We've all heard about and have experienced stress. We live in a fast paced society. Everything must be done now. This is not realistic and can cause unnecessary stress in our lives. It's important to slow down and experience "being in the moment."

We are always worried about the future. We really can't predict the future, so why try? Not only are we always trying to predict the future, we predict the most horrible things will happen. If you are going to spend a lot of time trying to predict the future, then at least have a happy ending. You will eventually get that promotion, buy a home, take your dream vacation, etc. But, you need to give it time.

Here are 10 simple ways to reduce stress:

  1. Be mindful. This is the practice of staying in the present. We can't go back, and like I said earlier, we can't predict the future. So, why not stay in the present. Savor the moment. Add, at least 5 minutes of mindfulness to your day. Set aside a time for it everyday, and stick to it. After a while, you will notice a change and you will feel more relaxed when life seems out of control.
  2. Call a friend. Good friendships are important for a healthy lifestyle. The next time you feel stressed, take some time out and call a friend. This is not the same as dumping. This will give you a chance to talk about how you are feeling. Your friend doesn't have to fix your problem, they just need to listen.
  3. Talk yourself through it. Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. You may wake up in the middle of the night with many thoughts racing through your head. Talking calmly to yourself, can be the next best thing. Don't worry, you aren't crazy. You'd be surprised at how many people do this. First, look at what you are stressed out about and what you can do about it. Also, remind yourself you can get through it and that everything will be alright.
  4. Listen to music. This is one of my favorites. Take a break and listen to some music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the body and the brain. This can also lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Try some classical music. You can also listen to ocean and nature sounds. There are many to choose from these days.
  5. Laugh it off. Laughter really is the best medicine. When you laugh you release endorphins that improve your mood, and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Watch a funny movie or comedian on YouTube. You can watch a movie with friends or alone. Just make some time for laughter in your life.
  6. Eat healthy. Stress levels and a healthy diet are closely related. It's easy to eat out of convenience rather than health. With a fast food restaurant at almost every corner, it can be hard to resist. But, this is when you need to be strong. Your diet could be killing you, and it's really a simple fix. Start by planning your meals ahead. Try to avoid sugary snacks, and keep plenty of fruits and vegetables nearby. 
  7. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. This doesn't mean you need to be a body builder, this just means that you need to make time for exercise. The more you add to your life the better. The next time you go to the grocery store, rather than fighting for a close parking spot, park further away. Start by adding more steps in your day. Have a walking meeting at work with your boss. The endorphins are great for your brain.
  8. Breathe easy. Stop and take a deep breath. This may sound like a cliche, but it's true. This helps slow you down and keep you in the present. It is also simple. The next time you take a break, shut the door or go somewhere you can be alone. Breathe into the count of 4, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale to the count of 4, and then hold it for another 4 seconds. Do this for a few minutes. I do this all the time, and I find the effects to be better than caffeine.
  9. Sleep better. Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. But, this is how our body recharges. Turn of all gadgets, including the T.V. at least an hour before bed. Dim the lights, don't read anything that is scary or that will keep you awake. Try to go to bed and get up at a regular time. 
  10. Learn more about stress. It's important that you know what causes stress in your life. This is not the same for everyone. If stress goes too long untreated in your life, it has the potential to cause a mental illness. 
The good news is that in many cases stress is manageable. The sooner you get it treated the better. Although, it's never too late. The first step is just admitting you are stressed out. It's important to be around people who understand the importance of talking about your stress.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has helped many people overcome stress in their life, and live a balanced life. For more information, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com. 

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