Whether it’s work-related, personal, financial, or health-related, we all go through stressful times. Research has shown that even low stress levels over long periods of time can be harmful to your health.
While there is no quick solution or magic recipe for living a stress-free life, these techniques could help to reduce your stress levels:
When your body is relaxed, your mind will feel more relaxed as well. Get comfortable on your bed or in a chair, and focus on relaxing each area of your body. Start with your neck, then your shoulders, upper body, and stomach, and continue with each muscle group until you have reached your toes. Don’t forget about your fingers and facial muscles.
Deep, slow breathing
Deep, slow breathing slows down your heart rate and relaxes your muscles. Get comfortable on your bed or in a chair, and put your hand on your stomach or chest. Breathe in through your nose, as slowly and as deeply as you can. Hold it for a few seconds. Slowly breathe out through your nose. Try to listen to your breath, and imagine it going in and out through your nose. Repeat this for about five minutes.
When you receive a hug, your body’s central nervous system releases a hormone called oxytocin. This is also known as the ‘happy’ hormone, because it (quite literally) makes you feel happy. In addition, receiving a hug lowers your body’s stress hormones (called cortisol). Research has shown that a hug lasting two minutes can greatly decrease stress levels.
Creativity has wonderful effects on your stress levels, especially if you enjoy what you are doing. You become so absorbed in what you are doing that your mind gets a much-needed break from the stress. In addition, there is great value in creating something from nothing and seeing the results. The thought processes you go through while doing something creative will open up your mind to many positive influences.
Taking a walk
Our bodies were made for exercise. Exercise is a very effective way of reducing stress levels. While exercising, your body releases endorphins. These hormones help to break down cortisol in your body, which will in turn lower your stress levels. Exercise also ‘wakes up’ your entire body. You will find that you can digest food easier, will have less joint pain, will sleep deeper and will wake up easier if you exercise regularly.
Writing it out
There is great therapeutic value to be found in writing. You don’t need to keep a journal; you can throw away or burn that which you have written. Writing down your feelings will force you to calm down and think about what you are feeling. This forces your brain to focus, think, and process the situation. It might be painful at first, but after some time you will find that you can handle the situation without becoming stressed, or that you simply do not feel as worried anymore.
Talking to someone
No, not necessarily a therapist. Talk to a friend or family member about what you are going through or how you are feeling. There is no shame in admitting that you are stressed. On the contrary – saying it out loud often makes it feel more manageable. Your loved one might even have some valuable advice on how to handle the situation. Even if they don’t, it might help to simply know that someone cares about you enough to sit and listen.
Also read: 7 Unusual Ways to Relieve Stress
How do you handle stress? Let us know in the comment box below!