Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. The playlist below will help you to understand how stress works and start feeling better. These exercises can be done anywhere and are designed to help you feel more relaxed in general, as well as helping you feel calmer if you are becoming stressed.
This playlist is free to download, and you can also stream it using the Soundcloud website or app. You can download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you. If you’re listening to it for the first time, it’s best to start from the beginning.
To access a BSL version of this playlist, .
Find out more by checking out these 10 stress busters.
Impacts Of Stress On Your Life
Stress can have a big impact on our lives even when we dont realize that its happening. There are many short and long-term impacts of stress. Some of these are fatigue, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension/aches, headaches, sleep problems, loss of sex drive, and memory difficulties. Left untreated chronic stress can lead to serious medical conditions. These diseases are such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and gastrointestinal problems.
Understanding the impacts of stress on your life is important. It is in order to avoid being overwhelmed by it. Once you understand how stress is impacting your life, you can begin to develop strategies for reducing it. Then you can live a more fulfilling life.
Tip : Bring Your Senses To The Rescue
To use your senses to quickly relieve stress, you first need to identify the sensory experiences that work best for you. This can require some experimentation. As you employ different senses, note how quickly your stress levels drop. And be as precise as possible. What is the specific kind of sound or type of movement that affects you the most? For example, if youre a music lover, listen to many different artists and types of music until you find the song that instantly lifts and relaxes you.
Explore a variety of sensory experiences so that no matter where you are, youll always have a tool to relieve stress.
The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. Let your imagination run free and come up with additional things to try. When you find the right sensory technique, youll know it!
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Top Ways To Reduce Stress
Stress. We all experience it, and everyone can benefit from reducing it. Stress can wreak havoc on your health – including your heart health. And reducing stress can go a long way to helping you prevent and maybe even reverse conditions that can lead to heart disease. So, what can you do to reduce your stress and save your heart?
Here are some tips for reducing stress that can have the added benefit of improving your heart health.
Simple Steps To Relieve Stress Instantly
Stress is a common problem that many people face in their everyday lives. While there are many different ways to deal with stress, here are 10 simple steps that can help you relieve stress instantly!
1. Take a deep breath: This is the first and most important step in relieving stress. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a few deep breaths to oxygenate your body and calm down.
2. Exercise: Exercise is a great way to release tension and stress. A moderate workout will help clear your mind and make you feel more relaxed.
3. Take a break: If youre feeling stressed, take a break! Get up and walk around, drink some water, or take a few minutes to yourself to relax.
4. Talk it out: Sometimes talking about our problems can help us feel better and reduce our stress levels.
5. Get enough sleep: Most people need around eight hours of sleep a night. When youre tired, your body is under more stress.
6. Eat healthy: Eating nutritious foods helps your body to cope better with stress. Avoid caffeine and sugary foods, which can make the effects of stress worse.
7. Get organized: Getting organized can help reduce stress by eliminating the feeling of chaos in your life.
8. Set priorities: When you have too many things to do, it can be overwhelming and stressful. Setting priorities can help you focus on what’s important and eliminate some of the stress.
9. Connecting with loved ones can also help reduce stress.
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Stress Drugs For Stress And Anxiety
While there are currently no drugs specifically for stress, there are enough for anxiety that should have roughly the same overall effect. But because of the adverse reactions and the physiological and psychological dependency risks, even these should be used extremely sparingly.
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How Are You Coping With Stress
Your lifestyle choices can prevent your body from recovering from stress. For example, as you sleep, your body recovers from the stresses of the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep or your sleep is often interrupted, you lose the chance to recover from stress.
The way you act and behave can also be a sign of stress. Some people who face a lot of stress react by smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating poorly, or not exercising. The health risks posed by these habits are made even worse by stress.
Your body feels stress-related wear and tear in two ways: the stress itself and the unhealthy ways you respond to it.
- Use this coping strategies evaluation form to help you find out how you cope with stress.
- Try this Interactive Tool: How Well Do You Bounce Back? It measures your ability to deal with life’s challenges.
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What Happens When You Are Stressed
Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.
Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
Get In Some Light Exercise
Dr. Saltz recommends doing any form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, three or four times a week a is great for stress, anxiety, and improving your mood. Some examples of heart rate-boosting activities include a light jog, dance cardio, or sex. She encourages you to find an activity that you find the most fun and stick with it. If possible, squeeze it in before work, during your lunch break, or even make exercise a family activity after work by taking a walk.
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How To Relieve Stress Instantly
Caffeine has been referred to as a psychoactive drug.
The American Psychiatric Association has even named four caffeine-related syndromes: caffeine-intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can give us a jolt and a burst of energy.
When youre prone to getting anxious or stressed out, the last thing you need is adding a stimulant.
Step 1: If youre used to drinking two or more cups of coffee a day, start by reducing to one cup a day.
Step 2: If you drink one coffee a day, try switching to decaf for a few weeks.
Step 3: Once you get used to decaf, try switching to a delicious herbal, caffeine-free tea.
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Quick Ways To Reduce Stress
Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isnt always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
1. BreatheSlow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If youre in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk When youre feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. Youll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun If its a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
12. Be Alone
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How Stress Affects The Body
Common symptoms of stress include:
- A fast heartbeat.
- An upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea.
Over time, stress can affect your:
- Immune system. Constant stress can make you more likely to get sick more often. And if you have a chronic illness such as AIDS, stress can make your symptoms worse.
- Heart. Stress is linked to high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat , blood clots, and hardening of the arteries . It’s also linked to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure.
- Muscles. Constant tension from stress can lead to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Stress may make rheumatoid arthritis worse.
- Stomach. If you have stomach problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or irritable bowel syndrome, stress can make your symptoms worse.
- Reproductive organs. Stress is linked to low fertility, erection problems, problems during pregnancy, and painful menstrual periods.
- Lungs. Stress can make symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse.
- Skin. Skin problems such as acne and psoriasis are made worse by stress.
When To Seek Professional Help For Stress
Around 41.4 million U.S. adults received mental health treatment or counseling in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesSAMHSA releases 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed 5/5/2022. .
If youve tried to reduce stress on your own but are still feeling overwhelmed, you arent alone. Its imperative to seek support from qualified professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and primary care doctors. Untreated stress can become chronic, says Dr. Loper, leading to low-grade inflammation associated with high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and addiction, among other adverse health consequences.
Psychiatrists may prescribe medication to help you cope with acute stress and anxiety, as well as other diagnoses. Meanwhile, psychologists, therapists and counselors can provide relief with various forms of talk therapy. Holistic health practitionerssuch as acupuncturists, Chinese medicine practitioners, naturopathic doctors and massage therapistscan provide relief, too.
Many will suggest that a person seek help once functional impairment begins at work, home school, says Fanike-Kiara Olugbala Young, D.B.H., a licensed clinical social worker and holistic trauma therapist in Roswell, Georgia. However, we know ourselves better than anyone else, so I suggest seeking support when the feelings of not being able to cope first begin.
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Why Is Stress Bad For Us
We need the bodys stress response to get us through tough times. When you sense a threat or danger, your body rises to the challenge by releasing stress hormones, tightening your muscles, making your blood pressure rise and your heart and lungs work harder, and releasing a surge of fat and sugar to give you energy. When danger subsides, your body goes back to normal operations.
If you get stressed out frequently, however, the stress response can become constant and cause ongoing harm, including chronic inflammation the persistent activation of the immune system, which sharply raises the risks for many diseases such as dementia, heart disease, and stroke.
Quick Stress Relief At Work
Meetings. During stressful sessions, stay connected to your breath. Massage the tips of your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Sip coffee.
On the phone. Inhale something energizing, like lemon, ginger, peppermint. While talking, stand up or pace back and forth to burn off excess energy, or take calls outside when possible.
On the computer. Work standing up. Do knee-bends in 10-minute intervals. Suck on a peppermint. Sip tea.
Lunch breaks. Take a walk around the block or in the parking lot. Listen to soothing music while eating. Chat with a colleague.
Your workspace. Place family photos on your desk or mementos that remind you of your life outside the office.
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Learn To Tell People No
Sometimes we try to spread ourselves out too much, saying yes to every request and invitation. Learn to say no and only accept invitations for the events you really want to go to or help out when its necessary.
When you have too much on your plate, you can feel stressed and may start experiencing anxiety and depression when you cant deliver on every commitment.
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths.
Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.
With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.
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Acute Versus Chronic Stress
The experience of stress can be either acute or chronic. Acute stress usually occurs in response to a short-term stressor, like a car accident or an argument with your spouse. Acute stress can be very distressing, but it passes quickly and typically responds well to coping techniques like calming breathing or brisk physical activity.
Chronic stress occurs when stressors dont let up. The roots of chronic stress can vary widely, from situations people can control or avoid to difficulties that are hard to escape . Because people respond differently to stressful circumstances, a situation that one person might find tolerable can become a source of chronic stress for another.
Chronic stress can damage both mental and physical health. Being chronically stressed may leave you feeling fatigued, sap your ability to concentrate and cause headaches and digestive difficulties. People prone to irritable bowel syndrome often find that their symptoms spike with psychological stress.15 Though acute stress can heighten certain immune responses, the wear-and-tear of chronic stress is bad for the immune system.16 Chronic stress can also affect cardiac health, with multiple studies finding a link between chronic stress and the development of coronary artery disease.17
The American Psychological Association gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Beverly Thorn, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.
Tip : Identify The Sources Of Stress In Your Life
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isnt as straightforward as it sounds. While its easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. Its all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels.
Sure, you may know that youre constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe its your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
- Do you explain away stress as temporary even though you cant remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life or as a part of your personality ?
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Start a stress journal
A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal or use a stress tracker on your phone. Keeping a daily log will enable you to see patterns and common themes. Write down:
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Recognize The Signs Of Stress
Stress, like many things, is easier to deal with when we catch it early. So, being aware of how stress shows up in your body and mind means you can use stress-relieving strategies before your stress gets out of control.
Common symptoms of stress include:
- Irritability or anger
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Insomnia or trouble staying asleep
- Excessive worrying
- Muscle tension
- Lack of sex drive
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed
You may also find it helpful to identify situations that you regularly find stressful and behaviors that you engage in when youre stressed .