- Stress Management Tips
- 6 Self-Care Secrets to Reduce Stress
- 6 Tips to Mitigate Stress with Self-care
- Enjoy an Enhanced, Low-Stress Life
- 10 Quick Ways to De-Stress
- 25 Simple and Proven Ways to De-Stress
- 1. Identity your stress triggers.
- 2. Take a 10 minute walk.
- 3. Laugh
- 4. Breathe.
- 5. Get up earlier.
- 6. Eat well.
- 7. Visualize
- 8. Meditate
- 9. Dry skin brushing.
- 10. Chew some gum.
- 11. WOOP, there it is!
- 12. Get enough, quality sleep.
- 13. Buy a plant.
- 14. Count.
- 15. Hug someone.
- 16. Get out of town.
- 17. Unplug
- 18. Naam yoga hand trick.
- 19. Visit your BFF.
- 20. Practice gratitude.
- 21. Discard and organize.
- 22. Get crafty.
- 23. Scream, sigh or sing.
- 24. Sit in a rocking chair.
- 25. Create calendar cushions.
- Video Transcript
- 40 Simple And Brilliant Ways To Relax and De-stress
- 1. Get Moving
- 2. Drink Tea
- 3. Visualize
- 4. Return to Nature
- 5. Write in a Journal
- 6. Be Bored
- 7. Engage in Your Interests
- 8. Take a Nap
- 9. Unplug From Social Media
- 10. Meditate
- 11. Do Yoga
- 12. Clean
- 13. Take a Walk
- 14. Read
- 15. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
- 16. Talk to Yourself
- 17. Cuddle with a Pet
- 18. Listen to Music
- 19. Be with a Friend
- 20. Learn Something New
- 21. Say No
- 22. Stretch
- 23. Take a Bubble Bath
- 24. Squeeze a Stress Ball
- 25. Look Out The Window
- 26. Tickle Yourself
- 27. Watch a Movie
- 28. Eat Chocolate
- 29. Smile
- 30. Go Barefoot
- 31. Sing
- 32. Treat Yourself
- 33. Scents Make Sense
- 34. Do Your Research
- 35. Chew Gum
- 36. Find a Relaxation Mentor
- 37. Be Spontaneous
- 38.Forgive Yourself
- 39. Breathe
- 40. Remember You’re Human
- 1. Count your breaths
- 2. Give a hug
- 3. Create a constant reminder to chill
- 4. Unleash the power of lavender
- 5. Snack smart
- 6. Talk to yourself
- 7. Turn on some tunes
- 8. Watch a satisfying video
- 9. Practice gratitude
- 10. Light a candle
- 11. Chew gum
- 12. Try the Naam Yoga Hand Trick
- 13. Focus on the upside of stress
- 30 Science-Backed Ways to Relax When You’re Totally Stressed Out
- 1 Smile—even if it’s forced.
- 2 Sit up straight.
- 3 Sniff some flowers.
- 4 Or sniff a sweet-smelling essential oil.
- 5 Watch a funny movie.
- 6 Doodle.
- 7 Take a quick bath.
- 8 Chew some gum.
- 9 Do something kind for someone else.
- 10 Hit the gym.
- 11 Listen to some soothing music.
- 12 Play with your pet.
- 13 Take a boxing class.
- 14 Try yoga.
- 15 Don’t forget to stretch!
- 16 Spend some time away from your phone.
- 17 Meditate.
- 18 Get it on.
- 19 Kiss your partner.
- 20 Write down the things you’re grateful for.
- 21 Squeeze a stress ball.
- 22 Take a deep breath.
- 23 Phone a friend.
- 24 Get some sun.
- 25 Spend some time in nature.
- 26 Shout your favorite curse word.
- 27 Eat your greens.
- 28 Drink tea instead of coffee.
- 29 Bust a move.
- 30 Look at a happy photo.
- 10 Tips to Help You De-Stress
- Stress Relief: 10 Tips to Help You De-Stress
- Stress Relief: Unwise Choices
- Stress Relief: When Tension Signals a Deeper Problem
Stress Management Tips
People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay.
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi for stress management.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Learn to manage your time more effectively.
- Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
- Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to reduce stress.
- Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you enjoy.
- Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.
6 Self-Care Secrets to Reduce Stress
To be stressed is to be alive. And however uncomfortable it makes you, it is a universal feeling that is a part of the imperfect human experience. Stress saps your energy, causes fatigue, and increases negative thoughts that can contribute to anxious feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to build up a healthy response to stress that can even reverse the uncomfortable feelings over time.
The most basic and important way to mitigate stress is by taking care of yourself. It may sound simple, but your mind and body are connected in powerful ways and by maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, you can actually prevent and manage stress.
6 Tips to Mitigate Stress with Self-care
To live a happier life, and lower your risk of developing health issues, here are some tips for nurturing your physical and mental health before stress runs you ragged.
1. Consider doing less
Sometimes your body needs down time to relax and replenish your energy stores. Rather than taking on more responsibilities or saying “yes” to that invitation to hang out with friends, take a pause and ask yourself: Are the benefits of accepting this invitation worth the potential stress?
Sometimes the answer will be no, a cue to have a more relaxing night in.
2. Make time for reflection
Whether you write down stressful thoughts to get them out of your head, or keep a regular diary that focuses on gratitude and positivity, taking time to reflect on your feelings and write them down can have a calming effect. Taking a few minutes each day for this exercise can even help prevent future feelings of stress.
3. Take a vacation
No time ever seems perfect to pack your bags and book a trip, and yet it is incredibly important to slow down and take time for yourself away from your typical settings.
If paid time off isn’t possible in your line of work, try milking those long holiday weekends by going someplace new locally. This will help you come back replenished, restored and ready for those busy moments.
4. Commit to regular exercise
Making time for regular sweat sessions helps your body reduce the mental and physical impact of stress.
If frustration is building, take a high-energy exercise class to help you sweat out pent up emotions, which can have a calming effect. Yoga is also another common way to cope with stress through physical movement and stretching.
5. Soak up the sun
Nature has healing properties and getting outside can help ease a bad mood or calm anxious feelings. Whether you take a long walk in the trees, a leisurely beach stroll, or spend time on a scenic park bench, spending time in the sun can help foster a feeling of peace.
6. Practice meditation
To help stimulate your relaxation response, try intentional breathing and a basic meditation practice. There are mobile apps and breathing exercises that can help you strategically calm your body and mind, helping reduce mental stress.
Enjoy an Enhanced, Low-Stress Life
Practicing self-care is an important way to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. In doing so, you will experience an enhanced immune system, higher energy levels, and an improved well-being.
Activating a relaxation response can reduce, and even reverse, the physical, mental and emotional effects of stress – and it only takes a few short minutes each day to garner the positive benefits.
10 Quick Ways to De-Stress
Most women know stress all too well…the adrenaline rushes through your body as you try and deal with a whiny two-year-old, a tormenting teenager, the ticking watch on your wrist as you sit in traffic on the way to the doctor, or the deadline at work that seems impossible to make.
When stress strikes, try one of these techniques for a quick cool-down:
Change the environment
Do something pleasurable or relaxing for a little while such as reading, watching TV, or taking a shower. If you are at work, step outside for a few minutes and get some fresh air.
Practice breathing exercises
Focus on your breath, pushing all other thoughts aside. Be conscious of the breath coming in and going out; focus on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling.
This does not mean sitting crossed leg on the floor and burning incense. Meditation is really about quieting the mind. Not reacting; just noticing. Even a minute can make a difference. Be in the moment noticing everything around you and just observe without reacting.
Often, one’s faith can be a comfort. Saying a small prayer or series of prayers can be calming.
Do relaxation exercises
Sometimes known as progressive muscle relaxation, practice tensing and then releasing each of your muscle groups. If your body is physiologically relaxed, then you can’t be stressed.
Go walking or running
Exercise can be a great stress reliever. It helps you blow off steam and releases endorphins. Take a walk or go running. This will provide some perspective so you can return in a new frame of mind.
Practice a rhythmic activity
Walking or running are great rhythmic activities that readjust your focus and relieve stress. You can also drum on a table with your hands or a few pencils.
Immerse yourself in a creative outlet
Doing something creative that you enjoy like cooking, baking, art or photography can take you away from the stress at hand. For example, cooking or baking requires focus, concentration and physical activity—especially if you are making bread or rolling out dough.
Express your feelings
Write your stress away in a journal, take out your colored pencils and paper and focus your concentration on drawing, or have coffee with a trusted friend and just talk.
Be in the moment with one of your senses
Sight, smell, sound, and taste—you’ll be amazed how quickly the stress melts away when you focus on just one of them. Eat something that you crave and savor each bite. Light a scented candle and breathe in your favorite scent. Listen to a wonderful piece of music and let it take you away. Look at something beautiful in your surrounding that makes you stop and stare.
If one method doesn’t work for you, try another. Learning to cool down takes practice. Be patient with yourself and you will reap the benefits.
Getting help from a professional is always a good idea, especially if you feel that nothing seems to help. Talking to your primary care doctor is a great place to start.
For an appointment, call 1-888-847-8823.
Updated December 20, 2018
25 Simple and Proven Ways to De-Stress
June 27, 2017 15 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We all experience stress at some point in our lives. Whether it is preparing for an exam, going on a first date, getting stuck in traffic, worrying about bills, or making a sales presentation, stress is just a normal part of life.
Granted, stress is worse for some people. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, stress is a perfectly normal reaction that “developed in our ancient ancestors as a way to protect them from predators and other threats.”
We still face dangerous predators and threats — work for instance.
Whenever facing a dangerous situation, “the body kicks into gear, flooding the body with hormones that elevate your heart rate, increase your blood pressure, boost your energy and prepare you to deal with the problem.”
Although it’s a natural reaction, stress is still a negative force that can have a serious impact on both our professional and personal lives.
For starters, stress can lead to fatigue, headaches, stomach aches, muscle tension, heart attacks and even death. (I’m stressed but I’m not dead — but I’m still writing.) Stress can also cause you to pick fights with the people you’re closest to. In short, stress can put a monkey-wrench in your career, relationships and even your life.
The good news is that you can take action concerning stress. You can learn to move through it rather than allowing it to stop you. Try out a few of this list of 25 simple and proven ways to de-stress yourself. Take a breath, breathe out slowly. Now, let’s see what works for you.
Related: 10 Effective Ways to Beat Stress
1. Identity your stress triggers.
First things first, what exactly stresses you out? Do you know exactly what triggers this reaction? How do you react to it,? When you have a few answers, look for possible solutions.
While you’re not going to be able to eliminate every stress trigger in your life, you can at least remove the ones that you have influence over.
For example, if your morning commute is your main cause of stress because of traffic, then ask for a flexible schedule where you only have to commute three days week and work two days from home. Another option for a flex schedule would be coming in earlier or arriving later so that you can avoid most of the hectic traffic.
Related: How Working At Home Can Be Harmful to Your Health
2. Take a 10 minute walk.
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there. But, not everyone will take the time or have the motivation to commit to a strict workout regiment.
Could you squeeze in a 10 minute walk either first thing in the morning, during a lunch break, or when we get home from work? A short walk clears our heads and boost endorphins, which in turn reduces stress hormones.
If possible, go for a walk in park or anywhere where there’s a lot of green. This can actually put you in a state of meditation.
Related: Stressed and Exhausted? More Than Half of Founders Say They Never ‘Switch Off.’
Research has found that laughing can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol, said Suzanne Steinbaum. She is a D.O., who is an attending cardiologist and director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“Once you start laughing, it forces you to feel better,” said Dr. Steinbaum.
Since we all have different senses of humor, think about something that puts a smile on your face. Is it an old SNL sketch, viral video of a dog chasing it’s tail, or reminiscing about that time your best friends fell down the stairs? Whatever it is, keep it on hand so it’s easily accessible when you need a good laugh.
Related: Humor Them. A Well-Timed Laugh Speaks Volumes.
Slow, deep breathing, even if it’s for only for a couple of minutes can dramatically decrease tension. Clinical and sports psychologist Leah Lagos, PsyD., suggests to Rodale’s Organic Life that you try one the following breathing exercises during your lunch:
- Power 10 – Take 10 breaths. Focus on feelings of anxiety and stress while inhaling and releasing and letting go while exhaling for 6 seconds.
- Heart boost – Think about two of the best moments of your life and then positive feelings you experienced during these specific moments as you inhale. Release any negative feelings as you exhale. When you pair a positive emotion with an inhalation, your heart will shift rhythms in order to improve your mental state.
- Heart shifting – Here you’ll take three sets of five breaths with a 4-second inhale and a 6-second exhale. During the first five breaths, focus on negative emotions and then let them go with each exhale. For the second set of breaths, clear your mind of any other thoughts and just focus on the feeling of inhaling and exhaling. Finally, focus on embracing “the love in your heart during the inhale, whether that be for a family member or friend. Let go of the negative emotion while exhaling.”
Related: 4 TED Talks to Help You Deal With Stress and Anxiety
5. Get up earlier.
This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re more of a morning person then start waking-up even earlier. You’d be surprised at much more you’ll accomplished before everyone else is awake. You might enjoy reading, getting in a workout, responding to emails or getting right to work.
Completing these tasks first thing in the morning allows you to focus on your to-do-list sooner – which means you get done earlier and can do something that you really enjoy.
Not convinced? According to a study conducted by biologist Christoph Randler, of 367 college students he found that early risers perform better on the job. The early risers attained greater career success and made more money than those who started their day later.
Related: The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Get up Early
6. Eat well.
Our moods and our foods are closely linked. That’s why when you feel down in the dumps or stressed out you automatically reach for your comfort food. Nonetheless, cookie dough for breakfast is never the best option health wise.
Sure. Mac and cheese is delicious and may temporarily make you feel better but eating it daily won’t. Have some mixed vegetables on your Ramen noodles. You can start small.
Healthy eating improves your energy, makes you more productive, and improves your physical and mental health. It can also saves you money. Avoid the junk food and stick with fruits, veggies and foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed.
Related: 12 Ways to Eat Healthy No Matter How Busy You Are
A short visualization can be the quickest path to getting centered. Just get comfortable somewhere quiet and imagine the person, place or thing that makes you happy. If accomplishing a goal charges you up, imagine someone thanking you for what you’ve completed.
Or is sitting on the beach where you need to go in your imagination? I lean back — yes in my chair — and think about one of those really cold bottles of Coke. Not the canned Coke, for heaven’s sake — the bottles.
Maybe I even walk from work down to the store on the corner and get one. (Yeah, make sure the guy at the counter opens it for you. No one ever has an opener back at the office.) Can you picture your favorite cold beverage in your hand?
Related: The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success
Time and time again this practice of inward-focused thought, along with deep breathing, has been proved to reduce heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure.
Meditations relatives such as yoga and prayer, are also effective in relaxing the mind and body. Don’t think you have time? Check out 5 Minute Meditation. As it’s name implies, it’s designed to help you reduce stress by meditating for just just minutes.
Related: Why Meditation Works and How it Benefits the Workplace
9. Dry skin brushing.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, dry skin brushing is often used to brush “off dead skin cells” and also activate “waste removal via your lymph nodes.”
Okay, I’d have to hide in the closet to do this one. It seems a little weird to me, but Dr. Mercola adds, that, “The act of dry brushing has been described as meditative (especially if you do it in a quiet space) and may reduce muscle tension, calm your mind, and relieve stress. Many compare it to a light whole-body massage.”
Who has that dry of skin? Yeah, I’ll go get the massage.
Related: Why Self-Care Sometimes Needs to Be Your No. 1 Strategy
10. Chew some gum.
There was a 2008 study from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, that discovered that chewing gum can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in saliva by 16 percent during mild stress and about 12 percent during moderate stress.
No wonder some people look so awful chewing gum. They’re working out all that stress. I’d forget to spit it out before the next meeting and really give off a great impression. Chomp, chomp, click, click, bubble.
Related: Chewing: The Energy Source of the Future
11. WOOP, there it is!
We hear a lot of about how positive thinking can help reduce stress. But, psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science Of Motivation, argues that positive thinking isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. (Yay!)
She believes that fantasizing only helps temporarily and is actually counterproductive in helping us make our wishes come true. Instead, Oettingen suggests that we use a mental contrasting tool she calls WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan). This involves closing your eyes, imagining your wish coming true for a few minutes, and then thinking about the main obstacle that’s in your way.
After that, envision the action that you would take to remove the obstacle.
Related: Positive Thinking Could Get in the Way of Your Goals
12. Get enough, quality sleep.
Are you getting enough sleep at night? You should. Sleep is an essential component in staying healthy and strong and it can help you better handle stressful situations.
Remember, just cause you’re in bed for eight hours doesn’t mean that you’re getting quality sleep. Make sure that you get restful and restorative sleep each and every night by having a cool, dark, and quiet environment.
Related: Sleep In and Make Millions: Why You Don’t Need to Wake Up at 5 A.M.
13. Buy a plant.
Plants are more than just beautiful air purifiers. They can also reduce stress and anxiety – particularly chamomile, jasmine, lavender, marjoram, and skullcap.
Related: Why Plants Are Less Stressed Than You
Since counting numbers gives your mind something neutral to focus on, instead of whatever’s stressing you out, it can divert your thoughts and place you on a more serene track.
Related: Calm Down and Take These 7 Daily Steps to Deal With Stress
15. Hug someone.
Led by Sheldon Cohen, researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that hugs can protect people from stress and infection. Cohen says that, “being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress.”
Related: How to Hack Your Brain Chemicals to Be More Productive
16. Get out of town.
Taking an annual vacation is good for you since it removes you from stressful situations. But, not everyone has the time or money to go overseas or disappear for a month.
Even a weekend getaway like camping or visiting a friend or family member and a “staycation” can be effective when you need to get unwind.
Related: Why ‘Vacation-Shaming’ Hurts You More Than Your Employees
British researchers connected the dots between rising stress levels and constantly checking a smartphone.
Sometimes you need to turn off all of your devices in and even leave them behind. Try it. You’ll be surprised at how peaceful you feel when you’re not checking your phone every five minutes.
Related: Why You Really Need to Unplug While on Vacation (Infographic)
18. Naam yoga hand trick.
Sharon Melnick, author of Success Under Stress, says that simply applying pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers) can create a sense of instant calm.
According to Melnick, “it activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you’re nervous will end up going away.”
Related: 9 Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk Without Looking Really Weird (Infographic)
19. Visit your BFF.
Studies have found that during stressful times visiting your best friend can decrease the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
What if your bestie isn’t around? At least you can hang out with man’s best friend. A study from the Virginia Commonwealth University discovered that employees who brought their dogs to work experienced lower stress levels throughout the work day.
Related: It Really Does Pay to Be Nice — Growing Research Links Friendship and Success
20. Practice gratitude.
When it comes to increasing your happiness, improving your health and coping with stress there isn’t as powerful as gratitude.
There have been numerous scientific studies, including research conducted by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. They found that those who consciously focus on gratitude experience both a greater emotional well being and physical health than those who don’t.
Related: The Four A’s of Expressing Gratitude
21. Discard and organize.
Clutter and disorganization cause chaos and stress. Don’t believe me? How stressed out were you the last time you couldn’t find your car keys or an important document?
Get rid of the junk you no longer need and start organizing the stuff you have so that you know exactly where everything is when you need it.
Related: Your Office Isn’t Big Enough for Clutter and Productivity
22. Get crafty.
Avid knitter and pediatrician, Perri Klass, M.D. found that repetitive motions from crafts like knitting can soothe anxiety. If knitting isn’t your cup of tea, pick-up hobbies like cross-stitching or making jewelry.
Related: 10 Tips to Help You Remain Sane While Running Your Business
23. Scream, sigh or sing.
Stress is a result of us not letting it out. One of the easiest ways to release this stress is just by letting out a good old-fashioned primal scream.
Can’t do that in public? Even a sigh can work since it releases tension in your upper body. And, you can also sing your favorite song since that releases endorphins and oxytocin.
Related: 16 Blood-Pumping Songs to Boost Your Motivation and Confidence
24. Sit in a rocking chair.
Research from the University of Rochester found that the mild exercise of rocking in a rocking chair can release endorphins, improve mood, and even reduce pain.
Related: Excessive Sitting Could Shorten Your Life. Engineer Activity Into Your Routine Today.
25. Create calendar cushions.
One of the biggest stress factors is having a overbooked calendar. In the future, start creating cushions in your schedule so that you aren’t rapidly bouncing from Point A to Point B.
For example, if you have a 10 am meeting with your team, then don’t plan a lunch meeting with a client at noon. The reason doesn’t matter. Maybe you won’t have enough time to prepare and meet the client. Your you have to drive like a maniac to get there. Instead, plan a meeting for later in the day or another day altogether.
Have we left anything out? If so, let us know how you destress?
Relaxing is all about getting your mind off of the stresses of life. Anything that will accomplish this can be helpful in making you feel calm and at peace. Here are some easy ways to feel more relaxed in your daily life.
Meditation can be a great way to relax, especially if you are under a lot of stress. Research has shown that meditation can be helpful in lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and even improving cognitive performance.
And meditation is pretty simple to do: just find a comfortable place, close your eyes, relax your muscles, and focus on one thing, whether it’s your breathing, an object (a flower, or a painting)—or even a picture in your mind—perhaps you are sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. You can do this for as little as 10 minutes to experience benefits. The key is staying focused and not letting any distractions or thoughts enter your mind—being mindful is key. If you have a bit more time, take a Yoga or Tai Chi class—both incorporate mediation, along with physical movements.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is very soothing—it contains theanine, an amino acid that gives flavor to green tea and also promotes relaxation. It is also thought that theanine is a caffeine antagonist, meaning it counters the stimulating effects of caffeine. So, drink green tea, and avoid caffeinated beverages, since caffeine can worsen the stress response.
Eat Mood-Boosting Foods
Many of us crave indulgent carbohydrates like cookies, candy, ice cream, pretzels, and other sweet and starchy foods when we’re stressed, anxious, or tense. These foods can have a soothing effect in some women, and it may have something to do with low serotonin levels during these mood states. Serotonin is a brain chemical responsible for feelings of calmness and relaxation. It’s thought that consuming these carbohydrates helps boost serotonin levels, which results in feelings of contentedness and relaxation. So, enjoy these treats if they provide some instant satisfaction, but do watch your portion sizes! I recommend 100 calorie portions—4 Hershey Kisses, or a small handful of pretzels. You may want to pre-portion out pretzels, for example, and take them with you as a snack when you leave the house. The 100-calorie packs work well too.
Create a Relaxation Room
Many spas have relaxation rooms to sit in before and after treatments, and it’s a great thing to create at home too. A relaxation room doesn’t have to be a “room” per se—it can be a space in your bedroom, for example, but the key is having an area or room at home, solely devoted to relaxing. You can have a really comfortable chair or daybed, with dim lights, or candles nearby— whatever it is that you enjoy and find relaxing. This will give you an opportunity to decompress, with very little stimulus—this is key. Forget the blackberry, cell phone and laptop—this is a time to kick back and relax. You might want to read a book or magazine, but the idea is to clear your mind of distractions and stressors.
Listen to Music
Listening to soothing music can be very relaxing—and slow tempos in particular can induce a calm state of mind. (It can also slow down breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relax tense muscles too). This can be particularly beneficial when you’re getting ready for a tough day at work, or if you’re in your car stuck in traffic, or, if you’re lying in bed trying to free your mind of stressful thoughts. Interestingly, music therapy has been shown to be helpful in decreasing anxiety associated with medical procedures: one recent study found that heart rate and blood pressure decreased significantly among individuals who listened to music during a colonoscopy (the control group did not experience any changes). The music intervention group also required less sedation during the procedure.
Get a Massage
Getting a massage is a great way to free yourself of tension and relax, and adding aromatherapy oils such as chamomile or lavender can be particularly beneficial: one recent study found that emergency room nurses experienced reduced stress levels with aromatherapy massage: The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, found that 54 percent of the emergency room staff in summer and 65 percent in winter suffered moderate to extreme anxiety. However, this fell to 8 percent, regardless of the season, once staff received 15-minute aromatherapy massages while listening to music. If you don’t have a lot of spare time, you can get aromatherapy oils and massage tools to use at home.
Have a Hot Bath
Heat relaxes muscles—and taking a long bath can be soothing for the mind as well. Stock up on your favorite bath salts and soaps, get a bath pillow, and decorate the room with candles. You can even create an in-home spa, by incorporating spa treatments like facials.
Exercise helps to boost endorphins and reduce stress—and research shows that 20 minutes each day is all that is needed to experience benefits.
Relax. You deserve it, it’s good for you, and it takes less time than you think.
SPEAKER: You know those people who always seem to be smiling? What’s their secret? Turns out a lot of the smiles come from saying sayonara stress. Want in on that action? Well, here are three ways to stress less so you can smile more. First up, play your stress away/ why should kids have all the fun? Your boss might not let everyone out for recess, but you can find 15 minutes every day to do something you really enjoy. Go to a driving range. Play ping pong, cards, or board games. Just keep it friendly. Remember, winning isn’t everything. Number 2. Give it up for pet power. Have you ever seen anyone looking stressed when playing with an adorable puppy? Neither have we. Interacting with animals has been proven to lower stress in almost everyone. Simply petting a dog or a cat lowers your blood pressure considerably and reduces levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. So pet your pooch. Don’t have a pet? Borrow a friend’s, or visit a local shelter for some much-needed cuddle time. And the number-one way to stress less? Laugh it off. How does laughter love thee? Let us count the ways. Laughter fills your body and lungs with oxygen. It makes your brain release Mr. And Mrs. Happy Hormones, the endorphins. It bolsters your immune system and helps you, well, be well. It also helps your brain release natural pain relievers, and may even stop painful muscle spasms. It’s true. He who laughs best stresses less. So learn to play, adopt a stray, and laugh away. You’ll feel great. And it will show.
You don’t need a spa weekend or a retreat. Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 15 minutes.
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
It’s simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply
Take a 5-minute break and focus 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.
“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, says. She’s a certified life coach in Rome, GA.
3. Be Present
“Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness,” Tutin says. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
4. Reach Out
Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others — preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what’s going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.
5. Tune In to Your Body
Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.
40 Simple And Brilliant Ways To Relax and De-stress
Today’s fast-paced society has our lives in its crushing grasp, and stress is an unwanted by-product. Well folks, that’s all about to change. Below are 40 easy– and some slightly unconventional– ways to relax. After all, you deserve it.
1. Get Moving
I know, I know– you just want a break, and perhaps tiring yourself out even more is the last thing on your mind. But trust me, this is gold. Exercise triggers the brain to release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which will– erhm– make you feel good. Yeah, it really is that simple.
2. Drink Tea
…Green Tea, especially. They are a rich source of L-Theanine, a chemical that is proven to reduce stress and anger.
This is a nice technique that tricks the brain and subsequently calms you down. Imagine yourself at your favorite spot– on the beach? The more imagery, the better.
4. Return to Nature
Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Deep. But seriously, greenery is much more relaxing than the pixels on the screen, and as a result you’ll feel more calm and whole.
5. Write in a Journal
Or blog, if that’s your style. In any case, it’s a brilliant way to get back to the basics and practice some old fashioned introspection.
6. Be Bored
Say what? Yep, being bored can actually spur your creativity levels, which will undeniably get you to have some fun and bring out your inner child– or inventor. In a nutshell, it’s just another way to relax.
7. Engage in Your Interests
Like watching sports? Watch sports. Like cooking? Cook! Do what you like to do– your hobbies and interests– and just have a ball.
8. Take a Nap
If you’re generally bad with naps like me, Sara Mednick’s nap wheel might help. Power naps and naps in general are great ways to give you that boost of energy you need while letting you wind down.
9. Unplug From Social Media
Constant connection to social media can spread you thin. It’s simple: challenge yourself to stay away from anything that sends you notifications. The less connected we are to the vast social world on the net, the more connected we are to ourselves.
This one isn’t new. Meditation is a great way to calm the mind. Here are some easy meditation techniques for beginners.
11. Do Yoga
Yoga is just meditation with an added physical component– and it goes pretty deep to reduce stress. If this sounds right up in your alley, give it ago. If not, try it out anyway!
De-cluttering your physical environment actually works in de-cluttering your mind. Do the laundry, shine your shoes, organize your closet.
13. Take a Walk
If Passion Pit’s song doesn’t convince you enough, I don’t know what will! Taking a walk is so light, so simple, so easy… but it’s an opportunity for simple reflection and mind-wandering plus an added physical component.
Imagine: rainy days, cozy nook, interesting book. Sound calming? That’s because it is. Oh, and congrats and visualizing that description! That’s also a relaxing activity (see #3)
15. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
Sound silly? That’s because it is silly, you silly goose. Dancing will make you feel good, promise. Bonus– it also reduces muscle tension, and you can go along with your favorite beats.
16. Talk to Yourself
Before you question my sanity, try it out. Please. Talking to yourself, especially positive self-talk, is a powerful happiness-booster. Give yourself a pep talk. Or, just talk to yourself about your day, about your life, or about your feelings. This can allow you to realize (and then release) any negative feelings that you didn’t know you had before.
17. Cuddle with a Pet
Pets oftentimes just know what’s up. Well, maybe not your goldfish. But owning a cat or dog or really any other cuddle-y friend can actually lower your blood pressure.
18. Listen to Music
Get lost in some tunes, and you will find your special place. Hint: calming music can especially calm you.
19. Be with a Friend
Humans are social creatures. A lot of these relaxation steps involve much alone-time, but the truth is that hanging with the people you like will make you care-free and feel good. Simple science, really.
20. Learn Something New
Challenge yourself. Every dreamed to learn code? Archery? Under-water basket weaving? here’s your chance to have a blast, relax, and add a new skill-set to your credentials.
21. Say No
Sometimes busy agendas can explode– that is, if you keep saying yes. Know your limits and say no when you feel overwhelmed.
Release tension and gain flexibility! Stretching also gets your blood circulation going and does wonders to the lymph nodes, which are responsible for your immune system health. No wonder it’s also a component of yoga, which also lowers stress. Read more here.
23. Take a Bubble Bath
Soak in that soapy goodness and just wind down after a long day. Bubbles help.
24. Squeeze a Stress Ball
This one is a no-brainer. BUT, I rarely see anything with a stress ball when they’re stressed. Try it out and keep it with you if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed easily.
25. Look Out The Window
Again with the nature, except this one is a little more forgiving for those of you who have no choice but to stay seated for most of the day. If there’s a window around to, take advantage of the opportunity to see what’s out there!
26. Tickle Yourself
So you probably think I’m crazy and I’m not blaming you. Tickling yourself most likely won’t really work (if it does, then good for you!) but the key point here is laughing. Crack a joke, or even get tickled!
27. Watch a Movie
Popcorn and a movie is a simple, easy way to indulge and relax.
28. Eat Chocolate
It’s true! (…in moderation, of course.) Studies show that dark chocolate can actually reduce your stress levels.
It’s that simple. The physical act of smiling, even when you may not necessarily be in a smiling mood, is proven to still reduce stress.
30. Go Barefoot
This is one of the many ways to get in touch with nature as previously mentioned, BUT it has unique properties of its own. Walking barefoot outside might make you a hippie, but it’ll also helps you absorb free electrons from the Earth and has a surprisingly powerful antioxidant effect on the body, as explained here. If anything, however, going barefoot gives you a natural, spiritual connection with the Earth on which we live. Deep.
Bring out your inner Beyoncé. Pair this up with “dance like nobody’s watching” (see #15), and you’re set as a backup singer/dancer.
32. Treat Yourself
Go out for some froyo, splurge in that clutch bag, give in to a guilty pleasure. Treating yourself is just a reminder that life is good, and that you deserve to have a good time.
33. Scents Make Sense
Try out aromatherapy. Some scents, like lavender and jasmine. Check out this page for a more detailed list.
34. Do Your Research
It’s important to relax, but it’s equally important to understand what caused you to stress in the first place. Acknowledge whatever it is, as it may just be right under your nose.
35. Chew Gum
Chewing gum can actually lower stress! Pop one in your mouth, and you’re set.
36. Find a Relaxation Mentor
AKA, a positive role model who excels specifically in the field of staying relaxed. Find that one dude whose catch phrase is “take a chill pill!” (Not limited to people who grew up in the 90’s…) By looking to others who are good at being calm, you can also learn their tricks.
37. Be Spontaneous
Take an alternate route to work, spice up your morning routine, or take an impromptu trip to your favorite store. We’re so entrenched in routine, but a bit of spontaneity once in a while is good for you.
Any weird emotional tension? Let it go by forgiving others and yourself. Staying in the past is not worth missing the future.
Probably the easiest thing you can do, and it takes only a few seconds. No matter where you are or however difficult the situation at hand may be, taking a deep breath can calm you down.
40. Remember You’re Human
It starts with awareness. We all make mistakes. Let go of any perfectionist tendencies that may be dragging you down, and let go of any unrealistic standards that you set for yourself and fail to reach. So… Relax, remember you’re human, and go reap the harvests of life.
Featured photo credit: Gerd Altmann via .com
Think back to your last 24 hours. How many times did you feel stressed? Once? Twice? Nearly every hour?
Nowadays, it’s almost harder to avoid stress than to endure it. Nearly 4 in every 5 Americans experience the physical symptoms of stress daily. (Gallup)
With the modern day hustle, constant access to email and Slack, and the influences of social media, it’s really no surprise many of us feel this way.
But not all of us have the time (or $$) to take a yoga class, do a soulful spinning class, or get a relaxing massage each day. If we did, we probably wouldn’t be so stressed in the first place!
Our hectic lifestyles call for instant stress hacks – things you can do at your desk or on-the-go in less than 2 minutes, and then get on with your day.
So go ahead and try these 13 instant destress hacks. For best results, do ‘em with a friend, coworker, or partner – not only will it help reduce their stress, but will make your everyday environment that much more chill.
1. Count your breaths
Take 2 minutes to count your breaths, tapping on a keyboard key each time you breathe out.
Why it works:
Yogis and medical researchers alike swear on breathing, for good reason. It helps you relax by mimicking how your body actually feels when you’re relaxed.
While proponents usually advise to ‘concentrate on your breath,’ that’s admittedly difficult with so many distractions around us. Instead, counting your breath brings awareness to your breathing, and compels you to breathe deeply for at least 2 minutes. While you may be bored doing this at first, you’ll find that with a bit of practice, counting your breath will bring big returns.
2. Give a hug
Grab a friend, and squeeze ‘em tight.
Why it works:
Hugging activates the release of your “cuddle hormone” (aka, oxytocin), which elevates happiness and reduces stress.
In fact, a recent study at Carnegie Mellon found that hugging protects you from the stress-induced susceptibility to infection.
Bonus: Hugging not only reduces your stress, but will also reduce the stress of those around you. So if you and your BFF are both stressed about work, a simple hug will calm both of you down.
3. Create a constant reminder to chill
Change your phone background to an image that’ll help you destress.
Why it works:
Let’s face it: most of us are constantly looking at our phones. While this probably increases our day-to-day stress, we can also use phones as tools to destress.
How? Change your phone background to a photo of greenery, seascape, or simply the color blue – all are scientifically proven to reduce stress.
And to avoid the stress of your phone, try to keep it out of sight as much as you can – so it stays out of mind.
4. Unleash the power of lavender
Smell lavender when you’re feeling stressed – whether in the form of essential oil, hand cream, or even dried lavender.
Why it works:
When it comes to stress, lavender is something of a godsend. Believe it or not, science shows simply smelling lavender slows your heart rate and lowers anxiety.
That’s because lavender increases your GABA levels, which are neurotransmitters that make you feel relaxed (btw, it also helps you fall asleep).
So whether you prefer lavender oil, cream, candles, or dried lavender, stash some in your bag or put it on your desk, and whip it out when you’re feeling stressed. It’ll bring instant results.
5. Snack smart
Nosh on avocados, nuts, bananas, eggs, and/or brussels sprouts.
Why it works:
Turns out, your tummy is a major mediator of the stress response. The connection between the gut and brain is huge – it’s called the brain-gut axis.
So stress eating doesn’t have to be bad, as long as you do it right!
Research shows that omega-3s (like nuts, avocados, eggs, brussels sprouts etc) reduce inflammation, leading to less stress, while potassium (like bananas) helps regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress.
6. Talk to yourself
Work through your stress in your mind, referring to yourself in the third person. (Ex. “Mel, you’re going to make your deadline – you have five whole hours to finish your report.”)
Why it works:
This may seem awkward, but bare with us here. Studies conducted at Michigan State University found that when people refer to themselves in the 3rd person, their brains reduce their stress within one second.
Talk about instant.
Why? You feel the way you think – that’s where “fake it ‘till you make it” comes from. When you talk to yourself like you would talk to a good friend, you put distance between yourself and your emotions, giving yourself more of a third-party, birds eye view perspective of your stress.
7. Turn on some tunes
Listen to classical music, or any music you want, really.
Why it works:
You’ve probably heard that listening to classical music helps reduce stress. It slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and even decreases your stress hormones. Thanks, Chopin!
But if you’re not a Bach or Beethoven fan, no fret – you can still use music to calm yourself. Studies show that listening to any type of music you love – from Coldplay to Cardi B – will flood your brain with “feel good” neurotransmitters, aka dopamine, which reduces stress.
8. Watch a satisfying video
Tune into one of your favorite Oddly Satisfying Instagram accounts – and immerse yourself in ASMR.
Why it works:
We get pleasure from Oddly Satisfying videos as if we were actually performing these oddly satisfying activities – like cutting soap or crunching slime – ourselves. This serves as a form of microtherapy that satisfies and relaxes our brain and body.
These videos are basically a shortcut to a blissed-out, meditative state.
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Pink different. #CoveredByLemonade
9. Practice gratitude
Write down 3 things you’re thankful for, both at the beginning and end of your day.
Why it works:
Gratitude isn’t just a fad – it makes you happier, and also reduces stress. Win win.
Gratitude calms the emotional center of your brain that regulates your mood (aka, the limbic system), and also activates the region of your brain that manages metabolism, sleep, and body temperature (the hypothalamus).
Gratitude also helps you notice the positives in your life and maintain an optimistic attitude, which stabilizes your cortisol levels and reduces stress!
10. Light a candle
Boost your environment by lighting a scented candle, and focus on the flame and candle’s scent.
Why it works:
Candles are scientifically proven to soothe us because of the flame – the soft illumination relaxes our minds, increases self-awareness, and reduces stress.
The most relaxing candles are those with scents, since fragrances are gateways to our memories, experiences, and emotions. So when choosing your candle, try to grab a jasmine, lavender, vanilla, or pine variation. They’ll make you feel like you just walked out of a massage.
11. Chew gum
Take a pack of gum with you wherever you go, and chew a piece when you need to destress.
Why it works:
Gum is on the top of the list when it comes to easy, quick stress relievers. That’s because chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain, and causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people.
In fact, a study showed that people who chew gum have a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress. We’re lookin’ at you, Sweet Mint.
12. Try the Naam Yoga Hand Trick
Apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (aka, the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers).
Why it works:
Not just for yogis, this simple hand trick reduces stress in seconds.
Applying this pressure activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, which creates a sense of instant calm. Just like breathing, it takes very little time, is free, and you can do it wherever you are, whenever you want!
13. Focus on the upside of stress
Reframe your stress as positive, and channel your stress into energy that boosts your performance.
Why it works:
In her book The Upside of Stress, Kelly McGonigal provides science-backed evidence that stress is only actually harmful if you believe it is. If you see stress as positive, you can use it as a force for good.
Consider this: A Harvard study found that students who told themselves that they were “excited” before a presentation were much more persuasive than students who were “calm.”
So no matter where you are, or who you’re with, do this: The next time you’re stressed out, change your negative self-talk into something that’s not relaxing, but encouraging – and use that energy to make things happen.
30 Science-Backed Ways to Relax When You’re Totally Stressed Out
Stress is everywhere. It’s hiding in the dozens of unread emails in our inboxes, in the accusatory tone of our boss when he asks why those reports haven’t been filed yet, and in the dirty pile of unwashed dishes in the sink. However, just because stress is commonplace, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of 24/7 anxiety. To help you out, we’ve compiled the most effective ways to de-stress when life becomes too much to handle. So relax, center yourself, and read on.
1 Smile—even if it’s forced.
It sounds crazy, but when it comes to de-stressing, it’s often helpful to fake it ’til you make it. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, forcing a fake smile actually helps reduce stress.
For the study, subjects were asked to plunge their hands into a bucket of ice water—some while smiling, and others reacting naturally. The researchers monitored the subjects’ heart rates throughout the exercise and it turned out, those who smiled during the icy experiment had lower heart rates. What’s more, the smilers reported less anxiety than those who showed neutral or distressed expressions.
2 Sit up straight.
One 2015 study published in the journal Health Psychology found that sitting upright in the face of stress can boost self-esteem and fend off further angst. The idea is based on the concept of “embodied cognition,” which maintains that our bodies impact our emotions (and vice versa). So the next time you’re stressed, remember to plant both feet on the ground, look straight ahead, straighten your back, and feel your shoulder blades pull back and down.
3 Sniff some flowers.
Taking a moment to stop and smell the roses might just be the thing that helps you de-stress. One 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that when people touched and smelled plants, they were subsequently less stressed and less anxious.
4 Or sniff a sweet-smelling essential oil.
If you really want to relax, then consider investing in a few essential oils. In a 2016 study from the University of Montana, researchers found that when college students were told to sniff essential oils—specifically chamomile, clary sage, or lavender—they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress and improvements in sleep quality and energy levels.
5 Watch a funny movie.
It might sound cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to combatting stress. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that mirth actually can be effective at treating a range of maladies, stress among them. So next time you’re feeling wound up, do yourself a favor and chuckle yourself back to calmness.
Being the president of the United States is a pretty stressful gig—and, according to an article in The Atlantic, many heads of state used drawing as a solution. “Dwight Eisenhower drew sturdy, 1950s images: tables, pencils, nuclear weapons. Herbert Hoover’s scrawl provided the pattern for a line of rompers. Ronald Reagan dispensed cheery cartoons to aides,” the article explains. So next time you’re feeling stressed out, grab a pen and paper and see if the same technique works for you.
7 Take a quick bath.
One of the easiest ways to de-stress is in the tub. In a 2018 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that subjects who bathed for just 10 minutes a day for two weeks in hot water saw improved mental and emotional health.
8 Chew some gum.
Here’s something to chew on: One 2009 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that chewing gum helped reduce cortisol levels and perceived anxiety among study participants.
9 Do something kind for someone else.
When we’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, many of us feel unable to allot time or energy to anyone else’s problems. However, research has shown that the act of giving can activate the area of the brain associated with positive feelings, which will both lift your spirits and alleviate stress.
Whether you help someone lift a stroller up a flight of stairs or pay a toll for the person driving behind you, doing something good for someone else can go a long way in the fight against anxiety.
10 Hit the gym.
According to the Mayo Clinic, virtually any type of exercise can be an effective stress reliever. That’s because breaking a sweat increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, which in turn improves your mood and takes your mind off of whatever it is that’s stressing you out.
11 Listen to some soothing music.
Unsurprisingly, one of the easiest ways to de-stress is with some soothing music. One 2013 study published in the journal PLOS One found that when subjects were exposed to stress-inducing tests, listening to calming sounds like classical music and recorded rippling waters helped them keep their cortisol levels down and return to a state of equilibrium post-stressor.
12 Play with your pet.
Add stress relief to the list of benefits of owning a pet. A 2002 study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that, when compared to people without pets, pet owners had overall lower heart rates and blood pressure levels, reacted less intensely in stressful situations, and were better able to recover following anxiety-inducing encounters.
13 Take a boxing class.
If you’re desperate for a quick fix, consider taking your aggression out on a punching bag. Not only has boxing in the face of stress been shown to alleviate anxiety, but it’s also a great total body workout!
14 Try yoga.
Yoga has been shown countless times to have just as many mental health benefits as it does physical health benefits. And while most yoga practices are 60 to 90 minutes long, holding a single pose for a short period of time can yield great stress-busting benefits.
15 Don’t forget to stretch!
A little bit of stretching goes a long way in the fight against stress. When researchers from Spain’s Universidad de Zaragoza had subjects stretch for 10 minutes every day for three months in 2013, they found that they were less anxious, happier, and more flexible than those who didn’t partake in stretch breaks. So even just a few minutes of stretching every day is enough to significantly soothe your stress.
16 Spend some time away from your phone.
Constant cellphone vibrations and email alerts keep us in fight-or-flight mode by stimulating bursts of adrenaline. Sure, adrenaline served our ancestors well when they ran into lions and tigers—but these days, it only serves to stress us out unnecessarily.
So, the next time you’re feeling overly stressed, make sure to power down your phone for a little while. You may miss a few texts and Twitter alerts, but at the end of the day, your mental health and mood will thank you for the break.
Meditation is one of the greatest stress relief tools there is—and you needn’t do it for hours on end to experience its mind-cooling benefits. According to a 2014 meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation can improve anxiety levels, improve mental health, and help with depression. Ready to meditate until you’re feeling mellow? Download an app like Headspace, which will walk you through guided stress-busting meditation sessions.
18 Get it on.
Feeling stressed? Sex might just be the solution! “Sex is a powerful, powerful stress-buster,” says Daniel Kirsch, Ph.D., president of the American Institute of Stress. “It releases endorphins and induces deep relaxation.”
19 Kiss your partner.
A faster way to de-stress that’s just as fun as having sex? Kissing your partner. Research published in 2009 in the Western Journal of Communication found that locking lips unleashed chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes.
20 Write down the things you’re grateful for.
Research has shown that taking a little time to be grateful for what you’ve got is a potent stress buster. One 2015 study published by the American Psychology Association looked at approximately 185 people with heart failure and found that being grateful and writing down feelings of gratitude helped them feel less anxious and less depressed.
“Journaling about gratitude is a reliable exercise,” study author Paul Mills, Ph.D., said in a press release. “The more things you can identify, the more your perception of wellbeing begins to change.”
21 Squeeze a stress ball.
Stress balls, fidget spinners, and other tactile playthings can recenter your drifting focus away from stressful thoughts and toward something more tangible. Plus, who doesn’t love squeezing a squishy stress ball?
22 Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing—which encourages the full exchange of oxygen in the body—activates your body’s calming parasympathetic response and lowers levels of inflammatory compounds linked to stress.
Do it right by pushing your belly out on your inhale and contracting it in when you exhale. (In other words, your stomach should rise when you breathe in and shrink when you breathe out.) Pro tip: Hold your hand on your stomach as you breathe to ensure you’ve nailed it.
23 Phone a friend.
A strong support system is one of the best weapons in the face of stress. In fact, a 2011 study in the journal Developmental Psychology found that simply being around one close friend kept subjects’ cortisol levels down during stressful situations. If your bestie isn’t in close range, simply giving them a call or shooting them a text should do the trick.
24 Get some sun.
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin, which is associated with boosting one’s mood. If you don’t have time to spend the entire afternoon in the park, even just taking a few minutes to walk outside and soak up some rays could turn your stressful day around.
25 Spend some time in nature.
In a 2018 study published in the journal Health & Place, researchers concluded that there is a direct link between time spent in green space and reduced stress levels. (The Japanese call it “forest bathing.”) Our bodies were designed to be in and near green spaces, forests, or bodies of water, the researchers note, and that’s why we find a bucolic milieu so agreeable.
Can’t get to greenery in the middle of the day? Some research suggests that even looking at photos of nature can calm stressed minds.
26 Shout your favorite curse word.
When in doubt, swear your stress out. When researchers at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, asked a group of volunteers submerge their hands in freezing cold water in 2017, they found that using strong language helped participants keep their hands in for longer. The researchers’ conclusion? Foul language can be a useful way to tolerate pain and duress.
27 Eat your greens.
One of the easiest (and healthiest!) ways to de-stress is with more fruits and veggies. A 2012 study from the University of Otago found that students who ate more fruits and vegetables also tended to feel calmer and happier—and conversely, those who didn’t consume enough greens were more stressed.
28 Drink tea instead of coffee.
Highly caffeinated cups of coffee can give you much-needed energy boosts—but if you consume too much, you can end up elevating your stress levels and the hormones associated with them. So, instead of coffee, try tea. In a 2007 British study published in Psychopharmacology, people who drank black tea throughout the day experienced a 47 percent drop in their cortisol levels 50 minutes after performing stressful tasks compared to just a 27 percent drop in the placebo group who received fake tea.
29 Bust a move.
We know that both exercise and music are surefire ways to de-stress, so combining these into one activity—dancing—is a great way to calm down even faster.
30 Look at a happy photo.
With Facebook and Instagram, it’s never been easier to find and enjoy images that you associate with your own happiness. So, next time you’re feeling out of sorts and stressed out, revisit pictures from a great vacation, a fun wedding, or a night on the town, and remind yourself just how fun life can be. You’ll be hard-pressed to stay stressed when you’re staring at some of the best moments of your life!
10 Tips to Help You De-Stress
These days it seems everyone is living and breathing stress. Trying to undo the tension can just add more stress if you take the wrong approach. But there’s no need to do that; there are many healthy, proven ways to get stress relief.
Stress Relief: 10 Tips to Help You De-Stress
Here are some tried and true tips to get stress relief:
- Exercise. “Run, do some yoga, punch a bag at the gym,” advises Charles Goodstein, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine in New York City and president of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. Exercise is a way to manage stress that doesn’t have to add to your financial woes. For example, a 20-minute walk or jog around your block can yield up to 12 hours of improved mood. The main thing is to find a physical activity that you enjoy, whether it’s dancing or fly fishing.
- Socialize. Spending time with friends and family who give you a sense of belonging, purpose, and fun may provide all the stress relief you need.
- Write. Dedicating a period of time every day to write about a situation that is bothering you may reduce tension and give you stress relief for the rest of the day. Keeping a journal can also help you solve problems or find positive angles amongst the stressors.
- Laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. It is proven to lower tension, and at the same time, improves blood flow and the health of your heart. Rent a funny movie or hang out with that wannabe-comedian pal, and forget about your worries for a while.
- Take care of yourself. When tension spikes, it can be tempting to put yourself last — but prioritizing healthy eating, physical activity, relationships, and sleep is necessary if you want to avoid making your stress worse.
- Get some fresh air. If you are cooped up inside all day, take a few minutes to get outside and see the sun. A little time in the great outdoors can improve your mood and help you relax.
- Be kind to yourself. Think about positive affirmations daily. Thinking negative thoughts only makes you feel bad and will increase stress. Tell yourself you are doing a good job, and believe it!
- Meditate. Practice deep breathing and meditation exercises daily, and when you feel tension rising.
- Be thankful. Showing thanks for your family, friends, and loved ones and being thankful for the positive aspects of your life has a calming affect. Not only does it give you perspective, it makes other people feel good, too.
- Make a change. Sometimes the best way to obtain stress relief is to remove your source of tension. “For example, if you are in a job working at a certain pace in an environment that is objectively painful because of your boss, coworkers, and so on, and you’re doing it because you can earn 10 percent more money than doing something else, you could calculate that you might be better off doing something else,” says Dr. Goodstein.
Stress Relief: Unwise Choices
Many people turn to unhealthy choices in an attempt to cope with tension, says Goodstein. These include:
- Substance abuse
- Drinking alcohol to excess
Even a seemingly harmless source of stress relief, such as computer games, can add to your problems if it cuts into the time you need to take care of yourself. Chances are that if you play computer games more than seven hours a week, you could be losing two hours of sleep a night — which will actually add to your tension in the long run. If you notice that you are starting to depend on unhealthy sources of stress relief and you can’t make a change on your own, seek help.
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Stress Relief: When Tension Signals a Deeper Problem
Goodstein says he would prefer that people use proven tension-taming steps to gain stress relief instead of taking a medication, but there are times when people need more help. “Some stressors are chronic and unremitting,” he says. “You may want to take a broad overview of your life to see if you have allowed yourself to be encumbered by factors that are making your life unpleasant.” If so, consider making a lifestyle change, he says.
If you’ve been hiking, socializing, and taking care of yourself and you still have high levels of stress, talk to your doctor. Your tension could be a sign of another health issue.
Remember, you don’t have to live with tension. In fact, not only is tension unpleasant, but it is unhealthy. Keep trying out stress-relief techniques until you find the ones that work for you.