How to Achieve a Stretch Goal

What is a stretch goal? For our purposes, we’ll define a stretch goal as a goal for which you don’t appear to be well suited, based on past experience.

For example, if you’ve always struggled financially, the goal of becoming a millionaire would be a stretch goal. Getting in great shape would be a stretch goal if you’ve weighed over 400 lbs for many years.

We all have dreams that would be stretch goals for us. Plus, everyone is different – what might be a stretch goal for you could be more easily achievable by someone else, and vice versa.

You can easily spot when a goal is going to be a big challenge because the following symptoms are frequently present:

  • The thought of achieving the goal is physically uncomfortable. We all have a spot in our bodies where we get that feeling of dread.
  • You feel a strong inclination to procrastinate. If you’re having trouble getting started, that’s a warning sign.
  • You indulge in distractions. The TV, Internet, food, sleeping, socializing, or drinking all become a lot more interesting than they usually are for you.
  • When you do actually try, there is resistance everywhere. Now we’re talking again about that feeling of dread, as well as the appearance of numerous obstacles in the way.

Once you’ve determined that a particular dream is a stretch goal, how can you accomplish it, when it seems so challenging?

This process is particularly suited to achieving a stretch goal:

  1. Write down your goal. Also write down the experience of achieving it. Imagine having just lost those 50 pounds. How would you feel? What would that experience look like? Focus on your thoughts and feelings.
  2. Keep writing, reading, and imagining.Put down on paper the experience of having achieved your goal. Try to relax with those feelings until there’s no negative emotional charge, like fear, associated with the goal. Repeatas often as possible until the negative feelings are completely gone.
  3. Stick with the winners. Hang around other people who’ve done what you’ve set out to accomplish.In our weight loss example, join a gym and find the folks who have successfully lost a lot of weight. Notice that they aren’t remarkably different from you.
  4. Make a plan. Now you can make a plan and move forward with the more traditional approach of putting your plan into action and refining it until you reach the results you desire. As you put your plan in motion, continue to use your positive meditations for daily motivation and clarity.

 
Constantly monitor your feelings and your behavior throughout the achievement process.

Are your thoughts mostly positive? Do you feel good when you think about achieving what you’re aiming for? Are you taking enthusiastic action toward reaching your goal? If not, you need to eliminate negativity. Repeat steps two and three.

Stretch goals are challenging because they aren’t in alignment with our previous experiences or our opinions about ourselves. The negative feelings that arise when you attempt a stretch goal need to be dealt with effectively to help bring about your success.

Following the process above will move your stretch goals into the realm of possibility. Even your wildest dreams truly are within your reach.

Fill Your Life With Happiness

Happiness is a funny thing. Many experts say that happiness comes from within. This may be true, but there are also specific experiences that make us happy.

Maybe having a great day at the park with your kids filled you with happiness. Or perhaps that promotion you’d been working for finally came to pass. Bet you felt happy then!  However, you probably also know someone who seems happy all the time, even when things aren’t going well in their life.

So how can you have more of this elusive thing that comes both from within and from without? Luckily, there are specific things we can do to bring more happiness into our lives. We can also choose to remove things from our lives that may prevent happiness.

Try these ideas to simplify your life and focus more on doing what brings you real happiness:

1.  Unplug from email. Everyone loves to get email, as long as it isn’t spam. But the enjoyment is only temporary. Think about the amount of time you spend on email over the course of a week. Is all that time you’re spending making you happy?

• Do what you can to eliminate the 95% of the email that means the least to you, and limit this communication tool to those people you care about the most. Just knowing that you don’t have email piling up 24/7 provides some mental relief which will help make way for happiness.

2.  Ditch all the stuff. Go through your belongings one by one and purge the stuff that you don’t need or love. All the extra stuff is just getting in your way and tying up your resources. Sell the stuff, pitch it, donate it, or give it away to friends.

3.  Cancel cable television. Cable TV is practically a given in our country. But the time it takes away from the average person’s life is staggering. And no one is happier from watching television. It merely serves as a distraction from the real issues, both positive and negative, in your life.

• Try limiting your viewing to 2-3 hours a week. This will free up plenty of time to do other things you love or work toward goals that are important to you. Reaching those goals will, in all likelihood, bring you more happiness than excessive TV viewing!

Getting rid of these things might not directly increase your happiness, but it will allow you some time and space to do other things that will increase your happiness. 

Now that you’re done with the big steps, what’s next? Take some time to consider these areas of your life:

  • Spend time on your relationships. How is your relationship with your spouse or partner? Is there something that could be improved upon? Making this relationship as positive as possible is crucial to your happiness.
  • Evaluate your social network. Are your friendships and social activities supporting your happiness? In what ways do they make you happy? How could you increase your positive feelings in this area?
  • Assess your health. Are you as healthy as you could be? Are you happy with your body? What changes could you make to your routine to bring about the results you desire?
  • Be honest with yourself about your career, finances, and hobbies. Look at each of these areas and determine if you would be happier with some changes. If so, make a plan with some easy action steps to get you started on a path that brings you more joy.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the dead weight and changed the things that aren’t as good as they could be you have room to add in activities that support your happiness. Don’t be in a big hurry to take up all the new space; enjoy the peace and quiet.

If you have an activity you’d really love to add to your life, now is the time to do it. Over time, continuing to add new things that bring joy will enhance your overall happiness. Your life will be forever changed.

Having a life filled with happiness is really quite simple. Just get rid of all the objects and activities that aren’t adding to your joy. At this point, you’ll have the time, space, and money available to add more satisfying features to your life.

Try implementing just one or two items from this plan today. Before you know it, your level of happiness will be higher than ever.

How to Banish Negative Thoughts

Who doesn’t have negative thoughts now and then? But what if you had a negative thought which was pervasive and constant? Would you know how to get rid of it? Fortunately, there are many methods available to get rid of incessant negative chatter in our heads.

Here is an effective step-by-step process that will work if you use it regularly. As our ongoing example in this process, we’ll use the negative thought, “I’m too dumb to do anything right.”

  1. Turn the thought into a mental image. Imagine looking and acting completely silly. Create the most exaggerated image of yourself you can. Start by envisioning yourself in ridiculous clothes that don’t match.
  • Maybe you’re also banging your head against the wall or doing other foolish things. You could also be shouting silly phrases that don’t make any sense. The image should be clearly visible on your mental screen. Include sounds, smells, and physical sensations as well. Keep at this until the original thought brings up this new image.
  1. Choose an alternative thought. For our example, a good replacement thought would be, “I’m so intelligent I can do anything.” Choose something that is the opposite of the original negative thought. Select a phrase that feels right to you, through your whole body.
  1. Turn the new, positive thought into a mental image. You might imagine yourself dressed like Albert Einstein, shouting, “I’m brilliant. I can do anything.” Again, make the image outrageous. Keep at it until the positive thought automatically brings up that image.
  1. Link the two images together. Now, imagine a way to get from your negative image to your positive image. This is almost like you’re the director of a movie; you want to find a way to connect the opening and the closing scenes.
  • Perhaps in the first scene, you could imagine the image of the “dumb” version of yourself being struck by lightning and catching on fire. Then the new, Albert Einstein version of you rises from the ashes and goes into his “I’m brilliant. I can do anything” routine.
  • Keep practicing until you run the entire scene in your mind quickly, with no hitches. This should take fewer than 2 seconds from start to finish.
  1. Test out your new mental connections. When you think the original negative thought, the entire scene should flash through your mind. Your mental process should end with the moment where you’re thinking, “I’m so brilliant. I can do anything.” If you’re not there yet, repeat Step 4 until you are. Although this may seem silly to you, this is a common mnemonic technique. The imagery must be outrageous. This makes your memory’s work much easier.

Also, play around with the perspective. Most people find it helpful to view everything in the third person, as if they were spectators watching themselves in a movie. But you may prefer imagining things from a first-person perspective, in which everything happens to you, as it would in everyday life. Try both perspectives to determine which works better for you.

If you systematically deal with all your negative thoughts, you’ll eventually find that you have very few left. Imagine how your life could change! What might you do that you’ve always been too afraid to try? Now you’ll have the courage to do just that. Powered by TCPDF (www.tcpdf.org)

Texting and Relationships: Good, Bad, or In Between?

Even in our closest relationships, we’re often likely to talk by text rather than face to face these days. A recent study of these short messages shows their impact on how we communicate with the people we care about most. Researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed couples in committed relationships. They discovered that some things are better off being discussed in person.

The major findings included men reporting less relationship satisfaction due to excessive texting. For women, dissatisfaction arose when text was used to apologize or manage complex relationship issues and differences.

The good news is that everyone liked sharing endearments by text. If you want your texts to reduce stress and bring you closer together with your loved ones, try these mobile communication tips.

Steps to Take with Your Loved Ones:

  1. Be gentle. It can be tempting to say things by text that you would soften if you were talking to someone in the same room. Imagine how you would feel if you were on the receiving end.
  1. Address conflicts directly. Using text to avoid an argument tends to backfire. Discussing sensitive issues works better when you can see each other and respond accordingly. If your partner already looks remorseful about forgetting your anniversary, you’ll know it’s time to drop the subject.
  1. Apologize in person. Asking for forgiveness becomes more meaningful when you make a personal appearance. You’ll also be in a better position to prevent any further misunderstandings.
  1. Listen to each other. Give each other your full attention. Watch for facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal cues.
  1. Put your phone away. Except for emergencies, set your phone aside when you have company. Focus on the people around you.
  1. Ask for a recess. It’s easy for a conversation to escalate when you’re texting back and forth. If things are getting too heated, suggest tabling the subject until you can get together later.

Steps to Take Yourself:

  1. Count your texts. Other studies suggest that frequent texting causes stress. Try to limit yourself to 50 texts or fewer each day.
  1. Set a curfew. Late night texting can interfere with your rest and peace of mind. Plus, the lighted screen makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
  1. Slow down. Many people feel pressured to reply immediately to every message. Give yourself time to think before writing back. Schedule a few times a day to check messages instead of constantly having one eye on your phone.
  1. Clarify your language. Text is better suited to simple updates like what time to meet up for lunch. If you need to talk about something more complex, read it over to check for any wording that could cause confusion.
  1. Express your love. Everyone is a winner when you share your affection. The BYU study found that the people sending loving messages reported being even happier than the partner who received them.
  1. Send a letter. When you have something special to say, an old fashioned letter may spread more joy than any text. Surprise your parents with a greeting card or slip a love note into your spouse’s pocket.
  1. Hit delete. Holding onto electronic messages from your insurance company may come in handy in a dispute. When you’re texting with your loved ones, it’s better to let go of resentments than to archive them.

Overall, texting is great when you want to say something nice to each other. On the other hand, wait until you’re face to face to talk about the serious stuff. Look at texting as a supplement to talking rather than a replacement.

Say No and Still Be Friends

Many of us have a hard time saying no to friends. Who doesn’t want to help a friend who asks for your help? Unfortunately, there are times you simply need to say no when a friend seeks your assistance. Perhaps you’re way too busy or maybe your friend is asking you to do something that you’re uncomfortable doing. It can be awkward to say no to a friend. No one wants to risk a friendship. You might be surprised to find out that it’s not that hard to say no and still be friends.

Follow these principles and you can say no without damaging your friendship:

1. Make certain you didn’t misunderstand. Misunderstandings are common. Maybe you didn’t hear what you thought you heard. Get clarification before you say yes or no. Maybe you’ll be able to say yes, if you first seek to understand.

2. Separate the issue from those involved. Once you’ve gotten clear on the issue and determined that you’re not getting involved, remember that you’re still friends. Being friends is separate from the issue at hand. Ensure they understand that it’s the issue or your own situation that’s preventing you from saying yes, not them.

3. Keep the focus on yourself, not your friend. It doesn’t go over well if you say something like, “I can’t lend you money because everyone knows you’ll never pay it back.” Let them know that you care, but explain why you can’t help. It’s important that they understand why you’re saying no. For example, you could explain that you have a policy of never loaning money because it has ruined friendships in the past.

4. Be firm and clear in your “no.” Many of us give weak, wishy-washy answers that give the other person hope that we might change our minds. Avoid giving false hope and just give a clear “no.” A clear “no” ends the issue quickly. It’s like pulling off a Band-Aid with one quick pull.

5. What is the underlying need? If you can determine what he really needs, you can help your friend come up with another solution. Sometimes, a person in need doesn’t have the capacity to find more elegant solutions. You could be of great assistance by taking the time to brainstorm and look for other alternatives in which you aren’t involved.

6. Find another way to help them. Maybe you could help with the current issue in some smaller capacity. Offer other suggestions. Maybe they have another need where you would be happy to provide help and support. One of the keys to keeping the friendship is to ensure they walk away with something from you, even if it’s only advice and empathy. If they feel worse than they did before they approached you, the friendship is likely to be strained. How we feel about others is largely dependent on how they make us feel. Do what you can to make your friend feel better without compromising your limits.

It’s never easy to say no to a friend. But sometimes saying no is the only way to maintain a friendship. If helping your friend comes at too great a cost, you’ll end up feeling resentful, which can kill the relationship altogether. Take care of yourself and say no when it’s appropriate. Be supportive of your friends and try to help in other ways if you can’t acquiesce to their request. If you can show that you’re empathetic and offer help in another way, your friendship should remain strong. It can be an awkward situation, but sometimes saying no is the best option.

How to Become More Compassionate

Compassion brings both short and long-term happiness. Showing compassion not only
allows you to feel better, but it helps those around you to feel better, too. Since we all
want to be happy, showing compassion can be a common goal for everyone.
Cultivating compassion is a worthwhile goal. It’s a significant part of being human
and can make you more grateful for the many good things you already have in your
life.

How can we be more compassionate?

1. Have good intentions. Each day, simply have the intention of being
compassionate and showing compassion to everyone you encounter. Make it a
part of your morning ritual to remind yourself to be compassionate.

Before you go to sleep at night, reflect on how you were compassionate or
failed to show compassion that day. Remind yourself again to be
compassionate the next day.

2. Focus on the similarities you share with others. Human brains are great at
spotting differences. However, we have to make a conscious effort to spot the
similarities.

When you find yourself feeling less than happy with someone, try to list as
many things as you can that you share in common.

Remember that all humans are similar in the ways that matter. For
example, we all need love, attention, happiness, affection, food, and
shelter.

3. Be empathetic. With everything happening in our lives, it’s easy to focus on
ourselves and ignore the plight of others. Consider the similarities that others
share with your loved ones. Now imagine your loved one is suffering.

If you can see another person as being similar to your loved one, it will
become easy to be sensitive to their suffering.

Keep in mind that another person is someone else’s loved one.
How would you want your loved one to be treated during a challenging
time?

4. Be compassionate with yourself. You might have noticed that the least
compassionate people are those that are the hardest on themselves. If you
won’t give yourself a break when you need it, you’re less likely to do it for
someone else.

Appreciate yourself and the challenges that you’ve experienced in your
own life. You’ll become more capable of doing the same for others, too.
Recognize that time you spend on yourself is time well spent. Refrain from
viewing it as an act of selfishness. You’re just as important as anyone else.
Let go of needing to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s a game that can’t
be won. If you’ll stop demanding perfection of yourself, you’ll stop requiring
others to be perfect, too.

5. Be fully present with others. The ultimate kindness is to be 100% present with
someone. It’s also a great time to practice being mindful. Be supportive and a
good listener without thinking any stray thoughts.

It’s not always easy to stay in the moment when someone is hurting, but
you’ll be a better person for it.

6. Remember the times that others have been kind to you. Perhaps you can do
the same favor for someone else.

7. Remember the times that others have been unkind to you. Perhaps you can
spare someone else from feeling the same pain.

Being compassionate is really a gift you give to yourself. When you’re kinder to others,
you learn to be kinder to yourself. You also encourage others to take an interest in
your life and to direct compassion back in your direction.

How To Ask For What You Want…And Get It…

If you are like many of the clients I work with in my 1:1 coaching sessions, asking for what you want is a challenge and often right up there on your list with going to the dentist.  In other words, you know you really need to…you just don’t WANT to. 
 
Well, here are seven sure fire action steps you can take that will make it easier to ask for what you want AND get it.
 
A quick way to remember these skills is by using the acronym DEAR MAN. 
It stands for:
 
 Describe
 Express
 Assert
 Reinforce
 
 Mindful (stay mindful)
 Appear Confident
 Negotiate
 
To make this more clear, let’s go through each skill one-by-one.
 
Describe
Describe the current situation (if necessary).  It’s important to stick to facts, of course, but you need to tell the person exactly what you need and what you’re reacting to.
 
Express
Express ‘your FEELINGS and OPINIONS about the situation.  It’s important you don’t assume that your feelings and opinions are already clear.  Use phrases such as “I want” or “I don’t want” instead of phrases like “I need” or “you should” or “I can’t.”
 
Assert
Assert yourself by ASKING for what you want or SAYING NO clearly.  It’s crucial that you don’t assume people can read your mind.  Assume that others will not figure it out unless you clearly ask.  And, don’t expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want.
 
Reinforce
Reinforce or reward the person ahead of time by explaining CONSEQUENCES.  Tell the person the positive effects of getting what you want or need. Tell him or her (if necessary) the negative effects of your not getting it. Help the person feel good ahead of time for doing or accepting what you want. Reward him or her afterwards.
 
Mindful (stay mindful)
Keep your focus ON YOUR OBJECTIVES. 
Maintain your position and don’t be distracted.
 
You may have to employ the “broken record” concept of repeatedly asking, saying no, or expressing your opinion over and over. 
 
You may also have to ignore the other person if they attack, threaten you, or attempt to change the subject, ignore facts, or try to divert you.  Ignore distractions and just keep making your point.
 
Appear Confident
Appear effective and competent.  Use a confident voice tone and physical manner.  Make good eye contact. Don’t stammer, whisper, stare at the floor, retreat, or say things like “I’m not sure;’ etc.
 
Negotiate
Be willing to “GIVE TO GET.” 
This can take many forms, and books have been written on this topic alone. 
 
However, here are some concepts and strategies you can employ.

  • You can offer or ask for alternate solutions to the problem.
  • You can reduce your request.
  • You can maintain a position of “no” but offer to do something else or solve the problem another way.
  • You can turn the tables by turning the problem over to the other person.  For example, try phrases like “what do you think we should do?” or “I’m not able to say yes, and you seem to really want me to, so what can we do here” or “how can we solve this problem?”

So, in conclusion, if you keep the acronym “DEAR MAN” in mind, you will be more likely to get what you want when you ask for it. 


To help you remember this technique, we created a freebie.  Simply enter your name and email to the right.

5 Tips to a Happier Relationship with Your Teen

140308-family-with-teensHaving a teenager can be one of the most frustrating aspects of parenting but what are parents to do? We can’t keep them from growing up so that means we have to better our skills. As teenagers, kids start to think (and act) like they know it all but our job as parents is to constantly teach them. If you’re a parent of a teenager, brace yourself because you’re in for one wild ride, and heed the advice in this article to have a happier relationship.

  1. Change your mindset. While your children will always be your babies,they’re not children (in that sense) anymore. They’re growing up and, as parents, we have to recognize that and keep up. Your teen is maturing and becoming independent. Relax, this is exactly what you want them to do.  Realize that your baby isn’t a baby anymore and adjust your parenting accordingly.
  2. Actively listen. This can be difficult, especially if you have more than one child, but it’s very important to actively listen to your teen.  Active listening is giving your teen your undivided attention,not thinking aboutwhat you’re going to say next, and certainly not interrupting them.  You want your teen to be open with you and the best way to have that is to have open communication.
  3. Set a date.  Just because your child is a teenager now, doesn’t mean they don’t need quality time with you.  It can be a move, a sporting event, the mall, anything that lets them know you want to spend time with them.  Even if they don’t appear to want to spend time with you, keep the date!
  4. Address the situation and move on. Teens tend to get into trouble….a lot.  Whether it’s an attitude, sassy comments, disrespect, or something else, it’s important to address issue in an appropriate manner and move on. Don’t engage in heated arguments with your teen about the mistake that was made. (Easier said then done, I know.) However, this just fuels the fire. You can set boundaries in a strong, love and assertive way and then let it go.
  5. Be a parent. It’s very easy to get sucked into being your child’s friend but you must be a parent first. Put boundaries and rules in place and hold firm to them. Even though you’re the parent of a teen, you’re still teaching them to make wise decisions. The truth is teens need a strong rock and this is what they want through this time that is filled with great uncertainty for them.

Congratulations on being the parent of a teen! Have faith in your ability as a parent and know that you’re doing your best. Try to remember what it was like to be that age and how you wanted your parents to act or treat you. You’re doing a fantastic job…even if you don’t think so!

3 Habits That Create Lasting Happiness in Uncertain Times

140228-happiness-in-uncertain-timesUncertainty is a large part of life and can make it seem full of what-ifs. But, we can’t live in the what-ifs; we have to live in the moment. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but, trust me, it’s definitely there.

Here are 3 habits that help you create lasting happiness in uncertain times.

  1. Connection is a Powerful Happiness Habit: As humans, we’re inherently social, which means we crave interaction with others. Keeping up with friends, colleagues, and extended family is a great way to create lasting happiness. Plan a night out with friends to catch up and laugh at old times. Remembering how silly you were as a child is a great way to laugh and forget the worries of the day. If you’re making new friends, use this time to really get to know each other and create memories that will last a lifetime.
  2. Self-Care is Key to Happiness: How can you be happy if you’re not taking care of yourself? This doesn’t just mean a proper diet and exercise; it also means getting enough sleep and setting boundaries with others. If you can’t do something for someone else, it’s okay to say no and not feel guilty about it. It also means doing something for yourself. In today’s busy world, it’s important to take time for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time and it doesn’t have to cost a dime. You can go on a bike ride, hike through the forest, lose yourself in a good book, and so on. Okay, well, the book might cost you a little more than a dime but you’re worth it!
  3. Resolving Conflicts with Others: We’re all well aware that conflict is yet another fact of life. We’ve all had conflicts in our lives, but how we resolve them is important to creating lasting happiness. How many of you have felt, at one time or another, that someone has taken advantage of you? I think we’ve all felt like that at some point, but you need to realize that you can be kind without having people walk all over you (ahem, see the paragraph above about setting boundaries). You have every right to say how you feel but I encourage you to use “I” messages (and I’m not talking about sending a text from your iPhone). An example of an “I” message is “I feel like __________ when you ___________.” You’re telling the other person how you feel without placing blame on them.

If you follow these three habits, you’ll be on your way to creating lasting happiness in uncertain times. Just remember, you are the only person responsible for your happiness; it can’t be bought and it doesn’t depend on others. Happiness is a state of mind. Be happy, my friends, and always love the beautiful person you are!

25 Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

140221-field-daisiesLet’s face it — stress and anxiety aren’t going anywhere.  As long as we’re living, we’re going to experience these emotions in one form or another, and we all have different levels of anxiety and stress in our daily lives.  But, there are some ways to reduce these feelings in order to live in a more relaxed state of mind.

  1. Breathe.  Yes, it may sound like a cliché but it really works. Stop for a moment, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth.
  2. Get Organized.  We often get anxious or stressed out because we feel like we’ve forgotten to do something.  Eliminate that by using a calendar, either on your phone or on paper. Being organized will stave off some stress and anxiety because you’re not so flustered.
  3. Talk to Yourself.  Talk out loud to yourself about what has you stressed and/or anxious.  Tell yourself why you feel this way, what you need to do to get through your current situation, and that everything is going to be okay.
  4. Take a walk.  Walking isn’t just for physical health; it works wonders for mental health, too!  It helps to clear your mind
  5. Get a Massage.  A relaxing massage will help ease your body of tension and free your mind of the worries and stresses of the day.
  6. Find the Heating Pad.  Heat relieves tension and stress around the neck and shoulders.  You can also put the heating pad on your chest when you feel anxious to help relieve that feeling.
  7. Try Aromatherapy.  Scents like lavender help reduce stress levels. Light some candles and breathe in the aromatic scents and feel your worries wash away.
  8. Tea Time.  Drinking black tea can help lower the stress hormone (cortisol) levels and lead to relaxation.
  9. Focus on now.  Worrying about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow increases stress and anxiety and doesn’t have any positive effects on your body.  Focus on the here and now.
  10. Turn up the tunes.  Listening to music is a great escape from the day-to-day responsibilities we have.  Turn on your favorite music and sing along.
  11. Get it off your mind.  Keeping a journal is a great way to express all of your feelings and learn from them.  Grab a pen and a notebook and write down all of your stresses and what makes you anxious.
  12. Say NO to caffeine.  Caffeine can aggravate stress, especially anxiety.  It’s okay to have your morning cup o’ Joe, but try to be caffeine-free the rest of the day.
  13. Maintain a proper diet.  Eating the right foods our bodies need will help stave off stress and anxiety.  Fruits, veggies, and foods with high omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce stress.
  14. Laugh.  Laughing decreases cortisol and adrenaline and tricks your nervous system into making you happy.  Sit back with your favorite comedy and laugh your worries away.
  15. Exercise.  Hit the gym on those really stressful days to blow off steam.  Exercise releases endorphins to make you happy by snuffing out cortisol.
  16. Chew gum.  Who would’ve thought that gum could be a great stress reliever?  Chewing gum reduces cortisol levels to ease stress. Take it a step further — make it sugarless gum.
  17. Hang out with your pet.  People with pets, specifically dog owners, have been shown to have less stress.  Don’t have a dog?  Head out to the local dog park and make a new friend.
  18. Phone-a-Friend.  Chatting with a friend can ease stress and anxiety.  It can also give you a new perspective on your current situation.
  19. Meditate.  Meditation has been shown to have positive effects on stress. Find a quiet place and let your mind go.
  20. Try Self-Hypnosis.  In today’s world, there’s an app for everything. Hypnosis can help reduce anxiety and it’s a great technique for stress relief.
  21. Listen to calming sounds.  This one is different from turning up the tunes because this is all about listening to soothing, calming sounds. Sounds like a thunderstorm, waves crashing at the beach, or birds chirping on a spring day.  You got it…there’s an app for that, too!
  22. Take a nap.  Naps reduce cortisol levels, which decreases stress.  Find some time to take a 20 minute nap and you’ll feel amazingly refreshed.
  23. Get a touchstone.  A what?  A touchstone is something small and smooth.  You hold it in your hand and rub it gently with your thumb when you’re stressed or anxious.
  24. Hug it out.  Sometimes all it takes is a hug to make our day better.  Hugging may reduce blood pressure and stress in adults.
  25. Smooch.  Kissing releases chemicals that zap out stress hormones.  What are you waiting for? Grab a loved one and give them a kiss!

With all of these tips, there’s always a way for dealing with stress and anxiety in an empowering way. These feelings are part of life and we’re never going to eliminate them completely. But, these tips help us manage those feelings in a more positive way, which will have a better impact on our lives. Do you have any tips you’d like to share?