Learn To Recognize Stressful Thinking
Paying attention to stressful thoughts may help you reduce them.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a strategy that involves becoming more self-aware of stress-provoking thoughts, accepting them without judgment or resistance, and allowing yourself the ability to process them .
Training yourself to be aware of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other signs of tension helps you recognize stress when it begins .
Recognizing stressful thoughts allows you to formulate a conscious and deliberate reaction to them. For example, a study involving 43 women in a mindfulness-based program showed the ability to describe and articulate stress was linked to a lower cortisol response (
Tending to your own happiness can help keep cortisol down. If youre feeling stressed, try listening to music or making yourself laugh.
Immerse Yourself In Sensory Details
As you imagine your scene, try to involve all of your senses. What does it look like? How does it feel? What special scents are involved? Do you hear the roar of a fire, the splash of a waterfall, or the sounds of chipper birds? Make your vision so real you can even taste it!
Healthy Foods That Help Reduce Stress
Melt in your mouth, velvety chocolate is one awesome food for stress relief. But, did you know there are 7 healthy foods scientifically-proven to help reduce stress? Its worth digging into foods that relieve stress stress damages the body. Stress weakens the immune system, and negatively alters the brain: reduces cognition, alters mood, decreases reaction time and weakens memory. With a whopping 55% of American respondents reporting a significant amount of stress within the last day, compared to the global average of 35% , eating foods for stress relief is worth making part of your daily routine.
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Tip : Make Quick Stress Relief A Habit
Its not easy to remember to use your senses in the middle of a minior or not so minocrisis. At first, it will feel easier to just give into pressure and tense up. But with time, calling upon your senses will become second nature. Think of the process like learning to drive or play golf. You dont master the skill in one lesson you have to practice until it becomes second nature. Eventually youll feel like youre forgetting something if you dont tune into your body during challenging times. Heres how to make it habit:
Start small. Instead of testing your quick stress relief tools on a source of major stress, start with a predictable low-level source of stress, like cooking dinner at the end of a long day or sitting down to pay bills.
Identify and target. Think of just one low-level stressor that you know will occur several times a week, such as commuting. Vow to target that stressor with quick stress relief every time. After a few weeks, target a second stressor and so on.
Test-drive sensory input. If you are practicing quick stress relief on your commute to work, bring a scented handkerchief with you one day, try music another day, and try a movement the next day. Keep experimenting until you find a clear winner.
Have fun with the process. If something doesnt work, dont force it. Move on until you find what works best for you. It should be pleasurable and noticeably calming.
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.
Dont worry about seeming crazy just tell yourself why youre stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be okay.
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Tranquility Temperature Balancing Weighted Blanket
“Using a weighted blanket after a particularly long, stressful day makes me feel secure and cozy and calms me down before bed. Throwing on a weighted blanket while relaxing for an hour to recharge is basically a spa-like treatment. Bonus: my sons love it too, and I frequently find them snuggled up with it on the couch or bed.”Latifah Miles, Parenting Commerce Editor
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved doing puzzles and would beg my older siblings to do them with me. They liked it because it usually kept me quiet and sitting still! With more time at home this year, I’ve stepped up my puzzle game with some new purchases and some swaps with friends and family.
I have really enjoyed these Galison puzzles especially the colorful rainbow series and the beautiful NYC cityscapes. Puzzles still help me quiet my mind and stay presenteven if it’s in a challenging moment of finding the perfect piece.”Emily Rose, Senior Editorial Director, Verywell Fit, Family, and Mind
Snag 15 Minutes To Yourself Every Single Day
When youre dealing with coworkers, friends, a partner, and kids all day, every day, it can be helpful for your stress to just take a few minutes to yourself each day. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes of me-time every day, the AHA suggests, and do whatever you want. You can simply sit in your car and breathe deeply or listen to music before you go inside for the night or spend that time on your porch with a cup of coffee in the morninganything that helps you relax.
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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.
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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Your Mind And Body Is At Risk
Your mind and body is at risk when it is often experiencing unnecessary stress responses. Your mental and physical wellbeing is very much affected and in the long run may cause chronic stress. Chronic stress leads to myriad life problems and will definitely weaken the body.
80% to 98% of physical illnesses are stress-related. If the bodys normal function is confused on where to allocate energy, the immune-defense system will definitely get weaker and the body will entertain a lot of diseases.
Moreover, the mind is unable to focus on things that truly matter. It makes it difficult to be happy if you are constantly stressed which affects your relationships, career and overall wellbeing.
What Are The Cons
Like self-hypnosis, it can take some practice to master autonomous guided imagery. Working with a professional therapist to get to that point can be somewhat costly, but worthwhile. Alternatively, there are many downloadable recordings you can use to get started or follow the simple instructions in this article on guided imagery.
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Getting The Most Out Of Yoga
When you’re in a yoga pose, think about how you can unite your body, mind, and breathing. Even a simple pose like mountain pose is a stress reliever when you focus on keeping your breathing slow and even, and visualize yourself as firm and steady as a mountain.
Stay ‘in the moment.’ When we’re under stress, we’re often thinking about what we need to do in the future or what we could have done better in the past . Instead of letting your thoughts wander as you do yoga, think about what your body and breath are doing in this moment. Notice how a particular muscle or area of the body feels. Focus on breathing in slowly as your body stretches tall, and breathing out slowly as you curl up.
Being in the moment like this helps you build your ability to focus and concentrate, which helps in all aspects of life.
Use your breathing when things get difficult. When a yoga pose feels challenging, imagine sending your breath to the area in your body that feels stiff or tight. Does it help? You can use this skill in the rest of your life, too. Whenever something challenges you a tough homework problem, an argument with a parent try to focus on your breathing. You may be surprised by how much better you deal with the situation.
What Happens When Cortisol Is High
Over the last 20 years, studies have increasingly revealed that moderate to high cortisol levels may lead to an array of health issues, such as :
- Chronic disease. Long-term increased cortisol may increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases.
- Weight gain. Cortisol may increase appetite and signal the body to shift metabolism to store fat.
- Lack of energy/difficulty sleeping. It can interfere with sleep hormones which may impact sleep quality and length.
- Difficulty concentrating. Also referred to as brain fog, some people report trouble focusing and lack of mental clarity.
- Impaired immune system. Increased cortisol can hamper the immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections.
- Cushings syndrome. In rare cases, very high cortisol levels can lead to Cushings syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
Elevated cortisol levels can be caused from many underlying issues such as overactivity or cancer of the pituitary or adrenal glands, chronic stress, and medication side effects .
Further, existing chronic disease may lead to higher cortisol levels, causing a chicken or the egg type of scenario .
Therefore, its best to work with a qualified health professional to establish the root cause of your health issues. Along with this, you may want to introduce some effective lifestyle habits that may help you better manage your cortisol levels. Here are some recommendations:
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Our Favorite Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are much more than a faddish trendthey actually work for some people. Laying the heavier-than-most blanket over your body mimics the feeling of receiving a hug or being held and, in turn, may calm the nervous system. These blankets can help you unwind and fall asleep easier and they come in a variety of sizes, weights, and colors to suit your bed or couch. Consider our favorite, the Gravity Blanket, which we love for its high-quality feel and washable cover, or our best value pick from YnM, a great option on a budget.
A Jigsaw Puzzle For A Hands
The best thing about a puzzle is that it makes you feel like youre being productive and making progress on something, while finding joy as you add each individual piece. Plus, you can make it as short- or long-term of a project as you wantas long as you start it on an otherwise seldom-used table or use a portable surface specifically for the hobby. Snag a jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger, which offers an enormous variety of vibrant, scenic puzzles with a wide range of pieces, to work on whenever you want to loosen up.
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Stress Relief Toys For Adults
Stress relief toys and gadgets come in a variety of styles and are designed to calm your mind and nervous system by distracting you from stressful situations.
- Fidget Toys Fidgets are tactile self-regulation toys like slime balls, spinner toys, and squishy cubes and balls. These increase sensory awareness of your fingers, help reduce stress and promote better concentration.
- Stress Balls These are small balls made of gel or soft clay that fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Stress balls encourage good blood circulation, and as you repetitively squeeze them, stress, tension, and other negative emotions decrease or subside. Manipulating stress balls stimulates the brain to release feel-good endorphins, which are natural sedatives and pain relievers. Stress balls also stimulate nerves in your hand which connect to the brains limbic region , promoting feelings of calm and relaxation.
- Dammit Dolls This doll for grownups is designed to vent your frustrations and will withstand endless banging on your desk. Dammit dolls are great for a laugh and lightening things up at work.
- Magnetic Sculpture Desk Toys These tactile sculptures sit on your desk, allowing you to fidget in order to relieve stress and think more creatively.
- Desktop Zen Garden These small replicas of traditional Japanese meditative gardens come with small rakes and brooms to drag through the sand. Making patterns calms your mind, and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too .
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why theyre often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
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Mindfulness And Mantra Meditation
Mindfulness is an ancient form of meditation that promotes awareness of whats happening in the moment.
It encourages you to focus on your body, your thoughts, and whats going on around you.
Mantra meditation, on the other hand, is the opposite of mindfulness. In this practice, you place all your attention on a single target, like a mantra, a candle flame, or a phrase.
In both types of meditations, whenever your mind wanders — and it will Smith says — you simply re-focus.
It’s a brain skill, he says. In that in the first 2 weeks you won’t be able to do it very well. Your mind will constantly chatter and distract, and that’s normal, that happens.
But as you practice, youll get better at it.
Yoga And Stress Relief
Yoga has been shown to reduce stress or symptoms of stress in a range of studies .
Originating in India, yoga is an age-old practice that can increase flexibility, strength, and wellbeing. Breathing techniques are typically a core element of yogic practice.
How exactly yoga contributes to stress relief is not entirely clear, but its believed to exert positive effects through both psychological and biological pathways .
Yoga may help take the sting out of stress by :
- Encouraging mindfulness
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Tackling Low Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is an important chemical messenger in our bodies that transmits signals between our nerve cells.
It is found in the digestive system, but also exists in our central nervous system and can affect several parts of our wellbeing, including our mental health.
It is also known as a natural mood stabiliser, so when our levels are low, we may feel more anxious, on-edge, stressed, fatigued, or depressed. A stress-relief supplement may contain more tryptophan, for example, than natural food sources, which can jumpstart your serotonin levels.
Research suggests supplementing with tryptophan may be as effective as taking an antidepressantfor those who suffer from moderate depression symptoms because of its ability to raise serotonin levels.
Quick Stress Relief At Home
Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident.
Kitchen. Ease kitchen stress by breathing in the scent of every ingredient. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.
Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands and breathe in the scent.
Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.
Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light.
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Look At Fractal Shapes In Nature Or Art
Nature has long been associated with relaxation, but research over the past few decades has shown that art and computer images that mimic certain natural patterns can have a similar effect. Fractals, shapes that repeat on finer and finer scales, are often found in nature. They seem particularly pleasing to the human eye, and looking at them has been found to reduce physical signs of acute stress.
Branka Spehar, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, and her collaborators found that Jackson Pollocks iconic paintings are also fractals. This helps explain the immense popularity of these and similar art and architecture over the years. Humans prefer lines that are neither straight nor smooth, with moderate level of complexity, she said.
Our affinity for fractals probably came through evolution, because there are no perfect shapes or straight lines in the natural world. Everything you see in nature has some imperfection, Spehar said. And a dose of imperfection is calming, like in Japanese wabi-sabi, the aesthetic and worldview that emphasizes the acceptance of imperfection and impermanence.
Whenever possible, spend time in nature to reduce stress. Short of that, mimic natural effects by looking at perfectly imperfect fractals. As singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen put it: There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in.