Is stress a bad thing? Yes and no. When it consumes us, it can degrade our bodies and minds and take the joy out of life. However, some stress is a good thing as it keeps us alive, keeps our minds and bodies active. So, what's important is to keep our stress levels low enough to motivate us to keep living to our fullest potential and when they creep up to an undesirable level, check out these 25 ways to relieve your stress levels. Numbers 3, 5, 16, 18 and 20 are my typical go-to's.
1. Exercise and Movement
Go for a walk, use a punching bag, play a sport, go to the gym, dance, do some stretching or yoga; basically get your blood pumping, increase your oxygen levels and get your heart rate up.
2. Chew Gum
Look for gum made with xylitol instead of sugar for dental health.
3. Meditation / Quiet Time
Turn off the TV, radio, smart phone; get away from all distractions. Preferably be out in nature (if it is quiet) so you can really listen to your mind and reflect and work out what is causing you stress.
Sometimes a good cry is a great physical relieve of stress.
5. Write in a Journal
List all your stressors and determine which you have control over and which you do not. Make plans for those you do and work on forgetting the rest. By itemizing and organizing, you may see you don’t have that much to stress over and you’ll have a plan to tackle each stressor.
As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
7. Reflect on your Purpose / Contribution
Come up with big problems and the little stuff won't phase you as much. (More on this topic here.)
8. Listen to Music
Preferably upbeat, happy music that brings you back fun memories.
Watch a baseball game live, go fishing, hang out with (positive) friends, go to a theme park…
10. Talk to a Friend
Nothing beats talking things over, even if the other person doesn’t speak, it’ll help to get things off your chest.
11. Be Creative
Bake, draw, build something, color - have you noticed all the adult coloring books available now? My first one was for my physiology and anatomy course. It was a fun way to color with my son while getting my homework done and relaxing.
12. Be Present
Keep your mind centered on the present rather than worrying about the future or fretting about the past.
13. Simplify your Life
Declutter your physical life and your calendar. Learn to say no. This can mean to going to events, volunteer efforts, business “opportunities,” etc.. unless they bring you joy and/or are helping you reach your higher purpose. If you haven't heard of Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing", I highly recommend it for decluttering your physical space. Also, check out how my sister faired following the book in her blog post.
14. Take a Bath
Water temperature should be between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for relaxation. Too cold will be too stimulating and too hot will be too draining. You can also add epsom salts, baking soda, essential oils or herbal blends for detoxification and/or extra relaxation.
Lavender, tea tree oil or citrus are great relaxing scents.
16. Express Forgiveness
A lot of stress can be caused by our feelings towards others for any wrong doing they have seemingly caused. By expressing forgiveness, we release ourselves of those feelings, freeing ourselves from holding grudges that only hurt us. I was introduced to this technique by Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley and he goes into more detail here.
17. Eat a Piece of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate can regulate cortisol, the stress hormone.
18. Make a Plan
What are the have to do’s (eat, sleep, work, play) versus the like to do’s (watch TV, check social media, other time sucks) and schedule each accordingly.
19. Get a Massage
Touch can be very healing. Ask your partner to give you a massage, or you can even massage your own hands and feet.
20. Deep Breathing
If you can’t get to a place to exercise or don’t have the time at the moment, just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
21. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Start at your toes and tense and relax your body parts, moving up to your head.
22. Drink a Cup of Tea
Green or black tea are great choices.
23. Creative Visualization
Imagine yourself doing something you love like laughing with friends, walking on the beach, curled up with a great book somewhere, etc… Your mind will instantly begin to relax.
24. Take a Nap
This is especially important if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. (7-8 hours is typical for an adult.)
25. Think About a Previous Success
Remind yourself that you’ve been successful in stressful situations before and you can tackle what is in front of you now.
I hope that wasn’t overwhelming, but I was having too much fun coming up with this list (#11 at work.)
Are there others techniques that you use? Which of these are you going to try next? I’d love to hear in the comments. Be sure to sign up for my emails to get all the latest news and never miss a blog.
With love, hugs and smiles,