germany already too! I refuse to turn on the heat in September or the beginning of October. My husband has been complaining that he is freezing, and I have been sounding like my mother telling him to put a sweatshirt on!

I stress out about almost everything! Being organized helps with that a little though. ;)


Diana October 1, 2009 at 3:22 am

“Because I am a person who gravitates toward sameness and consistency, I feel stressed out when I feel that things in my life are getting out of control. When things pop up unexpectedly on my plate that I did not anticipate, I can feel the tension rising.”

This is me basically. :P
What I do to relax: Watch movies and tv shows (the best!), take a nap, go for a walk and listen to some music, etc.

Cold still hasn’t arrived here in Portugal. It’s cooler but not cold! I was sick of the hot weather though, so this is very welcome. :)


Laura October 1, 2009 at 7:15 am

The things that stress me out the most are the ones that I feel like I can’t do anything about; I’m really big on being able to take action, at least a step or two in the right direction – if I can do that, then something won’t stress me out. Its the things that involve waiting or really gradual progress that make me stressed, because it feels so out of my hands.

Plus, anytime I’m overtired, ANYTHING stresses me out. You could drop a sock on the floor and I’d be clenching my jaw and panicking as if you’d told me I had to give a speech to the UN. So my number one stress-buster is definitely getting enough sleep.

My second favorite way to relieve stress is to listen to (or watch – thanks youtube!) guided meditations or relaxation hypnotherapy recordings. You know, like when they have you lie down at the end of yoga classes and do a short breathing and visualization sort of exercise? I don’t really like regular meditating at all, either (I get antsy) but something about letting someone else do the talking and thinking so my mind can just follow along is SO relaxing to me. And they’re quick, too – ten minutes is all it takes to completely reset your system.

Excited for Part 4!! I’m dying to see how you found the courage to take the leap and leave your desk job. :)


Paige @ Running Around Normal October 1, 2009 at 8:03 am

Great tips! I get stressed when I’m going, going, going. However, that’s usually brought on all by me.


Pam at Highway to Health October 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Thanks for this! I have been really stressed lately. I will definitely take advantage of these.


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