4 Smart lifehacks to reduce daily stress
Are you staring at the ceiling, not able to sleep due to stress? Feeling overwhelmed and wondering what stress does to your body? Do you want to reduce the amount of stress that you feel in your daily life? Then you’ve come to the right place. Below are my 4 favorite smart life hacks to reduce daily stress. Enjoy!
1. Reduce cognitive loops
Have you ever left the house wondering if you left the gas on or locked your door? This causes a sense of anxiety: As a result, you cannot shake the feeling and your attention is drawn towards thinking about the gas or locking your door. This experience is called a cognitive loop and is a cause of a lot of stress.
In our daily lives, we have to deal with a tremendous amount of small tasks. Small cognitive loops such as: “I have to take out the trash”, “I should call my parents”, “I need to file my taxes” are constantly taking up mental space.
All these small tasks do not seem significant on their own, but as a total contribute a large amount to your daily stress.
Reducing the number of cognitive loops in your daily life can drastically improve your levels of stress. In addition to that, it opens up mental space for the actual important tasks.
The most important step in reducing cognitive loops is writing down all the small tasks. You can buy a to-do list organizer here. Next, try to close a loop as fast as possible, if it can be done within 3 minutes, do it now.
Lastly, reduce distractions when working on important projects. Switch your phone to flight mode or switch off notifications.
2. Switch to tea!
Caffeine has been shown to contribute to anxiety and stress in certain individuals. Caffeine increases cortisol, adrenalin, and dopamine after ingestion. Out of these three, cortisol is the most important.
Cortisol is named the “stress hormone” because it is released as a reaction to physical and mental stress. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that drinking large amounts of caffeine results in feelings of anxiety and jitteriness.
Coffee is the main source of caffeine in today’s society. Various health benefits have been attributed to coffee. Most people report feeling awake, productive and focused after a cup of black gold.
The downsides coffee are feelings of anxiety and stress, jitteriness and brain fog. This is due to the high caffeine content (up to 200 mg/cup). To reduce the stress-related side effects of caffeine you could switch to tea.
Tea has a much lower caffeine content. A regular cup of tea has between 20-45 mg of caffeine for green tea, 6-20 mg of caffeine for white tea and 40-90 mg of caffeine for black tea.
In addition to having a lower caffeine content, tea also contains a compound called L-Theanine. This compound has been shown to reduce the negative side-effects of caffeine consumption and is even able to lower perceived and physiological stress. You can buy your 200mg l-theanine supplements here.
Following a beverage containing 200 mg of l-theanine, in addition to smaller doses of PS, alpha GPC and chamomile, subjective stress response was found to be significantly reduced one hour post-dose, and cortisol response was significantly reduced three hours post-dose.– Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an l-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial
3. Train your attention
Meditation was originally meant to help to understand the deeper meaning of life by Buddhist monks. These days, meditation is practiced by a large number of people all over the world. From very successful CEOs to high school students, meditation has become a widespread practice.
Mindful meditation is a branch of meditation that focusses on being present in the moment. Accepting all the emotions, thoughts and distractions that arise, observing them without judgment and staying focussed on the here and now. This is usually done by focussing on your breath or a specific body part. View our easy 5-minute meditation guide.
Mindful meditation has been shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety in all demographics. 5 to 10 minutes a day is enough to provide you with the stress-reducing benefits. In addition to reduced stress levels, mindful meditation practices have reported better emotional wellbeing, better sleep, and more fulfilling relationships.
You can start mindful meditation for 5 to 10 minutes a day using a simple guided meditation app like Calm or Headspace. Alternatively, you can practice mindfulness meditation on your own by following these simple steps (Mindfulness meditation in 5 easy steps). Want to learn more? You can buy my favorite mindful meditation book here.
The last tip is exercising regularly. Regular exercise helps you to control your weight (view our losing fat without losing muscle guide), improves your hormones, promotes a healthy heart and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.
When you are stressed, fight or flight hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol flood your body causing a fight-or-flight response. Stress is rarely caused by a fight-or-flight response but the mental and physical effects of such a response are still noticeable.
Physical exercise can be used to reduce your stress by helping the metabolization of these stress hormones. In addition to that, both strength training and cardio increase the “feel good” hormones like endorphins in your body.
This results in feelings of happiness and contentedness, which in turn can relieve stress. Exercise can also act as an easy distraction from your life stressors.
Go for a walk in the park, a run or an intense strength-training workout. As long as you get moving you reduce your stress, improve your sleep and increase feelings of happiness.
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