Stress has become an indispensable part of our daily life, especially to those who live in a fast-paced environment. In certain amount, stress is actually good for us because it can help us to achieve goals and perform at a higher level. However, too much or prolonged stress can be harmful to the body.
Studies have shown that stress can contribute to a number of health conditions, including headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypertension, muscle pain, poor memory, etc.
Fortunately, there are a variety of stress management techniques that can bring relief quickly. These techniques will not only have you feeling more relaxed within minutes, but when practice regularly they can help reduce your stress levels and improve your health.
1. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to relieve stress. This exercise can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus on your breath, making it slower and deeper. Take a 5-minute break and concentrate on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps your heart rate slow down, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, and belly breathing.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years as a relaxation technique. Nowadays, it is widely practiced for its calming and stress relieving effects. Anyone can practice meditation to restore inner peace and take the stress away. Meditation is an inexpensive way to bring your mind and body back to its natural balance.
If you are a beginner, it’s best to take on a guided meditation program under an expert. You can get a hold of good books and videos on meditation for regular practice.
3. Practice yoga regularly
Yoga is another great way to cope with your stressful life and help you find your inner peace back. It combines breathing techniques and stretching exercises to reduce your blood pressure, heartbeat, and nervousness.
You can practice any of the different forms of yoga for stress relief. For instance, you can try Hatha yoga. It soothes your distressed mind, refreshes your thoughts, tones body muscles and generates new awareness like never before. Yoga is also believed to prevent and cure various diseases.
4. Listen to music
Music is a great tool for stress relief. However, the type of music you listen to affects your body in different ways, which can result in different moods.
For example, fast, upbeat music may provide a burst of energy which works best for exercising, while slower music creates feelings of relaxation and calm. Classical music, in particular, can help slow the pulse and heart rate, as well as decrease levels of stress hormones. So, if you’re looking to lower your stress levels, opt for slower instrumental, classical music.
Exercise is also a great way to combat stress. It helps the mind to get away from stressful conditions.
A study has found that people who exercise regularly are 25 percent less likely to experience anxiety or depression than those who don’t exercise .
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean weight lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation.
6. Get enough sleep
Insufficient or lack of sleep makes you more prone to developing stress. In fact, a research found that 21 percent of adults report feeling more stressed when they don’t get enough sleep .
Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep a night and when you get enough sleep, you will be able to concentrate better and be more productive in the day, allowing you to cope with stress more efficiently.
If you have sleep problems, try to establish a sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – even on weekends. Also, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals for several hours before bedtime. Read more about tips to improve your sleep.
7. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a practice that uses naturally extracted essences of aromatic sources, such as plants, trees, flowers and herbs, to enhance mood, promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Scientific studies have linked the scent of lavender to reduced stress and anxiety levels . You can use a lavender scented air freshener in your home, office, or car, or spritz a bit of the essential oil onto your skin before you head out the door in the morning.
Massage isn’t just good for improving the blood circulation in your body, it also help in releasing feel-good hormones in your brain.
Scientific studies show that massage, especially Thai massage, is an effective therapy to reduce stress, anxiety, headaches, and muscle tensions .
Laughing is an excellent way to reduces stress and anxiety, as well as boosts the immunity system. Laughter provides a full-scale workout for your muscles and unleashes a rush of stress-busting endorphins. Since our bodies cannot distinguish between real and fake laughter, anything that makes you giggle will have a positive impact.
If you’re having trouble imagining yourself laughing, or think that nothing can tickle your funny bone, think again. Everyone has a sense of humor, even if they don’t express it frequently.
According to Dr. Linda Mintle, a licensed clinical social worker, the following methods can help people to laugh and release stress.
- Read a funny book
- Tell jokes
- Tickle or be tickled
- Play a fun board game with kids
- Listen to an upbeat talk radio show
- Watch a comedy movie
10. Learn to say “No”
Many people find it difficult to say “No” because they want to help or are trying to be liked. A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. And yet in this situation, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility.
Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your stress levels. So, don’t be afraid to say no when someone is asking for time that you do not have to give.
While saying “no” may seem like a daunting task in the beginning, the long-term effects of practicing saying “no” will almost definitely be worth the initial apprehension.