How to Reduce Stress
Let's face it, stress is unpleasant. What if you could find some ways to relieve stress naturally?
The time to relax
is when you don’t have time for it.
—Sydney J. Harris
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10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
Stress is a common, but undesirable condition. Stress can raise blood pressure, affect your body’s immune response, and even lead to sleeping problems. You can do some simple things to reduce its impact.
A session in a yoga class can go a long way towards relieving stress. But if you don’t have time for that, try some simple stretches. These body stretches can be done even while sitting at a desk. Gentle and slow is the key.
Forward and Back
Sit straight in your chair. Place both feet flat on the floor. Exhale as you slowly round your spine forward. Then inhale as you arch your spine backwards. Repeat slowly. Five times, five slow deep breaths.
Side to Side
Extend your arms straight up. Inhale slowly and stretch to the right as you exhale. Inhale as you come back to the center, then exhale as you stretch to the left. Repeat five times both sides.
Arms to the side, elbows bent. Inhale slowly. Rotate your torso to the right as you exhale. Inhale as you turn back to the center. Exhale and twist to the left. Repeat five times both sides.
Exercise releases endorphins, a hormone that helps you feel good. A bike ride along a river or a run around a lake are great stress breakers. If you don’t have time or the place for this type of exercise, just get yourself moving, even for a minute. Try a quick walk around the office, circle a few times. Walk up and down the stairs several times. Stair-stepping is a great fitness activity and no need to pay the gym. Do anything to get your blood moving and this will clear your head and improve your mood quickly and easily. Being phyisically fit can even help prevent feelings of stress.
Stress happens on in both mental and physical ways. Meditation allows you to be more mindful and relaxed. Mindfulness means paying attention to how you move through the day. Watch as all your movements become slow, deliberate, and relaxed. Try these two ways to meditate.
Stand and focus on relaxing your body. Create good posture—chest erect, shoulders back and down, head and neck straightened. Begin walking slowly and deliberately. Inhale as you count four steps. Then exhale as you take four steps. Continue this meditation for 3-4 minutes or longer. Walking meditations are best in a place where there are few distractions. Even a small outdoor area or large room can be circled. To learn how, read the article Walking Meditation 10 Basic Techniques.
A comfortable sitting position with good relaxed posture is key. You might sit on the floor with a cushion or you can even sit erect in a chair. Inhale slowly as you count to 4, then slowly exhale as you count to four. Focus on your breathing and try not to think of anything. Just keep returning to counting your breaths whenever your mind wanders.
If focused meditation is not your thing, you can still benefit immensely from simply breathing deeply and calmly. If you can sit in a peaceful spot for five minutes or so, great. Just take nice deep breaths. Even if you are in a business meeting, while someone else is doing the talking, allow yourself to take slow, deep breaths. It can help to clear your head and allow the stress to flow out. Be aware when you feel your stress level rising. Prevent the stress from taking hold by taking a big deep breath as an immediate defense. Shallow breathing is both a result and a cause of stress. On the other hand, deep breathing brings oxygen to the blood, helps you to feel more centered, and clears your mind.
6. Listen to Music
Music can soothe stressful feelings. Take a break from everything and try listening to easy, relaxing music. Listening to calm music can lower blood pressure and have a positive effect on both mind and body. Relaxing music may also reduce cortisol, which is a hormone affected by stress. At the same time, try drinking soothing herbal tea. Camomile or mint teas have no stimulating caffeine. And green teas are very high in antioxidants and amino acids that can have a calming or soothing effect. Lear more about the joyful effects of music in your life.
6 Talk It Out
Talking about your feelings is a good outlet for stress. Stress often results from taking on too much responsibilities with a pressure of deadlines. A different perspective from a friend or loved one can help to put another spin on your internal stress or tension. Sometimes just talking about it can get your concerns off your mind. If talking it out isn’t an option, try writing down whatever is bothering you.
4. Laugh It Off
Let’s face it, sometimes we tend to take things a little too seriously. When feeling stress, you may not feel like laughing. But laughter releases endorphins that can trick your nervous system into making you feel happy. Sharing jokes with others is a good way to initiate laughter and help you to feel better. Practice telling jokes. If your stress is based on taking things too seriously, joking can relieve those pent up feelings.
Smile! Even if you are not in a place where you can laugh out loud, you can change your mood just by smiling. Start off with a big grin. Though it may be fake, if you keep the grin for a few minutes your mood will change to match the smile. Take the time to change your expression, as well. Try smiling with your eyes along with the big grin. This will give you a lighter, more pleasant facial expression. Guaranteed to ease into happier, less stressful interactions with others.
3. Eat Right
Some foods are great stress relievers, but the greatest benefits come from practicing a good diet. Sugary snacks and greasy fast foods are tempting when you are pressed for time and busy. But these are the worst choices in a stressful world. Fruits and vegetables are much better for stabilizing the body. Fish and other foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are also good for reducing stress feelings. Avoid the candy counter or the fast food joint. Plan ahead and keep up the healthy diet choices.
2. Get Organized
Often stress happens when you are feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time to do it in. Keeping your affairs better organized can help you to accomplish what you need to do in the right amount of time. Try creating To-Do lists that help you to outline and organize your blocks of time. Use a day planner. Be sure to work at keeping your priorities straight to avoid taking on unnecessary work. Focus first on the large things that really matter and then take on the details. If your desk of house is in disorder, just keeping things straight can alleviate the stress. So start with one small pile of papers, or take care of one bill, or clean out just one drawer. From a small start can arise great beginnings.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
Stress can cause sleep difficulties such as insomnia. Tossing and turning at night, feeling like your mind is on overdrive, and thoughts or worries that just won’t quit are all conditions that can lead to loss of sleep. Not enough sleep at night has a strong link to stress and stressful feelings. Not only can stress cause you to lose sleep, but the lack of sleep is a major cause of stress. It becomes a vicious cycle. Drink warm milk or soothing herbal teas and try your best to get to sleep early on a regular basis.
Stress is undesirable in your life, yet it may be unavoidable. By using a few of the strategies above, you can reduce your stress, work more productively, feel physically happier, and mentally more relaxed. Reducing or relieving stress is a truly healthy gift you give to yourself.
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