Every now and then, stress is unavoidable. Whether it’s at work, at home or even while you’re on vacation, there are times when you simply can’t deal with everything that’s going on. But as you know, stress is incredibly unhealthy, and can lead to a variety of illnesses and conditions that will only make life worse. To reduce your stress levels and get back to living comfortably in the moment, try one of these stress-relief methods next time you think you’re about to lose it.
1. Work up a sweat
It doesn’t sound like exercise would be a good stress-reducer, especially for people who are less than thrilled with the time they spend at the gym, but you’d be surprised. As little as 10 minutes of exercise can give you a mental boost by flooding your brain with feel-good endorphins and stress-relieving chemicals. Next time you feel like you could use a break, take one and get moving. Go for a short walk, a quick jaunt up a flight of stairs or move up the time of your regularly scheduled gym session.
2. Breathe deeper
Taking some time to focus on your breath and draw air deeper into your lungs can have incredibly calming effects. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know that each cycle of inhalation and exhalation can help you relieve anxiety and focus on the present moment. Imagine sucking in positive energy with every breath and pushing it into your belly as you inhale. When you exhale, picture all of your worries and all of the tension in your body being released. Repeat this cycle for a few minutes and you’ll notice you’re already feeling better.
3. Get outside
It’s hard to feel anxious and stressed when you’re surrounded by Mother Nature. If it’s a nice day, head out into your yard and soak up a few rays, taking in everything around you. Focus on all the life growing around you and relish how everything feels, from the smell of the air to the touch of the grass. Even if you can’t physically go outside, just looking out the window at a natural setting can be enough. Take a break from what you’re doing and check out what’s going on outdoors. You could also take a few moments to appreciate a plant or a bouquet of flowers on your desk.
If you feel stressed but you’re not sure why, you’ll need to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s causing you all this worry. Casually go through everything you’ve experienced lately, whether it’s a conversation with your mom, an email from your boss or a lot of traffic on your way to work. Ask yourself if anything was particularly upsetting, and you’ll probably be able to figure out what that stress is all about. From there, you can take steps to solve the problem. Forget about today’s traffic and avoid it tomorrow by taking a back route, for example.
5. Have a snack
Eating when you’re stressed isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be beneficial, especially if you take the time to savor what’s in your mouth and appreciate the nourishment you’re getting. Choose a healthy snack that you like and take a short break, giving yourself enough time to slowly chew the food and consider its taste and texture. Focus on how the food is making you feel. Chances are, you’ll be feeling a lot better.
6. Take a nap
If you can, consider getting a little rest whenever you’re feeling stressed. Restful sleep can help you tackle stress-inducing situations more easily. You might also find that you don’t feel stressed at all when you wake up, and whatever it was that was bothering you becomes a thing of the past.
7. Hug and kiss a loved one
Studies have shown that hugs and kisses can produce mood-boosting endorphins in the brain, so don’t hesitate to reach for your loved ones when you’re feeling like life has gotten out of control. Even just cuddling with your significant other or child while you watch TV can have relaxing benefits.
8. Listen to music
Classical music has proven stress-relief benefits, but even heavy metal can help relieve anxiety if that’s what you like. Listening to soothing tunes or music that you love can decrease levels of stress hormones in your body and lower your heart rate. Humming to yourself can have the same benefits if you’re unable to listen to music at work.
Sometimes all it takes to chill out is talking to someone who will listen. Call up a close friend or relative and talk about what’s been bothering you lately. Saying what you think and putting your emotions into words can have a beneficial effect. If you’re not looking for advice or a solution to your problem, let the person know that you’re just trying to let it all out.
Smiling and laughing are two proven ways to relieve stress, and you don’t have to sit awkwardly by yourself when you do it. Hang out with a funny group of friends, watch a comedy or search for funny videos on YouTube. Getting a few giggles in can reduce your tension.
How do you unwind when you’re feeling stressed?