Work deadlines. School demands. Family squabbles. Maddening commutes. Financial strains. High-maintenance friends. Unrealistic expectations.
The sources of stress in our everyday lives are endless, virtually innumerable and often relentless. And there’s nothing positive that comes from stress. It affects our relationships, our attitudes and dispositions, our work and our health, both physical and mental. If left unaddressed, stress can overwhelm the nervous system and inflict emotional damage, while wearing down our bodies. Those who don’t address it often pay a dear price.
Therapy can be helpful but few of us have the time or the resources for it. Thankfully, there are other ways to combat stress and many of them are easy and readily available. Incorporate a few in your life and, hopefully, you’ll reduce your stress level, boost your energy, lighten your mood and improve your physical and emotional health.
Here are some ways to relieve stress naturally:
- Exercise: It provides a distraction from stressful situations, an outlet for frustrations and an uplifting boost from post-workout endorphins.
- Yoga: Yoga is one of the best exercises to relieve stress. The combination of breathing techniques, meditation, imagery, movements and held poses provides an ideal method of stress relief.
- Get a Message: It improves circulation and delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells, which helps reduce anxiety and promotes relaxation. Massage isn’t just for sore muscles. Getting a massage for stress is just as beneficial.
- Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing relaxes muscles and quiets the mind. It also lowers cortisol levels, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Visualization: Visualizing a calm or peaceful scene, or even an old happy place, can work wonders, as can envisioning yourself achieving goals, improving yourself or performing well at a task or athletic endeavor.
- Mediation: Taking deep breathing exercises even farther, meditation allows your brain to enter a state close to sleep, offering a relief from stress thanks to peaceful, mental silence.
- Self-Hypnosis: Not everyone can do it but those who do are able to communicate directly with their subconscious mind to enhance their abilities, end bad habits, feel less pain, develop better habits and even discover answers to questions that aren’t clear to the conscious self.
- Music: Stress management by music works wonders. Music triggers biochemical stress reducers, which can lower blood pressure, relax the body and calm the mind. It’s also great to use music for relaxation to avert stress.
- Laughter: Go to a comedy show, watch a funny movie or hang out with a hilarious friend because laughter makes you relax and forget, however briefly, about the causes of your stress.
- Aromatherapy: Several aromas, most notably lavender, have been shown to consistently reduce stress levels.
- Pets: Never underestimate the power of a loyal, affectionate pooch. Dog owners have been shown to be less stressed out than others.
- Drink Black Tea: Studies have shown that drinking black tea leads to lower post-stress cortisol levels and a greater feeling of relaxation.
- Nap: It’s such a simple solution. Napping lowers blood pressure and reduces cortisol levels, which can result in stress relief.
- Chew Gum: While certainly not the end-all to stress relief, chewing can actually reduce cortisol levels and ease stress a bit.
- Start an Art Project: Art projects are fun activities to relieve stress. Refocusing the mind on something artistic and tapping into creativity can lower blood pressure.