There’s no doubt about it, life can be extremely stressful sometimes. It’s important to find ways to manage that stress so that it doesn’t lead to major health problems down the road.
When we get stressed out, our bodies instantly go into a “fight or flight” response. Although we may not be in any danger, our body reacts as if we are, flooding the system with hormones like cortisol and causing rapid heart rate and heavy breathing. This physiological response can lead to chronic health problems like headaches, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.
The good news is that you can manage your stress levels quickly using a few simple techniques, and the more you practice these methods, the faster you’ll be able to get a handle on your stress in the future. Next time you’re feeling anxious or worried, try one of the strategies below.
1. Take A Ten Minute Walk
A simple ten-minute stroll around the block helps boost endorphins (the happy hormones) and significantly lowers stress levels. This doesn’t have to be a power walk; just getting outside and moving around will help.
2. Look At Cute Animals On The Internet
Scientific studies have proven that watching those cat videos on YouTube is actually good for you! There’s no shortage of adorable animal pics and videos on the web, so next time you need a mood boost, go get yourself a fluffy kitten fix!
3. Listen To Music
Music floods your brain with feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine. While classical music has been proven to slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones, just about any music you truly enjoy will have a beneficial effect on your feeling of wellbeing.
Believe it or not, laughing is SO good for you! Laughing relieves physical tension and leaves your muscles more relaxed for up to forty-five minutes. Laughing also boosts the immune system and decreases stress hormones. So put on your favorite sitcom, watch a funny YouTube video, find a standup comedian you love on Netflix, or check out some funny web memes online. It’s not a waste of time — it’s good for you!
Just ten minutes of simple meditation helps decrease anxiety and improve cardiovascular health. You don’t have to do any fancy “training” either; just find a YouTube video and give it a try. Sometimes just sitting in silence for ten minutes and trying to clear your mind is all you need to feel a whole lot better.
As the saying goes, “breath is life.” Practicing deep breathing sends a message to the brain that says, “We are safe, it’s okay to relax.” Simple breathing exercises like focusing on inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of five, then exhaling slowly through your mouth can instantly reduce tension, relieve stress, and help you feel more relaxed.
7. Buy And Care For A Plant
House plants help clean the air in your home, eliminating toxins that are subtly influencing your stress levels without you even knowing it. Tending to a plant helps promote relaxation and reduce your anxiety; concentration is also improved. Plus, they’re pretty!
8. Limit Screen Time, Especially Before Bed
We have all read the news and we know we should not be staring at our phones while lying in bed… but actually unplugging is a whole other matter. If you’re feeling really stressed out, why not put the phone or tablet down for the night and try one of these other tactics to relax. The world of screens will still be there in the morning.
9. Have A Nice Cup Of Tea
Having a warm cup of aromatic herbal tea has a soothing and mildly sedative effect on the entire body. Try peppermint, chamomile, or Sleepy Time to help you unwind before bed.
10. Have A Small Piece of Chocolate
Studies have shown that people who eat a small piece of chocolate every day have lower levels of stress hormones. The key here is not to have too much!
11. Spend Time With Friends
Spending time with a trusted friend reduces your production of cortisol and boosts endorphins!
12. Do Yoga Or Gentle Stretching
Even if you’re just sitting at your desk at work, you can still work some stretches into your day. Stretch your fingers, arms, wrists, ankles, legs, toes, waist, neck and spine. Just a moment or two of gentle stretching relieves stress and results in clearer thinking and increased productivity.
13. Do A Puzzle
It seems counterintuitive, but making your brain work harder actually helps reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Try doing a jigsaw or crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or try a brain trainer app for your phone.
14. Knit, Crochet, Or Craft
Similar to doing a puzzle, creating a project with your hands can give your brain something to work on, helping alleviate stress.
15. Get A Massage
If you can squeeze a professional massage into your budget, go for it! Even if you can’t go see a pro, consider massaging your partner and having him or her do likewise. Just having human hands on your skin provides a rush of endorphins that will leave you feeling more relaxed.
16. Take A Warm Bath
There’s a reason why bathing an infant helps soothe them before bedtime! Immersing yourself in warm water eases muscle tension and promotes a sense of wellbeing.
17. Read A Book
Take your mind off your worries and escape into a good book.
18. Practice Optimism
It may sound trite, but training yourself to focus on the positive and see the silver lining has a tremendously beneficial effect on your overall outlook. Looking at the bright side might not come naturally to you, but practice does indeed make perfect.
19. Try An Oil Diffuser
Many people swear by diffusing essential oils into the air to help them relax. Choose calming scents like lavender, rose, or chamomile to add aromatherapy to your arsenal of tools to use against stress.
20. Use Progressive Relaxation
This incredibly simple technique has results that you can feel instantly. All you have to do is systematically tense certain muscle groups in your body, such as your neck and shoulders. Next, release the tension and notice how your muscles feel afterward. Do this all over your body and you will feel amazing!
One last stress buster? Read InspireMore every day… and be sure to share to help others feel happier and more content!