Good Daytime Habits For Relieving Nighttime Stress
In addition to relaxation techniques, there are steps you can take during the day to relieve stress at night. A common aid is to exercise during the day. In addition to other health benefits, daytime exercise has been linked to better sleep in patients with generalized anxiety disorders. Exercise can also assist with issues such as insomnia. Another strategy for sleep hygiene overall is to wake up at a regular time. Even on the weekends, research shows that consistent wake times are an important component of sleep hygiene.
Keep in mind there is no exact schedule for how quickly youll be able to feel less stressed and anxious before going to sleep. However, consistent practice of relaxing techniques can help long-term. If you have questions or concerns about which strategy or strategies are right for you, consult your physician.
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Practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense those muscles intended.
- Loosen clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
- Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
- When youre ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
- Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
- Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
- It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
Identify Pressure Points To Calm Anger And Anxiety
Going for a massage or getting acupuncture is a wonderful way to manage anxiety and anger. But its not always easy to find time in your day to make it happen. The good news is, you can do acupressure on yourself for instant anxiety relief.
This method involves putting pressure with your fingers or your hand at certain points of the body. The pressure releases the tension and relaxes your body.
One area to start with is the point where the inside of your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Press your thumb on this area for two minutes. This can help relieve tension.
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How To Relax Amid Holiday Stress
The holidays can be a time of celebration and togetherness, but they can also take a toll on your mental health. You may be struggling with too many obligations, pressure to host the perfect get-together, a difficult family situation, or financial worries. Whatever your stressors are, youre not alone, and there are things you can do to make the holidays easier on yourself.
Holiday Stress and Depression Are Normal
Many people experience a decline in their mental health at this time of year. Those with existing mental illnesses are the most vulnerable. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with a mental health condition report their symptoms worsening. Depression statistics also indicate that this mental illness gets especially bad during the holiday season.
Stress is a significant trigger for mental health symptoms in everyone, regardless of our underlying struggles. A survey of American adults reported that 44% of people find the holidays stressful and 18%, extremely stressful.
Why Do the Holidays Provoke Anxiety?
The holidays stress people out for many reasons. Some are personal and unique to each of us. For instance, maybe you have a difficult aunt you only ever have to interact with at this time of year. Other factors are more general:
- Financial stress and overspending
- Busy schedules due to extra holiday-related obligations
- Social gatherings that make you uncomfortable
- Overindulging with food and alcohol
Coping With Holiday Stress
How Could Relaxation Help Me
Exploring relaxation can help you look after yourself when you’re feeling stressed or worried. Relaxation might not make what you are stressed or worried about go away. But it can give you a mental break from these feelings and help you refocus.
There are lots of relaxation exercises out there. Many can be done in a short time with no equipment. Have a look at the tips and ideas below to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life.
Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you. Just try the ones that do.
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Talk Out Your Feelings
Many times, people want to avoid talking about problems. This is because they dont think anyone will understand or because they dont feel like they have anyone to talk to. But there is always someone who will listen and try to understand what youre going through. The important thing is just finding that person or people, whether its family members, friends, your pastor, a rabbi, a doctor, etc.
How To Keep Calm Under Pressure
Stress is a normal part of modern life, but if youre often faced with stressful situations and feel panicked or overwhelmed trying to deal with them, you may benefit from learning some coping strategies that can help you to stay calm.
Pressure can put the body into fight or flight mode an evolutionary tactic that releases hormones designed to get you ready to either fight or run from danger. In modern times, stress triggers these hormones but theyre not so helpful when the danger comes from giving a presentation at work rather than being faced with a wild animal. If you frequently find yourself feeling anxious, or panicked, your fight or flight mode is probably being triggered too easily and its helpful to learn how to calm yourself down when youre entering this state.
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Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
Go Outside For A Few Minutes
Dr. Monique Tello, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that sometimes, getting outside for a quick walk or fresh air is a great option to reduce stress quickly.
If someone is feeling very stressed and they have the chance to change their environment, get fresh air, see nature water, trees they should, Tello told TODAY. Exercise, take a brisk walk.
This strategy is great for people who feel restless or unable to concentrate and there are studies to support its effectiveness, she added.
Were always going to be faced with challenging situations, but they dont always have to stress us out, Tello said.
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Be Aware Of False Relaxation Methods
Try to avoid the following things they can actually add to stress:
- Using drugs or alcohol as a response to stressful feelings or situations. The stressful situation will still be there after the high has worn off, along with the added stresses that drug and alcohol use bring negative health effects, financial stress and consequences of risky behaviour during the high.
- Engaging in behaviours that might temporarily make you feel in control, but only adds to stress in the end bullying, cyberbullying, vandalism, graffiti or other criminal behaviour.
- Giving in to peer pressure to feel better, and doing something that others tell you will help your stress, but that you know is wrong. This kind of activity harms self-esteem and has a negative effect on your self-image and confidence.
Establish A Ritual To Get In The Mood
This is especially important for those of us who are working from home. When we work from home, the lines between work and personal life can become blurry because we dont have the usual routines that help signal the beginning and end of the workday. For example, we dont have a commute or the act of physically leaving the office. It might not seem like a huge deal, but those rituals are actually super helpful when it comes to telling your brain its time to get out of work mode and into rest mode.
Luckily, we can create our own transition rituals . When its time to transition from the workday into relaxation time, try picking up a new habit that can function as a signal. Take a walk, meditate, exercise, do a quick chore, write your to-do list for the next day, listen to Closing Time by Semisonicwhatever helps you tell yourself, Okay, the workday is done and its time to rest. Then continue to tap into the intentionality we talked about earlier by setting boundaries by not checking your email, ruminating on the workday, or doing whatever else can suck you back in.
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Invest In Better Stress Management And Enjoy A More Relaxed Mind All The Time
When the stress of life gets to you, and nothing seems to be going right, it can feel like a storm is raging in your mind. Its at these times that having at least a few dependable mind relaxation tips in your back pocket is extremely useful and beneficial.
Use the techniques, tips, and tricks mentioned in this article to enjoy a more relaxed mind all the time and particularly in those times of challenging stress and struggle.
Switch Off Your Phone
Our phones can be a constant source of distraction. Emails, messages, phone calls, notifications, news feeds, sports scores etc etc. Try to get into the healthy habit of not using your phone or having it beside you 24/7. Better still, get into the productive habit of either not using it for the first hour of the day or switching it off in the evening an hour before you go to bed.
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Gain Power And Calm With A Superman Pose
If you do Bikram yoga, the Superman pose is basically the full Locust position , except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. You lie on your belly on the floor and extend your arms in front of you. At the same time, you extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for 10 seconds. Its a great exercise if you are groggy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.
Managing Unhealthy Habits And Destressing Is Key To Change
Constant stress whether from a traffic-choked daily commute, unhappy marriage, or heavy workload can have real physical effects on the body. It has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including mood, sleep, and appetite problems and yes, even heart disease.
Doctors don’t know exactly how chronic stress affects the heart. Most likely, stress triggers inflammation, a known instigator of heart disease, but that hasn’t been proven. “I think the conventional opinion is that stress is bad for your heart, but the data are much murkier,” says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Yet stress may influence heart disease in more subtle ways. “Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease,” Dr. Bhatt says. For example, when stressed, people often eat unhealthy food and don’t have the energy or time to exercise. Stress can also lead us into other heart-damaging behaviors, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Breaking the connection requires both learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits. These five simple tips can help you do just that.
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Take A Break From Your Phone
Constantly checking your phone for the latest notification can overwhelm you, according to Kristine Carlson, co-author of the book Dont Sweat the Small Stuff,” which she wrote with her late husband Richard Carlson.
We are so tied to our technology, she said. Email, text message, checking your Instagram all of that, its very addictive.
Instead, she advised, really unplug from your email or phone and take what Carlson refers to as a golden pause.
By snoozing your notifications, you create the mental space to focus on yourself and how youre feeling. While you focus on yourself, practice breathing slowly, closing your eyes and turning your thoughts toward something youre grateful for, Carlson suggested.
Research backs up this up: Focusing on gratitude has been shown to increase a persons level of happiness.
Interact With An Animal
Furry friends are known stress reducers.
There is a large body of scientific literature proving that interaction with animals stimulates the release of oxytocin in the brain, which, in turn, reduces anxiety and improves mood.
Even if it’s a quick pet of a dog that’s on a walk outside the building, that just might be enough to brighten your day!
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Risks Of Not Relaxing Enough
Stress is a part of everyday life. It can be a helpful thing that motivates people to act, and can even save your life in a dangerous situation. Most stresses we experience are small, like getting caught in traffic on the way to a party or losing an earring on the train to work.
The same helpful fight-or-flight instincts we get from these small stressful events in our life can backfire on us if we dont take time to relax. Relaxation doesnt just feel good, its also important for good health.
Stress from work, family, social obligations, and even exercise will wear you out over time if you dont set aside time to relax. Some of the negative effects of not relaxing enough include:
Risks of too much stress
- frequent headaches and pain throughout the body
- sleeping problems, such as insomnia or nightmares
- forgetfulness and confusion
- chest pain and heart problems
- stress-related illness
- increased or decreased appetite, often with weight gain or loss
- social isolation and loneliness
- increased use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol
- crying spells and feelings of depression, sometimes with thoughts of suicide
- loss of interest in punctuality and appearance
- increased irritability and overreaction to small annoyances
- poor performance at work or in school
Stress Relief Techniques To The Rescue
Activities that switch on the bodys natural relaxation response feel great, Buenaver says. And they have been proven by research to improve sleep. They help by reducing the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and by slowing your heart rate and breathing. Your body and mind calm down.
Yoga, tai chi and meditation are helpful stress relief techniques. So are these two simple exercises that Buenaver recommends to patients who are struggling with sleepless nights.
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. It may help to close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly in and out for about five minutes. As you inhale, breathe down into your belly. Focus on your breath.
- If youd like, repeat to yourself, Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping.
Progressive muscle relaxation:
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Take a few gentle breaths, in and out.
- Begin tensing groups of muscles one at a time as you breathe. Hold the tension as you inhale, then release it as you exhale. Take a few breaths as you notice how relaxed each muscle group feels.
- Start with the muscles in your head, neck and face. Move down to your shoulders, hands and arms, back, stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet.
- Repeat for any areas that are still tense.
As you go through this exercise, feel the presence and absence of tension so you can spot lingering tension and do something about it, Buenaver says.
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Chillax With Some Chocolate
When you need a quick break, break off a square of dark chocolate to boost your brain health and reduce stress Berk L, et al. . Dark chocolate increases acute and chronic EEG power spectral density response of gamma frequency for brain health: enhancement of neuroplasticity, neural synchrony, cognitive processing, learning, memory, recall, and mindfulness meditation. DOI: 10.1096/fasebj.2018.32.1_supplement.878.10 . As an added bonus, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate, but it hits the sweet tooth sweet spot.