Highly Effective Tips For Relieving Stress
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief, however. What works for one person might not work for another.
And what works for you at home might not be an option when you’re at work or in the community .
So it’s important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Then, you’ll be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.
Ways To Reduce Chronic Stress
When your child is cranky or you’re running late when the report you’ve worked on all day suddenly disappears off your desktop or you’re stuck in a traffic jam you experience stress. Stress is a normal part of life and a part of our body’s way of helping us respond to critical situations.
However when you experience extreme or chronic stress those same mechanisms can take their toll and cause a host of emotional and physiological problems.
1. Know complications
The American Psychiatric Association details some of the physical and mental problems that can be caused by chronic stress. Physically a person can experience symptoms like muscle aches and pains high blood pressure insomnia and more sicknesses from a weakened immune system.
Chronic stress can also contribute to heart disease and obesity as people attempt to alleviate stress by turning to comfort foods the APA explained. Other possible complications include depression and anxiety. Sadness inability to focus irritability and fatigue are also caused by chronic stress as well as a higher likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs.
Unfortunately we can’t always remove the source of our stress. However there are certain coping behaviors and strategies that we can use to help us reduce the uncomfortable feelings and physiological effects of stress.
2. Set limits
3. Get better sleep
4. Try belly breathing
5. Do one thing
6. Get professional help
How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
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Create A Wellness Toolbox
A wellness toolbox is a set of tools that you can use to help soothe yourself when you are feeling down. The tools you find most helpful might not work for someone else so its important to carefully consider what things can help you feel your best. Cuddling your pet, listening to your favorite music, taking a warm bath, or reading a good book are just a few tools you might find helpful. Create a list of the activities you might try when youre feeling bad. Choose an activity to try when youre having a particularly rough time.
Point Your Brain At A Problem
If the stress is more mental than physical and you feel your mind looping around itself, give yourself a discrete task, such as organizing your shoes or doing a word puzzle. When youre stressed, your brain may be saying, weve got a problem to solve so it keeps spinning. Thats a good time to engage your mind, says Kissen. If you give it a task to focus on, youll feel calmer and be better able to deal with whats actually stressing you out.
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Make Time For Leisure Activities
Leisure activities can be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people feel as though their lives are too busy for hobbies, games, or extra fun.
But building time for leisure into your schedule could be key to helping you feel your best. And when you feel better, you’ll perform better, which means leisure time may make your work time more efficient.
Whether you find joy in caring for a garden or you like making quilts, hobbies and leisure are key to living your best life.
What Are The Behavioural And Emotional Effects Of Stress
When you are stressed you may experience many different feelings, including anxiety, irritability or low self-esteem, which can lead to becoming withdrawn, indecisive and tearful.13
You may experience periods of constant worry, racing thoughts, or repeatedly go over the same things in your head. You may experience changes in your behaviour. You may lose your temper more easily, act irrationally or become more verbally or physically aggressive.14 These feelings can feed on each other and produce physical symptoms, which can make you feel even worse. For example, extreme anxiety can make you feel so unwell, that you then worry you have a serious physical condition.
Also Check: What To Do About Stress Eating
How Do You Measure Your Stress Level
Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.
To find out how stressed you are right now, use this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
Distract Yourself With Strong Sensations Or Mental Games
When we are very stressed or anxious, our attention narrows and only focuses on the negatives. If you are having a hard time objectively looking at a situation and making decisions, or if you feel mentally stuck or paralyzed, a quick distraction can allow you to reset.
Although repeatedly avoiding your negative feelings and escaping through Netflix, video games or alcohol can lead to more distress in the long run, occasionally distracting yourself by using strong sensory input or engaging in mental games can offer a respite from acute stress.
This gives you a chance to take a psychological break, widen the lens to see the big picture and gain courage for the next step, said Kelly Koerner, clinical psychologist, chief executive of Jaspr Health and author of Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide.
Chew on a hot pepper, listen to loud music, hold ice cubes in your hands or smell a pungent cheese to briefly shift your attention away from stress. Alternatively, you can make an alphabetical list of car models, flowers, colors, or create a mental top 10 list of your favorite movies, novels or places, Taitz said.
One of my favorite tips is to suck on a lemon, or imagine doing it. Youll start to salivate, engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to relaxation, Van Dijk said.
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Get A Hug From A Loved One
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial.
When you hug someone, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.
Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.
So don’t be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It’s good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day weekends included.
Your routine before going to bed also matters. Consider giving yourself wind-down times. For example, 20 minutes with no devices. Instead, you could read a book or take a bath.
Avoiding potential triggers, like watching TV or scrolling the news on your phone, is key.
Creating a sleep routine will help you fall asleep faster and reduce the chances that youll lie awake, worrying about unfinished tasks or the next morning.
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Simple Ways To Deal With Stress At Work
Research has indicated that the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is highand its only getting higher. According to a survey of more than 2,000 full-time U.S. employees, ages 18-79, more than half of employees find themselves stressed during at least 60 percent of the workweek.
Work stress has significant health consequences that range from relatively benign to potentially serious .
While stress at work is common, finding a low-stress job is hard . A more realistic approach is to adopt effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job. Here are some stress management techniques you can try if you are finding it hard to cope with work stress
The Right Supplement Might Help Quell Stress And Anxiety
Most of us live with a low-simmering level of stress from trying to juggle work and family responsibilities to navigating sudden problems, such as a job loss or health scare. And now, we are all experiencing added stress from the anxiety and unknowns of living in the age of COVID-19. A May 2020 survey by the American Psychological Association found not surprisingly that stress about work and the economy has increased over the past year, especially among parents.
Elevated stress hormones, especially cortisol, can increase inflammation, reduce immunity, and raise the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress can negatively impact every aspect of your health and contribute to a wide range of problems that include:
Stress is a problem we clearly need to address, but what can we do? The good news is that there are numerous strategies that have been shown to be effective for relieving stress, including eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, talking to friends or a mental health professional, and engaging in relaxation techniques and meditation, just to name a few.
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Why We Should Think Of Our Brains As A Muscle That Needs Training
We understand what its like to go to the gym a few times a week and look after our physical bodies, but we need to start looking after our minds theyve never been under this much strain, where the world is quicker than ever.”
Just like our body, our mind needs regular exercise and daily attention, says Jamie. “To be able to manage your mind is a skill like any other skill and weve forgotten that. Why wait until you feel terrible to do it?
Our mind needs regular exercise and daily attention. To be able to manage your mind is a skill.
The goal of exercising your mind is not to find happiness, which Jamie describes as a transient emotion. “All of our emotions are transient. Theres no such thing as a bad emotion,” she says. “When we dont feel happy we panic, but its about accepting that we are always in different stages but knowing that it will pass. Happiness is not perfect it doesnt exist when you get that job or the house or the car were always putting happiness off because were always in this rat race to get there.
By taking a time out each day to perform some brain training exercises, Jamies hope is that the simple process will help you accept when thing arent perfect and give you a different metric for success .
Spend Time With Friends And Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called tend and befriend, and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response .
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety .
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Its hard to feel anxious when youre laughing. Its good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
One way to do this may be to say no more often.
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Best Ways To Manage Stress
Meditation can trigger the antidote to stress, called the relaxation response.
Goal setting and relaxation techniques reduce stress and ease the physical and emotional burdenit can take.
Stressful experiences come in many forms, such as a demanding job, a chronic disease, or an argument with a loved one. But all types of stressorseven stress from positive experiences,such as planning a partycan result in the same physical and emotional burden on health, especially when you’re an older adult. “As we age, our immune systems are less efficient, and adding stress to that can lead to disease progression or the onset of disease,” says Dr. Ann Webster, a health psychologist at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Try The File It Mind Exercise
The File It technique works particularly well if youre lying awake at night thinking of all the things you have to do or havent done, or if youre rehashing something that happened during the day.
These are the steps for performing this exercise:
The idea with this exercise is that youre taking a moment to name your triggers, examine them, and then consciously put them aside with a deadline to tackle them later. In other words, youre validating your own feelings and making a plan to deal with them, one by one, when its a better time.
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Other Types Of Relaxation Techniques
Many de-stressing therapies have common goals. They aim to help you pay attention to your body and focus on aspects of your breathing or other exercises that will lower your blood pressure and increase feelings of well-being. You can try:
- Biofeedback, which measures body functions and helps you learn to control them.
- Self-hypnosis, in which a practitioner teaches you to relax when you hear a phrase or get a nonspoken cue.
- Massage therapy, which can include Swedish, sports, Shiatsu, or other types of massage.
- Music therapy, when a therapist uses music to accomplish health goals.
- Art therapy, which uses art to enhance your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
- Aromatherapy, or using essential oils as a type of treatment.
- Hydrotherapy, which can include soaking, compresses, or even steam baths.
While relaxation practices are mostly safe for heathy people, there have been reports of negative impacts, such as increased stress, bad thoughts, or a fear of losing control. Talk to your doctor about what practice might be best for you, depending on the relaxation technique you want to try and your health.
Talk It Out With A Friend
When youre feeling stressed, 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.
Theyre especially important when youre under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
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Tip : Find Sensory Inspiration
Having trouble identifying sensory techniques that work for you? Look for inspiration around you, from your sights as you go about your day to memories from your past.
Memories. Think back to what you did as a child to calm down. If you had a blanket or stuffed toy, you might benefit from tactile stimulation. Try tying a textured scarf around your neck before an appointment or keeping a piece of soft suede in your pocket.
Watch others. Observing how others deal with stress can give you valuable insight. Baseball players often pop gum before going up to bat. Singers often chat up the crowd before performing. Ask people you know how they stay focused under pressure.
Parents. Think back to what your parents did to blow off steam. Did your mother feel more relaxed after a long walk? Did your father work in the yard after a hard day?
The power of imagination. Once drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, try simply imagining vivid sensations when stress strikes. The memory of your babys face will have the same calming or energizing effects on your brain as seeing her photo. When you can recall a strong sensation, youll never be without a quick stress relief tool.
Take a break from technology
Taking a short hiatus from the television, computer, and cell phone will give you insight on what your senses respond to best.