Stress is a frequent occurrence that can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. But the good news is that stress is manageable. With some healthy strategies, you can reduce stress levels in no time!
Feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation?
Here are 8 effective stress-relievers to calm down your mind, body, and soul.
1. Eat right
Numerous studies support the link of healthy eating with lower stress levels. A proper, balanced diet is thus a key to a healthy and stress-free lifestyle.
Stress-eating is a pretty common phenomenon. When we’re stressed, we tend to resort to comfort foods, which are often junk and sugary snacks. Try to switch these with some fruits and vegetables. Some stress reducing nutrients to keep a lookout for are vitamin c, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re more of a coffee person, try switching that up with some herbal tea. Caffeine can cause spikes in blood pressure and aggravate anxiety and stress symptoms. A healthy cup of tea will help calm your nervous system down. It also contains tons of antioxidants, providing immediate relief from stress.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise will get your blood moving and circulating, and thus releasing endorphins and flushing out the stress hormones to boost your mood instantly. By exercise, we don’t mean you start powerlifting at the gym. You can do anything you enjoy from dancing to cycling, as long as you get in some physical activity.
If your job involves sitting on the office chair six hours a day, try incorporating stretching into your routine whenever you take a short break. This will keep you from any unnecessary buildup of stress or anxiety.
3. Talk it out
When you feel overwhelmed or are under a lot of stress, it’s often helpful to call up a friend or family member and talk about your problems with them. They can see the issue from another perspective and might be able to offer better solutions. Connecting with loved ones will help you deal with what you’re going through and a reassuring voice can also help you relax. The bottom line is that a good relationship and a decent social support network contribute to a healthy lifestyle and can get you through any stressor in life.
If you don’t have someone to consult (or you don’t want to), you can also talk it out with yourself. Positive self talk is a great activity everyone should adopt in life. Walk yourself through the whole process again and reassure yourself that everything will be fine. We can guarantee, it will feel immensely therapeutic!
4. Take deep breaths
When we feel stressed, we tend to take quicker, shallow breaths. And that is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. Take long and deep breaths, count from 1 to 5, and focus on your lungs as they expand and relax. Deep breathing increases the concentration of oxygen in your blood and helps clear the mind.
Meditation combines physical and mental exercises to make you more mindful and reduce stress. You can ignore the negative thoughts and focus instead on the positive ones. Try meditating every once in a while and you’ll begin seeing improvements in your lifestyle.
Another way of positive thinking is by showing gratitude. Maybe you loved spending time with your mother and you’re grateful for the pasta you had for dinner. Appreciate the good things in your life, no matter how small they are.
5. Take a walk
Walking can help reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and instead trigger the release of pleasure chemicals such as serotonin. Aside from being biologically beneficial, taking a walk can also help clear your mind and think things through when you’re under stress.
Go for a walk in the park or take a stroll through the beach – nature is a natural stress reliever. When you are around nature, you tend to feel better emotionally and your body relaxes. In daylight, you can even get an extra dose of vitamin D to boost your mood.
6. Journaling to reduce stress
Writing down your feelings and emotions is another easy and effective way to reduce stress. It helps release the negative energy, reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Try spending about 15 minutes everyday penning down your thoughts in a journal. This will give you a perspective on the situation you are dealing with while also relieving the stress.
Alternatively, you can also do some art to get all your negative (and positive) thoughts out. ‘Art therapy’ is known to be a therapeutic process of relieving stress and anxiety. Expressing your feelings through drawing, colouring, and painting serves as an easy way of putting out the uncontrollable thoughts into something you can control.
7. Listen to music
Another simple way to reduce stress levels is to calm yourself by listening to relaxing music. A relaxing music tone can significantly reduce cortisol (the main stress hormone), balance the blood pressure level, and maintain a normal heart rate. Music with slow beats and a slow rhythm can also slow down the brain, helping it to relax.
Listen to any song you like as long as it has a soothing beat. Or you could even listen to simple sounds such as the ocean, waves, or forest sounds (remember how we said nature is a natural stress-reliever!)
8. Prioritise your sleep
A stressful situation may often cause you to lose sleep. However, a lack of proper sleep will only worsen your condition. Your body and brain will remain overworked and under-rested. This is why it is important to improve your sleep cycle for a healthy lifestyle. Set a strict bedtime and turn off all your devices an hour before that. Dim the lights, play some calming music and try to relax before going to bed. And remember: eight hours of sleep per day is key!
From minor obstacles to major crises, stress is something that affects everyone and it’s often unavoidable. Learn your way through it to help improve the quality of your life.
When you need extra help dealing with stress
At certain times in our lives we may need extra assistance to manage our levels of stress.
Counsellors can assist with stress management techniques and provide a safe space to discuss the cause of your stressors. You can find out more about individual counselling here or contact us for further information or assistance.