Guides on how to reduce stress at first glance often appear as overoptimistic projections of an ideal lifestyle and seemingly out of touch with many peoples’ day-to-day reality. Yet, there really are stress reduction techniques that can help relieve stress amidst the constant pressure to get as much done in as little time as possible. One of them is “decelaration”.
“Acceleration” is a phenomenon inherent to modern everyday life. Yet the way it affects us is very much something we have control over. Here are a few ideas on how to reduce stress and “decelerate” your life.
The „Acceleration“ of Daily Life
It’s a paradox: technological innovations such as the dish washer, smartphone apps or even timers should actually create less work, or at least make work easier. You might even go as far as to say they allow us more time to relax. This couldn’t be further from the truth: All this time saved is not time earned. The more time we have, the more we try to pack into our day – and the more this stresses us out at the end of the day.
German Sociologist and Professor Hartmut Rosa has put a name to this modern-day phenomenon: “Acceleration” of the tempo of modern life. According to Rosa, acceleration has become a defining element of the transforming process of modernization – a blessing and a curse of modern times in its own right.
The increased number of possibilities offered up by the tone of everyday life sets us under growing pressure to accomplish as much as possible in the least amount of time, to make the most of life and not to miss one moment of it. Yet they do not lead us to greater happiness and satisfaction in our lives, rather to the opposite. In the worst case we begin to feel the symptoms of burnout – that is: sheer physical and emotional exhaustion.
How to Reduce Stress: “Decelerate” Your Day
Take the tempo down a notch throughout your day with a couple simple methods involving mindfulness and awareness. These stress reduction techniques allow you to begin to relieve stress instead of building on it. We’ve gathered a couple tips for you to integrate into your daily routine below. Give them a try and see which work the best for you.
1. Just Say No.
Sounds easy, but in reality it’s often pretty hard. Take a rain check on that invite to coffee with your in-laws if you’re not feeling up to it. If it’s simply too much, say no to taking care of your friend’s house cat on the other end of the city.
If you at any point realize that certain tasks or appointments are piling up and that’s stressing you out, just remember that a friendly and polite “no, not today” is okay.
2. Relax While you Wait
Whether it’s waiting in line at the supermarket, sitting in traffic on the way home or the delay in the arrival of your next train: (short) wait times stress us the most due to the fact that we’re so used to knocking things out quickly and at the press of a button, simply because we’re in a hurry. Getting worked up about the situation doesn’t change it, rather more likely makes it worse. Precisely for this reason is why we should use these small moments to breathe – one way to reduce stress instead of build on it.
Use such situations to concentrate on yourself, control your breathing and focus on your emotions. Try to pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling in that moment and remind yourself that it’s no use getting yourself wound up over the situation itself. You’ll start to notice a few things: Using this time wisely will leave you more relaxed and the time will fly right on by.
3. The Stress Relieving Digital Detox
Acceleration of daily life has a lot to do with digitalization. Surrounded by digital media, we’re constantly being bombarded with information and are subject to a relentless pressure to stay connected and remain reachable at all times – all so we don’t miss anything. Stressful, isn’t it?
Here’s how to reduce stress: Completing a “digital detox” involves consciously going offline and leaving yourself unplugged for a longer period of time. Shutting your phone off does anything but shut you off from the world – if anything it does the complete opposite. Leaving your phone off helps you concentrate on and enjoy what’s in front of you instead of what’s going on somewhere else. It also helps you become acutely aware of what role your devices play in your daily routine.
Quickly enough our constant connection to and through technology has become commonplace – one where the saying “you don’t even know it there’s until it’s gone” offers up an entirely different perspective. Shut the whole operation down once in a while.
Actively reducing your electricity use is also a step towards living a more minimalist lifestyle. Try it out and check out our guide 12 Practical Tips for Minimalist Living: Make your Life easier for more on minimalist simplicity.
4. Live in the Moment
We sit staring at our computers at work but our minds are far off somewhere else – whether busy daydreaming planning your next vacation, completing a mental run-down of your shopping list, on Instagram or Facebook: distractions are abundant.
When you start to realize you’re losing focus, try to gather your thoughts and focus on the current moment. Where are you? What are you doing? How are you feeling? With just a bit of practice we can learn how to relieve stress by slowing things down – by “decelerating” our thoughts and bringing your mind back to where your body is.
5. Take Some Time Off – or Just Do Nothing
Taking some time for yourself doesn’t need to take place on the other side of the world vacationing on a beach. Take a day off or just another hour – any amount of time away from the task at hand or daily stressors is bound to have a positive effect. Write in your diary, get some fresh air, go hiking or biking out in the woods, read an inspiring book, relax in your bathtub, meditate to calming music or simply do absolutely nothing at all.
Everybody has their own way of relaxing. The key is to leave space in your calendar for the time you want to take off.
6. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is a form of mediation originating from Buddhism teachings. In essence, mindfulness techniques center around consciously experiencing everyday moments and passively taking note of the thoughts and feelings these bring about – that is, without judgement.
This is one effective way to reduce stress – however hectic your day may be. Numerous scientific studies have cited positive effects of mindfulness techniques on our health as well as overall well-being.
7. Reduce Stress: Keep Physically Active
Getting outside and exercising is a great way to reduce stress. Decelerate your everyday routine by going for a light jog or walk in the park. When it comes to reducing stress, many look towards calming activities such as yoga. These train the body, mind and soul to work in unison and help to relieve stress.
In the end, it’s not as important which type of sport or activity you do as long as you enjoy doing it and can focus all of your concentration solely on the activity itself while doing it.
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This article was translated from German by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Stress abbauen: 7 Tipps, die dein Leben entschleunigen.affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.