Reducing stress is a lot easier said than done. However, with the right habits and techniques, it’s possible to find relief from stress as often as you need it. In fact, studies show that individuals who discover stress-relieving activities and habits feel less stressed over time. A little bit of stress can be good for you—it helps you meet deadlines and accomplish goals faster. But prolonged and unaddressed stress has a negative impact on your physical and mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and more. These effects are known collectively as ‘the stress response’ because they are triggered when your body responds to stressful situations. With this in mind, here are seven ways you can reduce stress today:
When you are stressed, your breathing becomes shallow, which also triggers a fight-or-flight response in your body. Deep breathing, on the other hand, can help you relax and reduce stress as well as focus better. There are many different types of breathing exercises you can try to reduce stress. The key is to choose one that will help you focus on your breathing so you can calm down. Here are a few options:
Deep breathing is also a great way to start the day. You can do it lying down, sitting up, or even standing up. It doesn’t really matter where you do it as long as you focus on your breathing. This is a wonderful way to relax and release the stress you might be holding onto from the previous day. You can also use deep breathing as a way to help you focus and calm down when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lift your mood, and improve sleep. Additionally, it will help you lose weight and combat high blood pressure, among other health benefits. The best types of exercise for relieving stress are those that get your heart racing, including running, swimming, cycling, rowing, hiking, or dancing. But any type of physical activity will help reduce stress and improve your overall health and well-being, including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. If you find that you’re feeling more stressed than usual, consider making time for a 20-minute cardio workout. Exercising regularly will not only help you reduce stress, but it’ll also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve your mood.
Studies show that mindfulness meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety by improving your focus, increasing your awareness, and changing the way you respond to daily stresses. Mindfulness meditation is all about being in the moment. You can do this sitting down with your eyes closed, or you can walk and do this while you’re out in public. Focus on breathing deeply, and try to clear your mind of all thoughts. There will be times when your thoughts surface, but just try your best to let them go. Stay focused on your breathing and the present moment. If you like guided meditation, you’ll find plenty of apps that can help you get started. There are also plenty of podcasts and YouTube videos that can help you meditate on your own.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is crucial for maintaining an optimal level of health, but many people don’t get enough of it. About 50% of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. This can lead to an increase of the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for regulating your blood sugar and metabolism. While you may think that a quick nap can solve your problems, getting enough sleep is crucial for your well-being. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night can lead to health problems, such as weight gain, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, it can affect your brain in a way that makes you more prone to stress. As with all things, moderation is key. Sleeping too much can be just as bad as not sleeping enough. Ideally, you should wake up naturally, without an alarm. If you must use an alarm, set it for the earliest time you can get away with and try to get an extra hour or two of sleep every day.
Talk to a friend and/or family member
Studies have shown that social connection promotes resilience, improves your health, and eases feelings of stress. In fact, researchers have discovered that social support is one of the most important factors in promoting overall health and longevity. When you’re feeling stressed, try talking to a friend or family member. And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, consider joining a support group or joining a messaging app like Hey or Talkspace to chat with a therapist online. Talking to a friend, family member, or another person in a similar situation can help you cope with your problems. You might even be able to provide advice or support to someone facing similar problems.
Write a ‘to-do’ list and check off your tasks one by one
Studies show that writing down your goals and ‘to-do’ list can reduce stress by up to 21%. Writing down your goals and daily to-do list can help you improve your productivity, reduce stress, and increase your self-confidence. It can also help you sleep better, improve your memory, and reduce your risk of heart disease. There are many ways you can go about creating your goals and to-do list. You can write them in a journal, on a piece of paper, or even online using a productivity app like Toggl. Whatever you choose, make sure that your goals and to-do list are specific and realistic.
As its name implies, mindfulness is an exercise in being present and focusing solely on the present moment. It involves observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them. Mindfulness can be done while sitting or while doing another type of daily activity. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including meditating, taking a walk, or doing yoga. You can also practice mindfulness while doing daily activities like brushing your teeth, washing dishes, walking to work, or listening to music. Just focus on what you’re doing in the present moment. Forget about the past and don’t worry about the future. Be in the moment and breathe deeply. You can actually practice mindfulness while you’re in the midst of a stressful situation. Try to focus on your breathing and tune out all distractions. You can also look for ways to practice mindfulness throughout your day, like watching the clouds in the sky or observing the birds flying around.