10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
Stress - in today's world it's nearly impossible to avoid. Here are some ways of attempting to deal with it before it overwhelms you.
Listen to Music
If you're feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing classical music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.
We recommend cello master Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach, but if classical really isn’t your thing, try listening to ocean or nature sounds. It may sound cheesy, but they display similar relaxing effects to music.
- the above are the 'recommended' types of music but really, listen to any music you enjoy very much, add in dancing to it and add the the therapeutic value -
Call a Friend
If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle, and there's no time that this is more evident than when you're under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
Talk Yourself Through It
Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. If this is the case, talking calmly to yourself can be the next best thing. Don’t worry about seeming crazy—just tell yourself why you're stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be OK (trust us, it will be).
- this may have the added benefit of keeping away stressful folks if they overhear you doing this ;) -
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Try to avoid the vending machine and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food.
Laugh It Off
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy. However, bursting into a fit of giggles at your desk may not be the most appropriate way to deal with stress. Our suggestion: watch some classic Monty Python skits like "The Ministry of Silly Walks." Those Brits are so hilarious, you’ll soon be cracking up, rather than cracking up.
A large dose of caffeine causes a short-term spike in blood pressure and may cause your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to go into overdrive. Instead of coffee or energy drinks, try green tea. It has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system.
- As a dedicated caffeine-a-holic I adore my coffee, but, true, when I want to calm down with a hot beverage, green tea is a go-to and it really does seem to calm vs make me more hyper. -
While most of the tips we’ve suggested provide immediate relief, there are also many lifestyle changes that can be more effective in the long run. The concept of “mindfulness” is a large part of meditative and somatic approaches to mental health and has become en vogue in psychotherapy. From yoga and tai chi to meditation and Pilates, these systems of mindfulness incorporate physical and mental exercises that prevent stress from becoming a problem in the first place. Try joining a class—many are free to try on the first day.
- If you are thinking those won't work for me, my brain is too hyped to be 'quiet', I can attest to the fact that it is difficult to slow an overactive mind to a place of quietude, however, yoga, tai chi etc do still help to make you feel less stressed even if you can't completely reach that quiet state through them. -
Exercise (Even For a Minute)
Exercise doesn't necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time. Make it a point to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, manage your time, and do your best to get into bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on our list.
- This one is tough for those of us who can't shut off their brains and have never slept like 'normal' sleepers. All you can do it try your best to maximize your sleep and have it be restful. Some just can't sleep for 8 hours consecutively, but as long as it's a restful sleep it will help to restore you. -
Learn More About Stress Relief
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it. Too much untreated stress can cause potentially serious physical and mental health problems.
The good news is that in many cases, stress is fairly manageable. With some patience and a few useful strategies, you can reduce your stress, whether it's family stress or stress at the workplace.
- I would add learn to recognize your stress reactions/symptoms. Sometimes we can get oblivious to how things impact on us as we rush through our daily lives. So become aware of what stresses you, and then do what calms that stress asap. -
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