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More Joy, Less Stress

8 Tips for Creating a Life With More Joy and Less Stress

Feeling stressed this holiday season? The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can sometimes bring us less joy and more holiday stress.

Read our top tips on how to create a life with more joy and less stress over the holidays, so that you can enjoy the season a little more this year.

8 Tips for Cultivating More Joy, Less Stress

Here are eight guidelines on how to live a life with less stress:

1. Be here now.

Another way of putting this is, “Live in the moment.” If we live our lives always waiting for some hoped for the point in the future, we discard the here and now, which is all we really have. American author Henry James wrote, “Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”

2. Clarify your priorities and control what you can.

Take time to plan and prioritize. The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

3. Get enough rest.

Sleep is restorative and is one of our body’s ways to mitigate stress. Research by Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, found that happiness gained by getting an extra hour of sleep each night is equivalent to getting a $60,000 raise. How do we get more sleep? A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Sleep Medicine Institute found that some simple guidelines can help improve sleep duration and quality significantly:

  • Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy
  • Get out of bed if you’re not sleeping
  • Get up at the same time every day
  • Spend less time in bed

4. Have empathy for yourself.

Those stressed out from caregiving, parenting or working should try not to be too hard on themselves. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and don’t blame yourself for difficulties or bad outcomes. During the hardest times, work to reassure and soothe yourself. Try reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can under difficult circumstances.

5. Laugh often.

Laughter is a healthy way of relieving tension. It decreases levels of stress hormones while increasing the primary neurotransmitter for contentment, endorphin, our body’s own natural pain reliever. It also brings people together, which is always beneficial.

6. Look on the bright side of life.

Optimism, or positive thinking, has been linked by researchers to increased health and happiness. While there’s some evidence that our level of optimism is genetic, that doesn’t mean we that we don’t have any choice in the matter or that we shouldn’t make optimism a goal. That would be, well, pessimistic. A recent study in Medical Daily found that optimism is more important than one’s physical health in determining well-being.

7. Practice self-care.

Body and mind are interconnected so our bodies will be best poised to cope with stress when we are in reasonable shape and well-nourished. Exercise, of course, is key. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.” Nutrition is also crucial. By now, most of us understand what constitutes a healthy diet, but how we consume our food may be just as important as what we eat. Take the time to savor your food.

8. Socialize.

Medical and psychological communities agree that it’s important to spend quality time with family and friends. A groundbreaking survey by Gallup found that social time is crucial to happiness and well-being. Gallup contacted 140,000 individuals and asked them how happy they had been on the day prior. Respondents were also asked about how many hours they spent socializing the day before (among numerous other questions). Unsurprisingly, there was a direct correlation between social time and reported happiness.

Organize regular monthly get-togethers with friends in a social setting that you can look forward to. Also, take advantage of opportunities to make socializing therapeutic. If you become overly stressed from caring for an aging parent, consider joining a support group, for instance.

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