When you are stressed, your heart beats faster, your stomach tightens, and your muscles tense up. Neuroscientists call this the fight-or-flight response. And when you are stressed for extended periods of time, it can cause serious mental and physical health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.
To feel calmer, you must quiet the stress response. You might be surprised to learn that there are some fast ways to do that. Let’s look at some of those.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to tame your body’s stress response. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
So, whenever you feel anxious or stressed, stop what you are doing and take 5 deep breaths: breathe in through your nose while counting to 5 (1-2-3-4-5) and then breathe out through your mouth while counting to 5 (1-2-3-4-5).
Take several minutes out of each day to concentrate on deep breathing. You can do this anywhere at any time—sitting at your desk at work or school, taking a walk outside, or laying down in bed before going to sleep for the night. In fact, doing deep breathing exercises before bedtime is an excellent way to reduce stress and fall asleep faster!
Think of One Thing You’re Grateful For
People who practice gratitude are less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. They also feel more connected to other people.
The reason gratitude is so effective in alleviating stress is because the one thing you can change in any stressful situation is your perspective. When you choose to see the good instead of the bad, you will find that more good comes into your life.
When you feel stressed, stop what you’re doing and think about one thing you’re grateful for. Visualize it in your mind as you breathe deeply in and out.
Shift Your Perspective to Now
The antidote to stress is perspective. You can only ever experience the present moment, even when worrying about the future or regretting the past. And yet most people spend very little time in the present moment.
The solution? Think about now, not the future or past.
Stress does not come from events; it comes from the way people think about those events. And for the most part, your thoughts are entirely in your control. You can choose to focus on that which is positive and fulfilling, or you can choose to focus on what is negative and upsetting. Which will you choose?
Drink a Glass of Water
Did you know that even mild dehydration can affect your mood? Studies show that even mild dehydration can trigger a ‘down’ mood, reduce motivation, and cause fatigue. Even dehydration at a level that you don’t feel thirsty can negatively affect mood. When you’re feeling stressed, drink a big glass of water and sit and relax while you’re doing it. Also, drink more water and less caffeine, in general, to help tame your body’s stress response.
Change Your Scenery
If you’re feeling stressed, change your scenery. Step outside into the sunshine and fresh air. Studies show that being in nature reduces rumination, the tendency to worry, and repetitive negative thoughts. If you only have a minute, a breath of fresh air may be all the time you can spare. But if you have more time, take a walk outdoors in a green space and feel your stress melt away.
Harness the Power of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a holistic alternative treatment that involves using essential oils extracted from plants and flowers to help balance the mind, body, and spirit.
Lavender and chamomile are popular choices for stress relief. You can mix these oils with a carrier oil and rub them on your skin or, if you have more time, add a few drops to a warm bath. Another way to get their benefits is to add them to an aromatherapy diffuser and enjoy the aroma while you work.
Because essential oils are so potent, it’s important not to take them internally unless under the care of a doctor or trained herbalist experienced in using them internally.
The Bottom Line
With so much going on in the world today, it’s important to find quick and effective ways to manage stress. Having a few techniques up your sleeve can help you feel relaxed and at ease whenever you need them so that stress does not get the best of you. Give these stress relief tips a try!
Cho, M. Y., Min, E. S., Hur, M. H., & Lee, M. S. (2013). Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care