Stress looks different for everybody and triggers responses that vary from individual to individual. What is it that stresses you out? Stress is our bodies reaction to the changing environment around us. Our bodies react to these changes with emotional, physical and mental responses. What are your responses to stress? Maybe you get bogged down and tired, or maybe you cannot stop tapping your feet. Whatever your responses may be, they are not always ideal. We are here to share with you seven effective stress management techniques that we love.
While exercise may not necessarily remind you of relaxation, it certainly does help with reducing stress and promoting a feeling of relaxation. When you exercise, even as little as 15 minutes, your body undergoes physiological changes. Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals then react with receptors in your brain to reduce pain and stress. The result is happiness and a positive feeling which resembles that from morphine. That is often why you hear athletes say they are on a “runners high”. The flood of endorphins eliminates stress and pain and creates a rush of happiness. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try sweating it out! Or if you do not have time for a full workout, simply try doing some jumping jacks, push-ups, or whatever else you can think of!
Meditation is the art of breathing to relax and take a step back from daily life activities. It is a technique used to clear your mind of any distraction, worries, or thoughts. It uses body and mind awareness to control your thoughts. It sounds difficult, but it does not have to be. Start off by sitting or lying down and closing your eyes. You can approach this technique in silence or add peaceful, calming music in the background. Next you want to just breathe naturally. Pay close attention to your breath and how your body is moving in relation to these breaths. The key idea here is to not let your mind wander to outside thoughts, but instead focus on your breathing and your body to stray away from anything that is causing stress.
Listen to Calming Music
They say music is powerful, and that is easily observed here. No matter what music you are listening to, it will provide a certain emotion depending on what type it is. For stress relief, you will want to try slow paced, meditative music. Perhaps the first type of stress-relieving music that comes to mind is nature sounds such as rain falling or fire crackling. Another suggestion is slow classical or piano music. Another type to try is Native American pieces because of the use of string instruments and flutes. Soft sounds such as the ones above lower heart rate and blood pressure, therefore reducing your stress levels.
Take a Break!
Take a break from whatever is causing you stress to do something you enjoy. Even if it is for as little as five minutes, taking a step back from your thoughts to do something that gives you peace could save the day! For example, if you are stressed out at the computer doing work, try stepping away for about 5-20 minutes (or longer if you need to) and walk around, read a book, or play with your pets! Really, the options are endless and customizable to suit your needs and give you more “me time.” This makes this technique one of our favorites because each individual can do whatever it is that will allow them to not focus on the stress.
Talk it Out
It is very common for people to vent or rant when they are experiencing stressful situations. This is a good thing! Humans were meant to communicate with each other and depend on each other for help. Talking with a trustworthy person can help you feel relieved when you get it out of your system. This person can be a friend, family member, or even a pet. (You know what they say, pets are the best listeners!) Venting quite literally takes thoughts out of your system and allows you to hear them aloud, making it easier to process yourself.
Shift your Mindset
We know it is easier said than done, but sometimes all it takes is a tiny tweak of your mindset to provide a more positive feeling. When negative situations or experiences happen, it is often said that situations are 10% what happens and 90% how you react to them. Instead of thinking of the negative side of situations, try to hone your focus in on the positive aspects. Say for instance, you get cut from a sports team. Instead of focusing on just that statement, you can focus on the positive outcomes of it: you may become motivated to practice even harder, you get more time to spend with family and friends, or maybe you even pick up an entirely new sport that you are better at. Sometimes situations do not magically go away, so you have to make the choice to make it better. The point is, the grass is greener where you choose to water it!
Improve Your Sleep Quality
Stress can be exacerbated by poor sleep quality. When we don’t have enough hours of sleep (hello, parents!), we tend to eat more than usual and have less patience, and a tougher time making wise decisions, not to mention a shorter temper too. Analyze your sleep quality, even if you are getting 7-8 hours/night. Do you wake up often during the night? Do you have blackout curtains? Are you dreaming of your to-do’s and don’t feel rested in the morning? Notice your sleep patterns and talk to a specialist about how you can improve them. Additionally, you may find that a little bit of melatonin goes a long way, especially when paired with other natural ingredients to relax you.
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These are some of many ways to reduce stress, and we hope that you incorporate them into your daily life to help you successfully conquer stress. Do you have any other favorites? We would love to hear them!