Stress is a part of living - everyone experiences it. Unfortunately, most of us know the feeling of stress all too well. Whether it’s a deadline at work, sitting in traffic when you’re late for an appointment, or family members driving you crazy…you know the signs: a tightness in your neck and shoulders, a headache that won’t go away, a case of insomnia, stomach and digestion problems...to name a few. The long-term effect stress has on your well-being will cause problems not just for your health. It affects you mentally and emotionally as well. Finding ways to de-stress is critical, and that’s why we’ve rounded up 20 unique ways to blow off steam and help you relax.
Physically, stress can cause high blood pressure, headaches, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, sleep problems, muscle tension and stomach problems. Mentally, stress can cause changes in your eating habits (too much or too little), anger, withdrawal and too often, people turn to tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Emotionally, people who are under stress may experience outbursts of anger, anxiety, depression, overwhelm and lack of motivation. For these reasons, stress is one of your body’s worst enemies.
The big picture is to first start by focusing on those things about your life that you can control. Make any changes you can to keep yourself healthy. Don’t overdo nicotine or caffeine - this worsens the stress response. Here’s a list to help you get started, but for them to work you have to commit some time to them:
20 Ways to De-stress:
- Practice breathing exercises: focus on your breathing and the sensation of inhaling and exhaling. You can set your watch to chime each hour and do one minute of breathing exercises.
- Meditate: pause for a few moments to observe your environment without reacting.
- Try relaxation exercises: practice tensing up and releasing, this will help to relax your body and mind.
- Get some exercise: working out is a great way to blow off steam and any bad vibes that have been building.
- Express your feelings: this could be through writing, drawing, painting, singing, really anything that helps get your feelings out into the open.
- Change your scenery: stress can be due to your environment. If you feel stressed, try going to a coffee shop or cafe and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Even moving to a different side of a room or office can help in some situations.
- Visualize: does sitting on a beach breathing in the ocean air relax you? Imagine for a few minutes that you are at your happy place.
- Step away from your computer screen: your screen can cause you a lot of stress, taking the weekend off or even a few mins a day can help. Try shutting your phone off an hour before bed every night.
- Listen to music: music can soothe every day anxiety, stress, and frustration. Put on your favorite songs and jam out!
- Try yoga: this is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, go to a class or download an app on your phone. Inhale relief, exhale stress!
- Watch a funny video: one of the best ways to de-stress is to just laugh. It stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles while increasing endorphins in the brain.
- Get a plant: research has shown that being around plants can increase relaxation. They can reduce stress and anxiety. You have to focus on the plant, examine it, and mindfully care for it daily.
- Eat well: our health and moods go hand and hand. Eating healthy improves productivity and increases energy.
- Good quality sleep: good sleep is key to your stress levels and helps to keep you strong and healthy both physically and mentally. Avoid excess caffeine, alcohol, or late heavy meals; turn the devices off before bed,and maximize exercise; keep a worry journal if you are anxious.
- Organize: clutter building up in your home? Get rid of things you no longer need. Like Marie Kondo says, does it bring you joy? If not, get rid of it!
- Crafting: take up knitting or cross stitching, this will keep your mind off of stress. The repetitive activity calms the mind.
- Hot beverages: green tea is a great way to soothe any stress and boost relaxation. Minimize caffeine and alcohol since this worsens the stress response.
- Take a hot bath: the heat will relax your muscles and soothe your mind. Get a bath pillow, bubbles, bath bomb, light some candles and de-stress!
- Get a massage: this is another way to relieve your muscle tension and relax. Tell the therapist you want to do some breathing exercises as they work - it will help you break the stress loop.
- Aromatherapy oils: oils like lavender and chamomile can be very beneficial when it comes to de-stressing. It is best to combine with meditation, breathing, muscle relaxation, visualization, hot bath, or yoga. Focus on the aromas!
Try out some of these tips and see which ones work best for you. Taking a few moments several times a day to relax will pay off as your mental and physical health improves. You’ll learn which methods work for you and can reap the benefits of reducing your stress levels each day. Check out our blog, Your Mind Leads Your Body for more positive tips to relieve stress.