Tips for reducing stress can range from the simplest of activities to a complete overhaul of habits and lifestyle. Although it may take time and effort to incorporate some of the following tips into your usual routine, you can practice others as you read about them!
What’s the first thing people say to an anxious person? Aside from “Calm down,” they usually say, “Take a deep breath.” There’s great wisdom behind this bit of advice, because deep breathing lowers your heart rate, relaxes your muscles and stops the mental chatterbox of worries. Inhale slowly through your nose until your stomach distends, and then release the air slowly from your mouth. If your chest expands as you’re breathing, it’s not quite deep enough!
Exercise and nutritious foods are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle and both contribute to stress reduction. Physical activity releases muscle tension while increasing your brain’s production of “feel good” chemicals, so get moving when stress gets you down! And those nutritious foods can help you feel even better, as many of them aid your body’s production of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Alcohol, tobacco and all other mind-altering substances may provide a sense of relaxation, but they increase stress on the mind and body. Try to reduce your intake or kick the habits altogether. This is often difficult to do, but remember that each small success is a huge leap on the road to well-being.
Our relationships with others can be a significant source of stress, as can our means of handling them. So:
Avoid toxic people
Know that it’s perfectly OK to say “no” to the requests of others
Establish boundaries with friends, family and co-workers
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people
Study and practice effective communication
Seek counseling for extra help with negative dynamics within relationships
Prioritize your tasks and create a schedule—but stick to it! Pencil in exercise or relaxation time if there are too few hours in the day, and reward yourself for timely completion of tasks.
Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and lessen its symptoms. Exercise and deep breathing are excellent
, but there are many more to choose from!
Prayer or meditation: Use deep breathing in addition to this for a calming moment that reduces stress and improves concentration.
Guided Imagery: Use guided imagery CDs or the help of a therapist to guide your own mind to a personal happy place, which you can then access in times of stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Placing intentional tension and relaxation on individual muscles helps you increase your ability to control muscle tension.
Biofeedback: A biofeedback machine monitors physiological data, such as temperature and heart rate. By using a biofeedback machine with relaxation techniques, you can learn to control your body’s response to stress.
Use of these tips for reducing stress can improve your health, relationships and mental well-being. Some may be more difficult than others, but each stands alone as an effective step toward stress reduction.