You’ve been through it more times than you’d care to count: As you trying to manage your growing stress throughout the chaos of a busy work day, there’s (always!) at least one person who is keeping their cool. Don’t they notice the crises you’ve been rushing between?
And have you ever wondered how those de-stressed, ever-calm people keep it all together on a daily basis? The truth is, they’re neither superhuman nor oblivious — they just practice daily habits that keep their stress levels under control. And the good news is that you can learn from them. According to Michelle Carlstrom, the senior director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement at Johns Hopkins University, it’s all about tailoring tricks to fit your needs.
“My number one recommendation is you have to find the strategies that work for you and work to make those strategies a habit,” Carlstrom told The Huffington Post. “I think people feel less stressed — even when they’re really busy — if they’re able to live out personal values that matter to their life. Whatever your values are, if you don’t get to practice them its hard to feel calm.”
By adopting your own personal stress-busters, the chaos of life can become a lot more manageable. But how to start? Carlstrom says relaxed people take an inventory of how they deal with stress and then figure out healthy strategies to balance out coping mechanisms that aren’t beneficial. Below find seven simple strategies calm people make an effort to integrate into their lives on a daily basis.
They focus on finding their center.
It’s no secret that meditation and mindfulness produce numerous health benefits, but perhaps the practice’s most significant impact is the effect it has on stress. People who stay de-stressed find their center through stillness — whether it’s through meditation, simply concentrating on their breath or even prayer, Carlstrom says. “[These practices] help a person push pause, reflect and try to stay in that moment to reduce racing thoughts and reduce interruptions,” she explained. “I believe any strategy that aims to do that absolutely reduces stress.”
Meditation and spirituality even help some of the busiest people in the world unwind. Oprah Winfrey, Lena Dunham, Russell Brand and Paul McCartney have all spoken out on how they’ve benefited from the practice — proving that the activity can fit into even the craziest of schedules.
They express gratitude.
Expressing gratitude doesn’t just make you feel good — it has a direct effect on stress hormones in the body. Research has found that those who were taught to cultivate appreciation and other positive emotions experienced a 23 percent reduction in cortisol — the key stress hormone — than those who did not. And research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that those who record what they are grateful for not only feel happier and more energized, they also have fewer complaints about their health.
According to gratitude researcher Dr. Robert Emmons, there are plenty of benefits in being thankful that contribute to overall well-being. “Philosophers for millennia have talked about gratitude as a virtue that makes life better for self and others, so it seemed to me that if one could cultivate gratefulness it could contribute to happiness, well-being, flourishing — all of these positive outcomes,” Emmons said in a 2010 talk at the GreaterGood Science Center. “What we found in these [gratitude] experiments three categories of benefits: psychological, physical and social.”
During his study on gratitude, Emmons found that those who practiced gratitude also exercised more frequently — a key component in keeping stress in check.