Stress, Joy & You

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Want proof? A study … shows that patients who took a vigorous walk and raised their heart rates to more than beats per minute reduced the tension in their bodies by 20 percent. Meditate and breathe deeply.

How to Access Your Creative Joy—Even Under Stress

Spend at least 15 minutes here first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Sit and close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

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Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, focusing on the sound and rhythm of your breathing. Mentally visualize peace and calmness. Your day will start and end on a stress-free note. Eat a stress-relieving diet. Can what you eat really help relieve stress? You bet! Take stress off your digestive system by eating at least seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in water content and, therefore, easily digestible.

Especially beneficial are antioxidant-rich leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale and collards. Also, to benefit from an array of antioxidants, choose an array of colors when it comes to your fruits and vegetables.

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Keep your body hydrated. As a child, I used to climb a tree in the backyard or go up on the roof when I was feeling upset or overwhelmed.

How Can I Find Work That Will Give Me Joy?

Research helps explain this effect. The power of nature is that it not only elicits joy; it also reduces stress. Studies show that being out in nature quiets a part of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which decreases our tendency to brood over problems, making us literally feel more carefree. Play is, in many ways, the opposite of stress.


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It makes us temporarily forget about two of the things that often make us most stressed out: our sense of time and our sense of self-consciousness. Think about what it felt like to play tag as a kid. Play gives us a powerful break from stress, restoring our resources so we can handle the other things that life throws our way.

How to Overcome Stress by Seeing Other People’s Joy

But emotions are contagious, so if we want to find joy amid stress, it benefits us to seek out our most joyful friends in troubled times. Because emotions can be transmitted even just by tone of voice, a brief call with an upbeat amigo can be a joyful break that can have lasting effects.

For more ideas on how to find joy amid stressful circumstances, check out the post: 5 Ways to Find Joy in Tough Times. This post is part of the Ask Ingrid series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

Tips for Creating a Life with More Joy and Less Stress

The Aesthetics of Joy is now a book! Hiya Ingrid! Great stuff here — thanks for your amazing work! The Aesthetics of Joy brings you ideas and tools for living a more joyful life backed by scientific research.

Shed the Stress, Catch Some Joy

Founded by designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, we celebrate the power of color, light, pattern, and shape to create a happier, healthier world. Learn More get joyletters in your inbox.

Hey, Guess What?

Let me say that again: Joy is a form of resilience. Widen the aperture Stress narrows our focus, causing us to ruminate on our worries and fixate on our challenges. Really… it takes constant reminders, inspiration, support, and practice!

But… it is truly worth it. The payoff is better energy, focus, health, and happiness! However, most of us reach adulthood and advance in careers with no formal education in how to live successfully on this continuum!


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Where was that course on getting your brain to cooperate? The first is CALM. But great news: With practice, you can quickly train your physiology to shift your brain state to calm. There are a zillion ways to invoke the relaxation response that changes your chemistry and brings blood flow back to your frontal lobe, your smarter brain.

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