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9 Ways to Relieve Stress
Something we take for granted in our busy lives is the presence of stress. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have ways to deal with that stress. We want you to have less stressful days, weeks, and lives, so we’ve collected nine simple ways to relieve stress on a daily basis.
While going to the gym is the most obvious way to get exercise, it isn’t the only way. Whether you get up from your work for a few minutes periodically throughout the day to stretch and do some light exercise, or you regularly engage in repetitive movements of large muscle groups like yoga, walking, or dance, you’re lowering stress hormones, like cortisol, and releasing endorphins, which improve your mood.
Exercise also leads to more confidence in your body, which leads to better mental well-being.
There are two types of writing that can be particularly helpful with stress management:
- Gratitude journaling – focusing on the positive also can help you realize how many resources you have to help you deal with challenges
- To-do list making – by writing down things you need to do you get them out of your head and onto the page so your mind doesn’t have to keep dwelling on trying to remember everything you need to do
Certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones. Seriously! Aromatherapy has also been seen to decrease anxiety and improve sleep. You can use essential oils or light a candle. If you don’t know where to start with scents, some of the best-known ones include lavender, vetiver, bergamot, sandalwood, and orange blossom.
Time with Loved Ones
Did you know that spending time with friends and children can lead to the release of oxytocin? Oxytocin in a natural stress reliever and blood pressure reducer. Spending time with people you care about stimulates the opposite of the “fight or flight” response, which is “tend and befriend.”
Say “No” More
There are so many forces at work trying to claim your attention and there’s only so much of you to go around! The reality is not that we need to say “yes” more often, but that we don’t say “no” enough. Saying “no” needs to be done with intention: I am saying “no” in one area so that I can say “yes” more often somewhere else. It feels good to quit things that aren’t working for you anymore.
Meditation is getting more and more attention these days, and with good reason. It’s a great way to escape anxiety and negative thoughts. One particular form of meditation that can help relieve stress is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness focuses on being completely present. When you do that, you can’t worry about the mistakes of the past or the challenges of the future. It doesn’t mean that those things go away, but it does allow you to take back some moments for yourself which can strengthen you for whatever is next.
While we all have our favorite tunes, not every type of music is going to induce a relaxation response, which is what we are going for. Slow-paced instrumental music can help to lower blood pressure and your heart rate. Sounds from nature are also very soothing and are becoming more and more easily available via apps and other programs.
Deep breathing exercises can help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which can help you relax. Deep breathing also helps oxygenate your blood, lower your heart rate, and clear your mind.
A basic deep breathing exercise consists of breathing in deeply through your nose, and exhale gently through your mouth. As you breathe in deeply focus on the action of your lungs filling with air.
Sleep: it’s not just good for your life, it helps defeat stress. Remember that sleep doesn’t just happen (okay, well sometimes when we’re really tired, it does), so you should have “shut-down procedures” in place to help you get ready to sleep, like dimming lights and avoiding screens. Sleep doesn’t just help you reduce your stress, it also gives your body a chance to repair itself.
There’s no reason to let stress get the better of you with so many ways that you can combat it on a daily basis. You don’t have to use all nine every day, but even if you’re using one or two, you’ll be winning!