8 Methods That Psychologists Use to Reduce Stress

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Handling our stress levels isn’t always easy in this hectic modern world of ours. Psychologists are experts at helping people solve their problems, but have you ever wondered what they do to manage their own stress? We wondered the same thing – so we went to the source!

8. Write down whatever comes to mind

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Dr. John Duffy advises making notes to reduce stress. “Thoughts, situations, relationships with people, article ideas. I write down and give structure to everything that comes to my mind. This creative process is really helpful because we forget about problems, our head becomes clear, the tension goes down. After that, I can see things from a different perspective.”

7. Cook something – but use good ingredients

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Like many of us, therapist and teacher Jeffrey Sumber likes to find comfort in food when stress levels start rising. However, he advises really taking the time to do it right and make something good for you with great ingredients. “I spend a lot of time going through the store, picking out the ingredients,” he says. “Then, I cut them carefully, prepare the dressings, and slowly eat the dish. I often post the results on Facebook so as to make my friends envious!”

6. Flex and release

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This method of relaxation was developed by American psychotherapist Kevin Chapman. It’s based on the simple principle that after any strong muscle tension comes strong relaxation. Just tighten up your muscles for 10 seconds, then focus on the sensation of relaxation for the next 20 seconds.

5. Choose how to react

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Susan Krauss Whitbourne doesn’t try to fight stress. Instead, she uses a helpful mantra when she encounters a stressful situation. “I can’t change the situation but I can change my reaction,” she says. It’s all about taking a negative (such as sauce spilling on your shirt) and turning it into something positive instead.

4. Stop the flow of negativity

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Martin Seligman has a unique way of clearing his mind. He claps his hands and forcibly tells himself “Stop! I’ll think about this later” out loud whenever he’s getting overwhelmed by negative thoughts.

3. Engage in your hobbies

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Having a designated time to engage in a hobby. Whether it’s hiking, cooking, playing music, painting, or whatever else, take the time to do some activity that makes you happy and takes your mind off things.

2. Stimulate your nerves

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Psychologist Toni Berhard suggests using physiology to trick your brain. By swiping your lips with your finger, you touch nerves located in your lips that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down.

1. Don’t forget the classics

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There’s a lot to be said about the tried and true methods of de-stressing that many of us have already heard about like listening to calming music, taking a bath, clearing up your clutter, or just hanging out with some good friends. All of these can have a powerful, uplifting effect.

The main takeaway here is that you need to spend a little time and distance from your problem. Clear your head, then attack it again with renewed vigor.