5 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress

5 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress

Simple Stress Relief Tools


Stress is everybody’s business. You could think you have it under control, but the truth is that stress has a way of creeping up on you, and causing drastic health repercussions. We live in a hectic world, one which requires our stress hormone, cortisol, to work overtime. However, this is far from the way this hormone was meant to act.

The body’s stress reaction was supposed to be called into play when man’s survival was threatened, not when he or she was 5 minutes late to work. Today, regardless of what your stressor is, you need to find effective natural ways to reduce it. Do not rely on prescription meds, or consider them, as even though they may offer short-term relief, they will make things worse very quickly.

Try the following tips and see yourself better for it:

1. Exercise


Exercise has numerous benefits on physical health, but can also help regulate emotional wellbeing, and reduce the negative results from a stressful lifestyle. Exercise elevated levels of beneficial brain chemicals, known as endorphins, which elevate mood, promote relaxation and counter stress. In addition, exercise also increases testosterone levels, which shares an inverse relationship with cortisol (as one goes up, the other goes down). For best results, exercise a minimum of three times weekly, making sure to include weight bearing exercises.

2. Eat Dark Chocolate


Eating any chocolate makes you feel better, right? However, we’re not looking at milk chocolate varieties, which are loaded with sugar and not much else, but rich dark chocolate, which contains a compound known as epicatechin.

This compound is highly sought after, as it has multiple beneficial effects on improving heart health, brain function and more, but also the ability to reduce the effects of stress, and perceived stress. Perceived stress is defined as a relative level of stress since what affects one person may not affect another. Improving your threshold that causes negative effects is extremely important.

That said, the goodness comes from the cocoa and NOT the sugar. I love cocoa in combination with spice, for instance in sauces.

3. Try A Massage


Why is it that people often opt for massages when feeling stressed? Simple, because it works! Stress is much more than “psychological”, as its effects manifest throughout the body; muscular pain, tension, inability to sleep and much, much more.

A massage can help address some of the manifestations of stress, such as pain and tension. Some massage therapists are also trained in the art of acupressure, which is using focused pressure at specific acupoints in order to get “chi” flowing once more. Chi (or qi) is believed to be life energy, with blockages of it resulting in many maladies that we cannot fully explain. Acupressure isn’t merely wishful thinking, as it has been documented to have a profound effect on reducing stress levels in the real world.

4. Meditate


Meditation should be taught in schools. There is likely no other technique that has a more profound effect on many facets of human health as meditation, yet most people do not practice any sort of.

Meditation does not need to be made into a complex science, but at its core involves focusing the mind on absolutely nothing beyond the immediate present. Anxiety surely worsens your stress burden, and meditation perfectly helps to eliminate worry of the future or past.

5. Laugh And Have A Good Time


The number one enemy of stress is fun. Laughter is the best medicine after all, as it can do miracles, ranging from reducing blood pressure, mediating pain responses, and helping to manage the negative effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Stressed individuals rarely take time out to smile and have fun, which only feeds the flames of a downward spiral. Make time for memories, have fun with family and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Isn't that the best reason to be silly ever?

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Dealing With Toxic People – Plan A and B

Dealing With Toxic People


Remove toxic people from your life?


It's easy, right? If you spot a toxic person, you avoid them. That is Plan A. If only it were that easy ...

How can we tell a negative person from a destructive one? And what if they are our employees, family members, bosses or even our spouses?

Why emotional intelligence helps dealing with toxic people

Do toxic people exist?


First, I would like to answer an ethical/philosophical question. Is it allowed to define other people as toxic? Or is it too simplified?

Is it compatible with a mindful way of life? Is not every one of us a product of his upbringing and his circumstances?

And doesn't a toxic person deserve respect even though he makes life difficult for others?

My answer: We have to call a duck a duck.

And if someone acts immoral, destructive or antisocial, I may call it by its name. I will go even further: I feel I may say someone who acts chronically destructive is poison.

Luckily toxic people are rare. We must not mistake just any negative person for a poisonous one.

What is a toxic person?


When you were in contact with a toxic person you are left with a bad feeling in your stomach. You might not be able pinpoint what causes your uneasiness.

But you know instinctively that the contact did not do you good.

Toxic. As if you were exposed to poison.

Some typical behavior patterns of toxic people:

  • They start a fight where a constructive conversation would suffice.
  • Often they have a learning resistance. They do not want to understand your point of view and don't consider changing theirs.
  • They do not have a strong sense of "wrong" and "right". They are right and everyone else is wrong. 
  • Overstepping boundaries is another characteristic. They do things they are not entitled to and don't respect limits. 
  • They have concrete expectations but do not put them in words. If you fail to deliver, you will get punished. Example: Your boss tells you: "Build a nice house" (he expects it has a cellar and is painted in green.)
  • Toxic people are great at emotional blackmailing and guilt tripping you. 
  • To get what they want, they lie. They might leave information out, start rumors or straight lie.
  • Manipulation is another feature often seen in toxic people. They'll tell you what you want to hear to get you on their team or achieve their goals. 
  • Often they are jealous, envious and full of other negative feelings (always self-reflective)
  • They show no empathy or consideration for your needs and well-being.
As I said earlier toxic people are very rare. Occasionally we might exhibit negative behavior ourselves. We are not perfect and we have weak moments. We make mistakes. That doesn't make us toxic.

A toxic person acts like listed above most of the time. The behavioral pattern is the norm, not an exception. That is how you can tell a toxic person.

Sometimes "normal" people temporarily turn into toxic people, when they are under severe emotional pressure. For instance, when their partner leaves them, they get fired or someone they love dies.

How to deal with toxic people


First, we have to understand that a person we are dealing with is destructive. That implies that we have a healthy amount of self-esteem and awareness.

Toxic people are great at making you feel as if you are the problem - and not them. Most times, it takes people long to even realize they are being manipulated. 

Often, people suffer for years at a workplace with a toxic boss or in a marriage with a destructive person until they understand. Some severe forms of toxic people, i.e. psychopath, are masters at hiding their true colors. 

Earlier this week I worked with a CEO who had a toxic employee. Destructive people are not limited to certain roles. 

Don't take it personally


That is the most demanding and most important tip. How on earth do you not take it personally when someone spreads poison over you?

That is hard. Very hard. But it is the way to go. 

The more personal you take it the more emotional you will react. A toxic person often feeds on your emotional reactions.

Energy thieves that suck you dry and leave you empty.

Don't let that happen to you.

There is a second reason why you should not take this toxic attack personally: if we feel attacked we want revenge. Attack - counterattack - more aggressive attack - more aggressive .... you get the picture. 

Keep telling yourself: "This is not about me, my personality, my person or my words.The other person wants to take it to a personal level but I will not allow this because it only weakens me."

Protect yourself mentally


Toxic people often use the big guns. Their ammunition is pure emotion.
  • They insult you on a personal level
  • They stalk you
  • They do hurtful and harmful things
  • They accuse you
  • They invade your privacy and ignore boundaries
Emotional intelligence helps to process these attacks systematically. Mindfulness is another powerful defense supporting you in gaining back control over your mind.

Talking to others can be a source of support. It is not as helpful as getting professional help and there is a risk that the topic will soon go on the other one's nerves. 

Things you can ask yourself to process emotional attacks:
  • What has been said/done with the sole intention of hurting me?
  • How much importance do I want to give a person who obviously just wants to harm me?
  • Which parts of what has been said are true?
  • Which conclusions/accusations do I deem valid?
Emotionally intelligent people would know the most important factor: "What is someone's motivation and agenda?"

Questions like these help you to differentiate between poison and reality. They also help you to decide if you are dealing with a toxic person. Keep in mind: Not every negative person is a toxic person.

Set boundaries


Toxic people cross borders, invade your privacy and act encroaching. 

They do things they shouldn't do. They don't do things they should do. 

What you can do is verbalize a factual and clear statement. Your statement should outline the consequences of ignoring it. 

Stipulations should be clear and precise. Try to focus on the facts only. No emotions. No conclusions.

Focus only on your own goals


A toxic person can entrap you in his web of blackmail, lies, allegations, self-pity, etc in no time. 

That can make it hard to keep a level head. Often we resort to putting ourselves on the same level as the toxic person. We fight back in the same emotional way.  At least we try.

On the playfield of the toxic person, we are hopelessly inferior.

The poison dwarf (I hope that translates from German) just has more routine.

A simple question can help to redirect your thoughts in the right direction: 

"What do I want to achieve in this relationship realistically?"

Emphasis on realistically.

Your realistic goal could be to seek the help of a coach. Or to find a new job in the next six months. 

Sometimes, for instance, if the toxic person is your sick Grandfather who has only two months left to live, the only realistic goal is to protect yourself mentally and physically.

You should always set a goal for yourself when you're dealing with toxic people.

Important is that you set a realistic goal. 

Keep your compassion in check


It speaks for you if you are a compassionate, empathetic person. Your good character can become a trap when you're dealing with a toxic person because they will try to take advantage of it.

They will make it sound as if their negative behavior is your fault and you're the one to blame. 

They will offer explanations and excuses for why they are who they are. You might feel bad for them.

And they deserve our pity.  It must be horrible to be trapped in your own destructiveness and negativity.

You will be a helpless victim in the hands of a toxic person if you develop a guilty conscience for looking after yourself or setting boundaries. 

Feel bad for the toxic person if you like. But stick to your goal.

Whatever causes the person to become destructive might be sad but your well-being comes first. 

Get support


Being exposed to someone toxic is exhausting, energy-sapping and upsetting. It can damage your self-esteem and well-being.

Consider hiring someone who can help you through it. 

People who deal with toxic people on their own often start to doubt themselves at some point. Friends might listen and comfort you but could provide unhelpful advice due to a lack of experience with this kind of situation. 

Don't assume the toxic person wants peace


Positive peaceful people assume that others feel just like them. That everyone wants to get along. But that isn't true. Toxic people are looking for conflict, emotion, intrigue. 

A high EQ  helps you to understand the agenda and motivation of someone. Misjudging someone's motivation can lead to clumsy and unhelpful actions. 

Toxic people are not looking for peace. They are not looking for harmony.  They want war. Whatever they might tell you.

For them, it is not exhausting, troubling and hurtful like it is for you. For them, it is a distraction from having to be alone with themselves. 

Don't try to convince poison


"Oh, if only he would understand that he's making life difficult for others. If I could just make him understand my perspective."

Well, you can't. Accept it. 

Toxic people are not interested in learning about your perspective. Some might pretend to be to keep the energy theft and parasitic relationship going. 

Don't try to convince them. They don't want to hear it. They don't want that there is truth in what you are saying. Because then they would have to question themselves.  And that is not what they want to do.

Again: set limits, set a goal, protect your soul. Get support.

Don't try to understand the toxic person


When someone acts toxic and destructive, our first reaction is perplexity. We ask ourselves: "Why are they doing that?"

Difficult childhood?  Mental disorder? Never got chances? 

It doesn't matter. The only time when this matters is if you are their psychotherapist. The human mind is a complex matter and you will not understand why they act the way they do. 

You are just wasting energy  that you should invest in the three important points:
  • What is my realistic goal in this situation?
  • How can I protect myself mentally?
  • What are my limits and how can I protect them?

Act, don't just react


You often end up in an exchange of blows when dealing with destructive people. 

He does that. I retaliate. He attacks again. Now I will show him what wood I am made of!

That can soon spiral out of control.  Just look at the silly number off sensible people who end up in court after fighting their neighbors for years.

People will often act upon the actions of their "enemy". They start to react which makes them calculable. 

And that is the playfield of manipulative people. Toxic people are way better at the game of action and reaction than you.

They are not afraid of conflict stress and pressure. On the contrary, this is why they are playing this game.

Once more: emotional intelligence is the key. Stay in control of your emotions and actions. Focused on your goal.

Some questions you can ask yourself to not become the play ball of the destructive person:
  • Which reaction do they expect from me?
  • What will happen if I don't react?
  • How can I break free from the spiral?
    AND
  • What was my goal again and which reaction supports it best?
Act. Don't react.

Take a deep breath. Turn on your intelligence. Look at the situation from a distance.

To sum things up

  • Don't take it personally
  • Protect yourself mentally
  • Set clear borders
  • Set goals and stay focused 
  • Let no one guilt trip you
  • Get support
  • Don't assume the other one is looking for peace and harmony
  • Don't try to convince toxic people
  • Don't try to understand toxic people
  • Act, don't react
Is that easier written than done? It certainly is.

The higher your EQ the easier to deal with situations like this - and any other situation. 

Mindfulness training will help with stress-management and make sure you don't focus on the negative situation more than necessary. 

Recommended tools:
1. Emotional Intelligence Training 

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Tactile Sense and Wellbeing

Living using all 5 senses 


Even before people can hear or see, they can feel touches. For our mental and physical health, the tactile sense, touching plays an important role.

Tactile Sense And WellbeingAllowing closeness


We use glasses to correct poor eyesight and hearing aids to correct poor hearing. Our senses are of crucial importance because they enable us to get an idea of our surroundings.

The facial expression of our conversation partner, the smell of smoke in the house, the sirens of a police car - without our senses we would be defenseless and unprotected.

How about touches?


Emotional meaning of the tactile sense


Other than in a sexual context we do not hear a lot about this overlooked sense. Like all others, it is important. It allows us to recognize a touch. Without it, we could not hold a fork, use a smart phone or change a bulb.

This uses of the tactile sense are very visible. The sense of touching is also of large importance for our emotional and physical well-being.

Eat or cuddle?


In the 50ties Psychologist Harry Harlow (read more on Wikipedia) conducted an experiment with rhesus monkey babies. He left them alone (without parents or a buddy) in a cage.

Later they had to make a decision between two objects. Two "mothers." One consisted of wire and a bottle of milk. The other one did not carry milk but was made from cozy, soft fabric.

What would the monkeys do? Which object would they choose? The vital milk mother or the comfortable mother made from fabric?

The majority of monkey babies decided for the fabric mother. They seemingly considered physical closeness more important than food.

Cold and hugs


People and monkeys are comparable to a limited degree. Experiments with people came to the same conclusion, only even more drastic.

Social isolation equals suffering. The hormone oxytocin is released when people hug. That is (among other things) an anti-stress hormone. Also, the blood pressures sink as well as the amount of fear. Even the subjective perception of pain goes down.

Here is info for germ freaks: A 2014 study by the Carnegie Mellon University suggests that hugs can help to get through winter without or at least without severe colds. More about "a hug a day keeps the flu away in this Time.com article HERE.

Participants of the study have been asked how often they embrace other people. Afterward, the 404 participants have been exposed to a common cold virus. They have been put into quarantine, and the researchers took note of how many of them showed symptoms of a cold.

The participants who hugged other people on a regular basis showed significantly fewer symptoms. And if they got sick the illness was less severe. The theory is that a lower stress level decreases the likelihood of becoming ill.

Grave consequences of loneliness


We are social creates that need contact to others for our happiness. People who were isolated in their youth and childhood have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases at a younger age compared to other grown-ups.

A study that looked at retirees found that isolation and loneliness are accurate predictors for how long a person is going to live.

There is a connection between depression and loneliness. Isolation seems to encourage depression. Cognitive decline happens faster when people are lonely.

A different study could show the relation between social isolation and Alzheimer.

What if you don´t have someone to hug


Another connection exists between touches and loneliness. But what if you´re single and do not care for hugging your work mates? In the US 124.6 million people over the age of 16 have been single in 2014 (Source: US Census Beaurau).

The good news: Hugs and touches from people you do not have an emotional connection with help too. Massage could be an option, and many people chose pets.

Pets have demonstrably had a similar positive effect on our health like dealing with people.

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