Deep breathing is one of the simplest, yet most effective things we can do to help calm our bodies. Deep breathing helps by oxygenating your blood, as well as helps stops the flow of stress hormones from escalating. For a quick exercise, take five minutes, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest.
What we eat and drink is greatly influential on our emotional state. Foods most associated with exacerbating stress are ones containing caffeine and sugar. Caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability, while sugar may make anxiety worse or cause feelings that trigger anxiety attacks. Healthy foods like whole grains and protein can improve your mood and provide energy. Foods that have been found to be especially effective for stress-busting include blueberries, salmon, and almonds.
Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Exercise is a powerful stress reliever because it helps release endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. In addition, exercise has been found to increase self-confidence and energy levels, as well help improve sleep, which is often disrupted by stress.
Sleep is one of the most important natural stress relievers. Getting enough sleep helps fuel the mind, as well as the body. While stress can certainly lead to a lack of sleep, it is also true that a lack of sleep is a cause of stress. Make it a point to get the doctor recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Help promote better sleep by establishing bedtime rituals that signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. In addition, try turning off the TV and getting off the computer earlier.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Stress
• Learn how to say “no” – Constantly saying yes, comes with a price, whether it be less time, increased stress, or resentment.
• Avoid people who stress you out – “Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you!” Limit or eradicate contact with those who bring stress.
• Prioritize – Look at your schedule, responsibilities, and tasks. If you are feeling overwhelmed, decide which things are urgent and which ones can wait. Put tasks that are not important at the bottom of your “to do” list and eliminate those that are not necessary.
Finding ways to incorporate more laughter into your day can be a fun and effective stress reliever. Laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline, your body’s stress hormones, while increasing brain chemicals called endorphins that boost your mood. Try including more laughter into your life by listening to stand-up comedy, watching your favorite funny movies, or by chatting with someone who makes you laugh.
7. Limit cell phone and internet use
Adults in the US spend more than 5 hours each day on the internet. With so much time spent on our phones and on checking e-mails, it is often hard to disengage from stressors in our life. Try carving some time out each evening where you put your phone away and get off the computer. Limiting your internet use is also a good way to cut down on mindless procrastination, freeing your time for better things.
Listening to music is an easy stress reliever that has a positive effect on the mind, as well as the body. Music has a calming effect because it distracts our mind, but it also produces a calming effect by lowering blood pressure and reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. When you’re feeling stressed, try taking a break and listening to your favorite music, or listen to music while doing work or other tasks.
9. Being Mindful
Meditation is a simple stress reliever- all you need is your mind and it can be practiced wherever you are. The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on the things that are happening right now in the present moment. The idea is to note what you are experiencing, without trying to change it. Not only is mediation associated with physical and emotional well-being, it is also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.